C-Map's RTU and the Ending of the Paper Trail

The introduction of the electronic chart is a major step forward in improving the safety of navigation at sea, as it save mariners time and effort and improves safety, and offers optimized functionality. ENCs (Electronic Navigational Charts), issued by Hydrographic Offices, are now recognized as charts as defined by SOLAS, provided they are displayed on a type approved ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display Information System) and are kept updated.

It is the responsibility of National Hydrographic Offices to produce ENCs.

Production of ENCs has proved more difficult than anticipated and to date nominally 15 percent coverage exists. The g a p s c a n be filled in with c o m m e r c i a l vector electronic charts which although functionally similar to ENCs are not recognized by the IMO as equivalent to paper charts. Nevertheless they permit seamless electronic chart navigation, albeit in conjunction with the paper chart where ENC coverage is not available. C-MAP supplies production and quality tools to Hydrographic Offices for the production of ENCs. It also carries out subcontract work on behalf of a number of Hydrographic Offices. It is anticipated that both of these activities will accelerate the production and availability of ENCs.

The original concept put forward by the International Hydrographic Office for a series of Regional Electronic Chart Centers to distribute ENCs has proved difficult to implement. C-MAP has implemented a strategy based upon working with HOs and entered into dis- tribution and licensing agreements with them. Having adopted this strategy CMAP is able to offer a worldwide database of electronic charts together with a distribution, licensing and updating infrastructure. ENCs and commercial electronic charts may be updated by means of CDs or floppy discs, but delivery of these is subject to similar delays to those that apply to paper NMs and they can arrive in batches and several weeks could have elapsed from the time when the update was originally issued to it being available for the ships officer to bring his charts up to date.

The obvious solution is to correct electronic charts automatically via satellite communication, telephone or landline.

but the cost factor has prohibited many ship owners and managers from adopting this methodology. C-MAP's solution is Real Time Updating Service (RTU), as files are compressed to 17 percent of their original size and competitive satellite rates are available through service providers.

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Maritime Reporter Magazine, page 47,  May 2004

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First published in 1881 Maritime Reporter is the world's largest audited circulation publication serving the global maritime industry.