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21 February 2017

The new S-52 ECDIS Standards: What do they mean for you?

​​​​On an ADMIRALTY paper chart our highly skilled cartographers have presented accurate and reliable information to the mariner for over two hundred years.  However, the responsibility for the portrayal of an ENC on an ECDIS screen is controlled by the ECDIS standard ‘S-52’. This is authored by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).

ECDIS manufacturers refer to these IHO ECDIS Standards when developing their software, specifically the latest Presentation Library (4.0) within S-52.  This contains instructions for the ‘drawing engine’ within the ECDIS on how to display symbols, colours and line styles on the screen. ​


What are the changes within Presentation Library 4.0?

​As well as ensuring greater consistency in the display of ENC data across all ECDIS, the new standards deliver other benefits for the mariner. 

Firstly, the latest Presentation Library addresses the number one complaint levelled​ at ECDIS; constant audible alarms.  By providing clear guidance to ECDIS manufacturers on ENC objects that will raise an alarm, the IHO has tackled the issue of alarm fatigue on the bridge. 

Also, information such as fairway and anchorage area names now appear on screen, with landmarks, lights and buoys viewable via a ‘hover-over’ function.  Both initiatives reduce the time-consuming need to find information buried in a pick report.​


This before and after photo demonstrates the inclusion of fairway and anchorage names within in the latest presentation library. This change reduces the need to find important information in a pick report ​​


When are the new standards due to enter into force​?​

Owners are expected to switch to the new Presentation Library​ by the 31 August 2017. However, the upgrade requirements will vary from ship to ship, so we continue to encourage every owner to speak to their ECDIS manufacturer now in order to ensure a smooth switchover and to take advantage of the new ECDIS Standards at the earliest opportunity, rather than waiting until the new deadline of 31 August 2017.

How can I find out more?​

Our range of​ ECDIS and ENC reference publications have been updated to reflect the latest changes to the presentation library and are available as part of the ADMIRALTY e-Nautical Publications range​


Our free seminars on ‘Implementing ECDIS’ and ‘Living with ECDIS’, are also designed to ensure the navigational benefits of ECDIS are achieved in an efficient and compliant manner. Both will give you an opportunity to ask UKHO and independent experts, questions about ECDIS implementation and management, including the latest changes brought through by the IHO. They are all free to attend and places can be booked online. ​

Find out more about the UKHO's 'Living with ECDIS Seminars'

› Find out more about our ECDIS and ENC reference publications