NOAA increases frequency of nautical chart updates

NOAA increases frequency of nautical chart updates

NOAA has announced that it will increase the frequency of nautical chart updates, with electronic navigational chart (ENC) updates becoming available for download Monday through Friday. These ENCs are vector datasets designed to support a wide range of marine navigation needs. Initially intended for large commercial vessels, ENCs are now utilized in computer navigation programmes and mobile applications across different types of ships, including recreational vessels. They offer real-time ship positioning, as well as assistance in collision and grounding avoidance.

Historically, updates for NOAA ENCs have been published weekly, but now they will be pushed daily, from Monday through Friday. These updates include weekly Notice to Mariners corrections, additional critical changes and routine addition of newly compiled data, such as hydrographic or shoreline surveys. Critical updates involve changes that may pose navigation hazards and should be known to mariners as soon as possible. These could include newly discovered rocks, wrecks, shoals or changes in the positions or characteristics of navigation aids (buoys, beacons, lights). NOAA applies critical corrections to its NOAA ENC products, releasing them as ENC revision files.

Non-critical data is categorized as ‘routine’, including the results of ordinary hydrographic and shoreline surveys. However, routine source data is only applied to NOAA ENCs, not to paper and raster nautical charts. Any specific hazards identified during routine surveys or the application of other routine data are extracted and classified as critical corrections to be applied to all products.

The chart updates viewer displays the areas that have changed on each ENC since its last new edition was published and can be found here.

Electronic navigational chart displaying the waters near the Virginia Peninsula on the American East Coast. (Image courtesy: NOAA)
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