U.S. ENC Availability Starts to Gain Speed

Wednesday, August 08, 2001
It is no secret that acceptance and incorporation of electronic charting systems has been more widespread in Europe than in the U.S., as European governments and commercial organizations collectively have worked more diligently together and built and maintained a lead in this area. The gap, however, is closing, as the era of the electronic chart is quickly arriving in the U.S.

In a recent Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM), the U.S. Coast Guard announced that it is considering the feasibility of allowing commercial vessels to use electronic charting and navigation systems as their primary means of navigation in U.S. waters. It would have to meet ECDIS standards as supplied by the IMO. In the ANPRM, the Coast Guard proposes that vessels equipped with electronic charting equipment meeting the IMO standards be exempt from mandatory compliance with the requirements for paper charts and navigational publications in 33 CFR part 164. Comments on the ANPRM were accepted up to July 2.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, announced that beginning July 15, the agency will distribute digital Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) of U.S. waters on the Internet.

Initially, the charts will be prototypes of the nation's 40 major ports that will not be supported by regular updates, but as resources become available, the site's coverage will be expanded. NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS), which is spearheading the project, does not intend to limit access to the ENC, but is planning specific procedures to satisfy chart carriage requirements mandated by SOLAS and the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations. Users can access the charts at www.chartmaker.nos.noaa.gov. Also, the New Orleans District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the release of new electronic navigation charts (ENC) on the Atchafalaya River. The Atchafalaya river ENC comes in three parts, and the set is available for free at www.mvn.usace.army.mil/eng/s-57/atchafalaya.asp "The Corps' goal is to make river ENCs as readily available to our customers as GPS receivers are today," said Mark Nettles, a New Orleans District cartographer.

"To that end, the New Orleans District's Website will provide free and easy access to current and future river ENCs."

PMI To Train CMS TugboatOperators On ECDIS Gregg Trunnell, Director of Pacific Northwest Maritime Institute (PMI), announced that Crowley Marine Services (CMS) has appointed PMI to train its Seattle based crews in the operational use of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS). The 16-hour instructional course will be given over a two day period and will train CMS deck officers in the basic functions of Transas Marine's NaviSailor 2500®. CMS will continue to install Electronic Chart Systems on their vessels over the next five years. In December 2000, the USCG granted approval to PMI for a 35-hour ECDIS Course, the first such approval in the country.

U.S. Coast Guard Is Going Paperless

Marine Electronics Solutions, Inc. (MES), the supplier of all the navigation and external communications equipment for 50 US Coast Guard Protector Class cutters being built at Bollinger Shipyards, has confirmed: "The U.S. Coast Guard issued an all Coast Guard message that sanctions the use of the Marine Electronics Solutions, Inc./Transas NaviSailor 2400 ECDIS for paper-less navigation." MES' ECDIS solution includes more than 7,000 Transas full content vector charts in the master as well as backup ECDIS stations. The master station is located in the bridge console while the backup station is located on the, now "obsolete," chart table. In addition to using the system for paperless navigation, the crews also utilize the playback feature with primary and secondary tracks, radar overlay and acquired targets. Marine Electronics Solutions, Inc. trains each crew in the usage of the Transas NaviSailor 2400 ECDIS two weeks prior to the delivery of each vessel to the USCG.

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