Mariners can now get free electronic downloads of NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
) Raster Navigational Charts or RNCs. NOAA will produce official raster charts and deliver weekly updates with Notice to Mariners—notices containing changes in local navigational information. The NOAA Web site will contain a fully updated raster chart for each chart in NOAA's suite. A cumulative file of updates with Notice to Mariner information for each chart edition will be posted on the Web site. NOAA will distribute the free raster charts and updates the same way it distributes NOAA electronic navigational charts online.
The NOAA Coast Survey anticipates establishing a program where commercial value-added providers may download the raster charts for free, compress, encrypt, and/or package them with additional data or services, and then may sell that product. By adhering to a set of NOAA-specified practices, these raster charts will retain their official status and their original high quality and accuracy. No date has been set by which the value-added redistributors program will be in place. NOAA also plans to make the raster charts available on the Web site in an easy-to-view format for non-navigational purposes, such as port security and management, marine boundary delineation, coastal zone management
, and environmental assessment and spill response.