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Digital Navigation

Digital navigation is changing the maritime industry with quickening pace. Larger vessels will be required to use digital navigation starting as early as July 2012 for certain vessels, and by July 2018 at the latest. ANS staff are trained and experienced in supplying carriage compliant digital navigation software and data, most notably via the Admiralty Vector Chart Service. ANS can also supply digital charting products from Nobeltec, a popular choice among recreational and non-SOLAS class mariners.

ECDIS Mandation

The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires that all vessels on any voyage have the charts and publications necessary to navigate along the voyage, and keep them up-to-date. Paper charts have been in use since long before SOLAS began requiring them. A recent amendment to SOLAS now requires certain vessels to use an Electronic Chart Display Information System (ECDIS) as the primary means of navigation. Specifically, Cargo Ships with a gross tonnage over 10,000, Tankers over 3,000 tons, and Passenger Ships (including yachts) over 500 tons are subject to the requirement for ECDIS. Depending on the type, size, and age of the vessels, the requirement takes effect as early as July 2012, and no later than July 2018. Below is an illustration of the timetable:


ECDIS mandation will be rolled out on a timetable that starts July 2012

There is a differentiation between ECDIS and other Electronic Chart Systems (ECS): in order to be considered a true ECDIS, a system must have been tested, approved and certified as compliant with the IMO ECDIS Performance Standard (IMO Resolution MSC.232(82)). Otherwise, the system is just an ECS, and does not meet the SOLAS requirement.

SOLAS also requires the use of "official charts" to fulfil carriage requirements. Official charts are issued by or on the authority of a Government, authorized Hydrographic Office or other relevant government institutions, and must be kept up to date. All other nautical charts are by definition not official and are often referred to as unofficial or private charts. These charts are not accepted as the basis for navigation under the SOLAS Convention. This definition carries through to electronic charts, which must meet an international standard called S-57.

Simply put, compliance with ECDIS mandation means using official ENCs on an approved ECDIS.

Admiralty Vector Chart Service (AVCS)

The charts used in a typical voyage were created by compiling hydrographic data collected by a number of nations. Sourcing ENCs from each producing nation would be difficult as some don't publish their catalog, and others don't provide a reliable means for obtaining updated data. Additionally, more than one nation may have collected data for a particular area, so any conflicts in the two data sets would have to be resolved.

The Admiralty Vector Chart Service overcomes all these difficulties by bringing together ENCs from national Hydrographic offices around the world, and producing weekly updates as appropriate for the entirety of the AVCS folio. AVCS offers the most comprehensive worldwide coverage and contains only official ENCs that meet the SOLAS carriage requirement.

As part of AVCS, the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has instituted a quality assurance program where its professional cartographers compare the content of each ENC to relevant paper charts. Any navigationally significant discrepancies are then investigated and resolved with the producing nation. No other electronic chart service offers this level of quality assurance.

AVCS is supported by the top 15 ECDIS manufacturers, which translates to acceptance by 90% of the ECDIS installations sailing today. Once the complete dataset is onboard (delivered in a media pack as pictured above), coverage can be provisioned in a matter of minutes, and updates downloaded while underway.

The UKHO have produced a video overviewing AVCS:


For more information about AVCS, including a quote for specific coverage, please contact us.

Admiralty Digital Publications (ADP)

As a complement to digital charting with AVCS, the British Admiralty has produced digital versions of their Tide Tables, List of Lights, and List of Radio Signals (Volume 6). These digital publications are more than just digitized copies of their paper equivalents: each is interactive, graphically-based, and much more powerful than the hardcopy.

Each of the three ADP titles are now accepted in place of the paper version by a large and growing number of flag states, which makes operating a paperless bridge a real possibility.

Admiralty TotalTide (ATT)

The world's most comprehensive tidal prediction program provides fast, accurate tidal height and tidal stream predictions. The software automates the prediction process, reduces the possibility of user error and provides an easy means of viewing both underkeel and safe overhead clearances. It contains tidal information for over 7,000 ports and more than 3,000 tidal stream stations worldwide.

Admiralty Digital List of Lights (ADLL)

The Admiralty Digital List of Lights provides light and fog signal information for more than 70,000 unique light structures worldwide. Users can get weekly updates by email and CD or access the information online as soon as it becomes available.

Admiralty Digital List of Radio Signals, Volume 6 (ADRS-6)

Admiralty Digital Radio Signals Volume 6 provides maritime radio communications information for pilot services, vessel traffic services and port operations worldwide. More than 3000 service locations are updated quickly and efficiently via email or CD every week.