In July 2022, we announced our intention to withdraw from paper chart production. As part of this announcement, we made a firm commitment to consult closely and more widely with those involved in producing, selling and using paper charts and to listen to their feedback, stating from the outset that we would leave no one behind. These more detailed conversations have highlighted several important international considerations.
We must address the needs of users who do not yet have compliant digital alternatives to paper chart products. Therefore, we will continue to assess the market whilst providing paper charts to those who need them.
The rationale for an international approach
In 2018, mandatory ECDIS regulations changed how larger vessels navigate using digital charting. These ECDIS regulations cover vessels sailing internationally for passenger ships of >500 gross tonnes and cargo ships of >3000 gross tonnes.
The move to digital charting for all types and sizes of ships is undeniable. However, vessels not mandated to have an ECDIS fitted on board do not have universal access to regulated, official digital navigation products due to infrastructure, finances and other reasons. Commercial and leisure navigation is global, and the UKHO believes an international approach is the right course.
We are delighted that the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) has established an Electronic Chart System (ECS) Project Team to develop a set of recommendations that existing IHO bodies, external organisations, and Member States will address, identify and prioritise ECS navigation requirements, and analyse their impacts on current IHO hydrographic standards.
Impact on our paper chart service
Our commitment to leave no one behind in the transition to digital navigation has not changed. We will continue to provide an ADMIRALTY paper chart service that supports the needs of mariners who rely on them during the transition period.
Naturally, the ADMIRALTY paper chart service will evolve, not only because other hydrographic offices that supply the paper charts included in our paper chart series are making changes, which may impact our offering and coverage. We will keep our partners and users updated every step of the way.
In managing the service, we must have a deeper understanding of the changing value of paper charts to the mariner. Whilst we recognise the industry’s move towards digital charting, we also understand that this occurs at different rates in different parts of the world. Therefore, we are increasing efforts to expand our knowledge of paper chart usage worldwide and will use this to direct the service to meet the needs identified.
Supporting navigation today and tomorrow
We provide comprehensive official chart coverage of the world’s commercial shipping routes and ports, with an extensive range of planning charts to support passage planning tasks.
ADMIRALTY Digital Catalogue (ADC)
Providing a comprehensive reference of ADMIRALTY Maritime Data Solutions
Transformation across the maritime industry
The innovation happening today is underpinning the maritime decisions of tomorrow. Onshore, users will be able to make more effective decisions using dynamic, real-time data; along the coast, smart ports will allow for more efficient, optimised operations; and at sea, mariners will have access to even richer data so they can navigate with precision and confidence.