Carriage Requirements for Nautical Charts Publications

Through its Maritime Authority, the Bahamas Flag State released information bulletin No. 51 that outlines the criteria to be followed by SOLAS vessels to carry ECDIS, Nautical Charts and Publications. According to the paper, marine carriers can carry the charts in either electronic or paper formats with restrictions.

The bulletin applies to all vessels registered with the Bahamas Flag State administration and recognized under Regulation 19 of Chapter V of the International Convention of the Safety of Life at Sea, amended in 1974 (SOLAS). It also applies to SOLAS vessels that need to carry nautical charts and publications, as a requirement under Regulation V/27.

Paper nautical charts, electronic navigation charts (commonly known as ENCs), Raster charts (RNC) and paper publications carried under Chapter V of SOLAS 1974 amendment, must comply with and be updated to the latest "Notices of Mariners". Furthermore, these charts must be officially issued and approved by a SOLAS-recognized government agency.

Vessels' navigation crews can access the "Notices to Mariners" documents both electronically and on paper. They are distributed to the necessary Bahamian ships through various means, depending on the format. Electronic Notices to Mariners are directly issued to vessels by an authorized chart agency, regulated and approved by government-backed hydrographic office.

When Can Bahamian SOLAS Vessels Use Digital Charts & Publications as Equivalents to Paper?

According to the Bahamian Maritime Authority (BMA), SOLAS ships can carry digital charts and publications instead of their paper formats. However, they must meet specific requirements:

  1. The charts and publications must be approved officially or issued by a Government hydrographic office.
  2. All the products must sufficiently satisfy the requirements of maritime navigation.
  3. All charts and publications must be updated at all times. Moreover, each vessel must back up the documents to ensure that safety at sea is not compromised.
  4. Local publication of nautical charts and publications approved by a third party agency highlighting geographical regions of the country may pass SOLAS requirements. Still, with one condition: The agency keeps updated charts according to data received from a SOLAS Contracting Government.
  5. The worthiness of the navigation charts and publications mentioned above on vessels should be assessed by the third-party entity. The evaluation must be conducted in adherence to the guidelines on equivalence.

Carriage and Use of Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS)

SOLAS V/19 requires the carriage of ECDIS, conforming that it meets the performance standards for electronic charts. The ECDIS must be installed on all applicable Bahamian ships by the dates indicated in SOLAS V/19.2.10

SOLAS V/ requires the carriage of nautical charts. The Bahamian Flag State Authority approves the use of ECDIS, with needed ENCs, as meeting the carriage requirements for nautical charts as specified in SOLAS V/ as long as a suitable back-up ECDIS, or paper nautical charts are onboard also specified in SOLAS V/

The commercial shipping company has the final word on which form of nautical charts will be used in a vessel as its primary reference during navigation. However, in the Bahamas, the following two arrangements are acceptable to ensure conformance with SOLAS requirements.

Primary System – That includes ECDIS charts in ENC mode or RCDS mode [when the former is unavailable]. Alternatively, an independent ECDIS with separate power and data supply displayed in an ENC or RCDS mode is acceptable. Paper charts can also be used as primary systems, as long as a vessel is ECDIS-fitted and meets SOLAS V/27 requirements.

Back Up System –  Either: a second independent ECDIS which has a separate power supply and data input, operating in electronic navigational chart (ENC) mode or, where ENC Coverage is not available and RCDS Mode is operating, Paper charts (adequate and up to date for the intended voyage). OR Paper charts (adequate and up to date for the intended voyage).


Nautical publications, lists of lights, tide tables and other Nautical publications

Required Publications

Publication Name

Most Recent Edition

*IMO nr/ANS nr

Mandatory By

Applicable Vessels


IBC Code



IBC, paragraph 16.2.1
Chemical Tankers
Constructed on or after July 1, 1986

BCH Code

2008 Edition

BCH, paragraph 5.2.1
Chemical Tankers
Constructed on or after July 1, 1986

IGC Code

1993 Edition

IGC, paragraph 18.1.3
Gas Carrier
Constructed on or after July 1, 1986 

IGC Code

2016 Edition

IGC, paragraph 18.1.2
Gas Carrier
Gas carriers constructed after July 1, 1986 and before July 1, 2016 should have a copy of the 1993 edition with all the supplements in addition to the 2016 edition, unless copies of national regulations incorporating the provisions of the IGC Code are provided on board ship, in which case the IMO publication of the IGC Code need not be carried on board. All new builds constructed after July  1, 2016 will require a copy of the 2016 edition of the IGC Code on board ship. Administrations may also choose to have a copy of the 2016 edition of the IGC Code for reference.

International Code of Signals ¹

2005 Edition

SOLAS Chapter V, Regulation 21.1


IAMSAR Manual Volume III ¹

2019 Edition

Chapter V,
Regulation 21.2


Nautical Charts & Publications ²

Chapter V, Regulation 19.2.1
Chapter V, Regulation 27


See below for details.

Publications Required by International Safety Management (ISM) Code

ISM Code, paragraphs 1.2.3 and 11.3


Ship SMS manuals contain details of additional required publications.

ODS Logbook

Annex VI Reg.12


Logbook for vessels with ODS

(Ozon depleting substances) containing systems or equipment.

 All publications on board vessels, in any of format, should be the most current edition or updated with the latest corrections. Unless stated otherwise, official digital publications are permitted. It is recommended however mariners consult with their respective flag state authority regularly on the use of digitized publications and their acceptance.

*E = Available in electronic format.

¹ Emergency use copies of these publications must always be readily available in physical, paper editions.

² Nautical Charts & Publications

  1. Adequate charts for the intended voyage – up to date
  2. Chart catalog – up to date
  3. Admiralty Sailing Directions / NGA Sailing Directions
  4. Admiralty List of Lights / NGA List of Lights
  5. Notices to Mariners
  6. Admiralty Tide Tables / NOAA Tide Tables
  7. Mariners Handbook
  8. Nautical Almanac
  9. Navigational Tables
  10. Admiralty List Of Radio Signals Volumes I to VI Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS) / NGA Radio Aids
  11. Tidal stream atlases
  12. Ocean Passages for the World
Disclaimer: American Nautical Services, Inc. assumes no responsibility for the accuracy and contents of this article. The information in this article has been provided for informational purposes only. Mariners should consult with their respective flag state authority, company administration, and safety management system (SMS) to ensure compliance with all current chart and publication carriage requirements on the domestic and international level.