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What is the NOAA RNC Tile Service?
The NOAA RNC Tile Service delivers standardized nautical chart tilesets for the public. The Tile Service terminates the need for application developers to regularly undergo the cumbersome procedure of converting NOAA BSB files into tilesets. All tilesets are published on a weekly basis and it also provides geo-referenced charts consistent with the Web Map Tile Specifications (WMTS) and Tile Map Services Specification (TMS).
What are Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC)?
Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) are vector data sets that assist in digital maritime navigation. ENCs are primarily used by SOLAS class vessels on the bridge in an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). ENCs are also now being utilized on simpler electronic chart systems (ECS) on numerous types of vessels. They are a big help to improve real-time ship positioning, collision and grounding avoidance.
ENCs are produced around the world by different national hydrographic or government charting agencies, but they all meet the International Hydrographic Organization ENC Product Specification standards. Over 1,000 ENC datasets of United States coastal waters and the Great Lakes are maintained by NOAA. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructs a similar product called Inland ENC (IENC) >for many U.S. rivers.
Remarkable Milestone in Nautical Charting
The ENC-based tileset version of the Merrimack chart maintains the look of a NOAA paper chart but is obtained from the ENC charting database. This gives users the chance to utilize ENC-only data with a traditional NOAA chart feel. NOAA plans to include all future charts that are produced only as ENCs into the tile service.
“This release represents a major milestone in nautical charting…This is the first chart that was digital from its inception, breaking with the longstanding practice of digital charts based on paper charts.” – Rear Admiral Shepard Smith, Director of Coast Survey
Who is impacted?
For professionally-skilled mariners, it is important to note that there is no paper chart equivalent, and that this chart will not be served by the Notice to Mariners systems provided by the U.S. Coast Guard and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. Updates will be made as necessary by NOAA weekly. All customers with compatible applications will get the updates automatically.
Why are ENC-only charts needed?
Using the ENC-based tileset of the Merrimack River as an example, this up to date, larger-scale ENC was compiled using U.S. Army Corps of Engineers data, NOAA lidar data, and privately funded survey data. The combined data provides mariners with a clearer picture of the overall conditions and risks to navigations. The convenience of this chart in the RNC tile service provides mariners with greater flexibility in viewing the chart.
How will this affect all future charts?
Coast Survey has constructed a handful of “ENC-only” charts from original source materials. For some of these, the compiled data were subsequently used to create up to date raster charts. However, for some extensive products, Coast Survey has determined not to create corresponding raster charts. This saves the additional effort needed to continue the raster equivalents and resources may be put to better use carrying out other parts of Coast Survey’s mission.