The Future of ECDIS

After a gap of five years, the 2nd ECDIS Conference took place in Singapore in October 2003. At first glance everything was as before: the venue of the conference, its organisers, the lecturers and companies involved, and Ð strangely enough Ð even many of the titles of the presentations. But the most important item had changed and this was the mood in which the topic was presented. Five years ago almost everybody agreed that we were about to see a great breakthrough in the ambitious IMO/IHO ECDIS venture. This time, a gloomy mood of resignation and frustration seems to have... (read more)
2008-01-01 01:00:00

Call to Clear Licensing Confusion

Transas Marine has called for chart distributors to unify their message to consumers ahead of the Nor-Shipping 2009 exhibition in Norway. The company, whose own data service; Transas Admiralty Data Service (TADS) has been developed in partnership with the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, believes that the industry must now take the opportunity to remove any confusion surrounding the licensing of official and unofficial data. Peter Mantel, Deputy Managing Director for Transas commented that customers are quite unsure about how the licensing of chart data works. Customers believe that licensing periods for official data are far more flexible than they actually... (read more)
2009-06-04 10:09:58

The State of Nautical Charts Across the Globe

An examination of IHO Yearbooks shows that the numbers of surveying vessels operated by IHO Member States has declined steadily by 35% since 1979. It seems unlikely that this reduction has been compensated for by more efficient technology, such as Lidar, multi-beam sensors or through governments opting for commercial survey contracts. IHO Publication C-55 Status of Hydrographic Surveying and Nautical Charting Worldwide shows that progress in the amount of sea area surveyed in most States is slow or nonexistent. The conclusion must be that while the way that chart data can be presented is becoming ever more sophisticated, for example,... (read more)
2012-03-08 04:58:38

Streams of Data

The acronym ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) has been in use for a good 15 years. The chart display part is getting more and more content (i.e. ENC coverage) and can be considered operational, but what I consider to be the information part (i.e. some form of integrated pilot, tidal atlases, list of lights and radio signals, etc.) is lacking. While sailing in the Caribbean (oh, poor me!), I had to consult various hydrographic publications to plan cruises, including guides for yachtsmen. I have to admit, it is not too bad to go through the books to find... (read more)
2008-03-01 12:00:00


The tide obeys neither Prince nor Crown, twice a day it goes up and down”. This is a translation of an old, Dutch proverb, and no doubt most sea-bordering languages will have a similar one. Viking warrior Canute (Knud) the Great, who became king of England, Norway, Denmark and Sweden, was also aware of the unstoppable rhythm of the tides. To teach his obsequious courtiers that even he had his limitations, he had his throne carried to the seashore, sat upon it whilst the tide came in and commanded the waves to advance no further, declaiming, “let all men know... (read more)
2007-09-04 12:00:00

My first experience in the navy with data collecting for oceanography was taking part in a MILOC-survey (military oceanography), near the Azores in the 1960s. It took us 24 hours to take water samples with Nansen-casts to the bottom, and a lot of laboratory work and hand-mechanical computation to analyse the water samples for salinity and to compute the associated depths. Everything was written down in logbooks. Nowadays, equipment is capable of a lot more and is much more efficient: in situ measurements of temperature, chlorophyll, nitrite, optical plankton counters, etc. etc., while results are often given by auto-analysers. Back... (read more)
2008-01-01 01:00:00

What About the Other 88%?

Despite the last decade’s flurry of UNCLOS ECS mapping, the amount of the oceans surveyed remains around 12%. The continuing search for the MH370 wreckage emphasises our scant knowledge of the actual deep ocean seafloor despite the apparently detailed overall picture derived from satellite altimetry’s synthetic bathymetry.  Dr. John K. Hall (retd), Geological Survey of Israel, Israel Just eight years ago, from this ‘bully pulpit’, I wrote about GOMaP, a 1999 proposal to devote USD8-16 billion over 20-30 years to swath map all the oceans deeper than 500m. I concluded ‘Unfortunately GOMaP lacked the sex appeal of placing humans on... (read more)
2016-02-01 04:30:07

Award for EGNOS GNSS Augmentation System

The multi-agency team behind the ESA-designed EGNOS augmentation system – making it possible for European aircraft to safely rely on satnav signals – has received a prestigious award from France’s national aerospace academy. Didier Flament, head of ESA’s EGNOS and SBAS Division, joined Mariluz de Mateo of Spain’s ENAIRE air traffic management agency, working on Europe’s Single European Sky Traffic Management Research (SESAR), and Jean-Marc Pieplu, who oversees EGNOS exploitation at the European Global Navigation Satellite System Agency (GSA), in receiving Vermeil Medals from France’s Académie de l’Air et de l’Espace in Toulouse. The medals were awarded to the trio... (read more)
2016-12-02 11:55:25

The theme of this issue is ‘Legal Aspects’ and contains many different views and insights into this interesting topic, from boundary determination to liability on products. The knowledge of source material (e.g. depths and low water lines) and their charting capabilities, make HOs the logical choice in the process of charting and administering the various boundaries of a nation (e.g. UNCLOS boundaries, fishing limits and areas, military zones etc.). However, the cartographer/HO can find at least two reasons to be reluctant to show boundaries on nautical charts: Charting is seen as the ‘art of omitting’ data which is unnecessary for... (read more)
2008-01-01 01:00:00

Autonomous Drifting Echo Sounding Buoys Redux

A GEBCO meeting in Copenhagen twelve years ago began the push to develop an autonomous drifting echo sounding buoy (SSPARR or Seafloor Sounding in Polar and Remote Regions). It coincided, not incidentally, with Clinton’s removal of Selective Availability (SA) from GPS navigation, and the availability of worldwide Iridium satellite communications. My doctoral studies were in the Arctic, making geophysical measurements from Fletcher’s Ice Island (T-3), a drifting ice station operated by the US Air Force and Navy from 1952 to 1984, and occupied for a record 7,240 days. Despite residing in the Mideast since 1970, my experience of ‘thinking outside... (read more)
2012-04-20 12:04:12
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