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Electronic Chart Display

and Information

1. Become familiar with the principal types of

electronic charts.

2. Understand the difference between an ECDIS

and an ECS.

3. Understand the different Electronic Chart

formats and their advantages and
4. Become familiar with the display characteristics of
an ECDIS System.

5. Understand the limits of an ECDIS based on the

performance limits of sensors.

6. Understand the US Navy policy and plan on ECDIS


7. Understand the risk of over reliance on an ECDIS

Electronic databases, operating systems,
computer technology and the widespread
deployment of Digital technology has made it
possible to employ electronic charts at sea.
In addition, the advent of continuous and
automated positioning systems (such as GPS),
have made it possible to take maximum
advantage of electronic charting.
The benefits of the integrated system
GPS and chart data in digital format
- Real time position .
- Automated plotting of the navigation.
- Reduce Manning
- Minimizing Human error .
- Alert to navigation dangers.
- Dramatically increase awareness in low
Electronic Charting Systems
Advances in technology have made it possible
to replace the traditional paper charts with
Electronic Charting Systems.

All electronic charting systems fall into two

categories. The two categories are:
• ECDIS (Electronic Charting and Display System)
• ECS (Electronic Charting System).
Electronic Chart Display & Information
System (ECDIS)
“means a navigation information system which, with
adequate back-up arrangements, can be accepted as
complying with the up-to-date chart requirements by
regulation V/20 of the 1974 SOLAS Convention, by
displaying selected information from a system navigational
chart (SENC) with positional information from navigation
sensors to assist the mariner in route planning and route
monitoring, and by displaying additional navigation-
related information if required.”
Sec. 2.1 IMO PS
And that means????
 The short explanation is an ECDIS is a
system that is able to display electronic
chart information with:
- automatic position updates
- built in redundancy
- that will assist the mariner in all aspects of
It is the legal equivalent of a paper chart.
It is Not an ECDIS if…..
 Equipment is not legally approved.
 Does not have adequate electronic chart
 Does not have chart updating capability.
Even though an ECS may perform many of
the same functions as an ECDIS, it is not
the legal equivalent of an ECDIS. It may
only be used for “situational awareness”.
What makes up an ECDIS or ECS?

1. Position inputs (GPS, DGPS, LORAN, Radar,

gyro, fathometer, etc.)
2. Electronic Navigation Charts (ENC)
3. System Electronic Navigation Charts (SENC)
Color Display


Nav Sensors

Gyrocom pass Com puter AIS

W ater level
Depthsounder ENC Currents
Ice info

Electronic Navigational Chart
“means the database, standardized as to content,
structure and format, issued for use with ECDIS
on the authority of government-authorized
hydrographic offices. The ENC contains all the
chart information necessary for safe navigation,
and may contain supplementary information in
addition to that contained in the paper chart (e.g.,
sailing directions) which may be considered
necessary for safe navigation.”
Sec. 2.2, IMO PS
So What?
An ENC is a database, not a chart as
you think of it. As such, there are:
• different types of ENC data
• various formats
• differences in the level of content
System ENC (SENC)
“means the database resulting from the
transformation of the ENC by ECDIS for
appropriate use, updates to the ENC by
appropriate means, and other data added by the
mariner. It is this database that is actually
accessed by ECDIS for the display generation and
other navigational functions, and is the equivalent
of an up-to-date paper chart. The SENC may also
contain information from other sources.”
Sec. 2.3, IMO PS
System Electronic Navigational Chart (SENC)

D a ta S o ftw a re D is p la y


U p d a te s
#1 #1 S E N C1
#2 #2 S E N C2
#3 #3 S E N C3

IH O S -5 7 P e rfo rm e d in E C D IS IH O S -5 2 C o lo rs & S y m b o ls
Not all charts are equal….

• Many different formats exist for electronic charts.

• The two major types are vector based and raster
• Raster charts are scanned paper charts.
• Most vector charts are digitized paper charts, thereby
inheriting any errors (and possibly introducing some!)
• Countries are producing unique digital charts based on
their interpretation of IHO standards.


The Types of EC Formats are:
Raster and Vector
Digital Chart Formats

IHO S-57
Digital Nautical Raster Nautical
Navigational Chart
Chart (DNC®) Chart (RNC)
The Basic Difference
• Raster charts are simply bitmap images
created by scanning a paper chart

• Vector charts portray charted features as

points, lines, or areas with amplifying
information (attributes) found in an
associated database
Raster Charts
• A set of colored pixels
representing chart information as
a picture on computer screen

• Simply an array of pixels

arranged in rows and columns

• Pixels are color coded, but do not

represent features explicitly
The Appeal of Raster

• Looks like a paper chart

(appeals to traditionalists)

• Cheap and easy to produce

(scan existing paper chart)

• Runs easily on PC

• World-wide availability
Vector Charts: More detail
• A set of accurately
positioned lines (vectors),
points and areas, with
associated attributes (e.g.
“shoreline”, “buoy - red”)
organized in a database
accessed by clicking on
displayed symbol
Paradigm Shift
• Looks “different” from a
paper chart
• Underlying database allows
queries and layer selection
• Zooming reveals detail
• Complex, expensive, and
time-consuming to produce
• Needs more powerful
computer and expensive
display to meet IHO/DoD
USN Approach is to use NIMA’s Digital
Nautical Chart (DNC), a vector based format.
DNC with Base data only
showing (Less clutter)

Standard Display with Depth Contours

The user defines what features
are necessary!!!

Standard Display with Spot Soundings

DNC with User defined Color

All Features
Which is better?
• Depends on your point of view….
• Raster is easier and cheaper to produce, but
vector provides much more information to
the navigator
• DoD standard is Vector Product Format
• NOAA BSB charts cover US waters
The Advantages of Vector Charts
• Information on Chart can be linked to
specific points. (Click on light and you can
retrieve more info, like a picture of the
• Allows the user to display the information
that is necessary for the ship’s current
Raster Concerns
• High scan resolution required for detailed
chart….lot’s of CPU memory required and
slower refresh rates.
• Zooming degrades quality.
• Mixed pixels—is it water or land?
Raster Model



Vector Shoreline
US Navy Policy
• The Chief of naval Operation ( CNO) issued a directive in
march 1998 establishing minimum ECDIS standards (ECDIS-
N) and calling for a transition of the entire Navy fleet from
paper based charts to electronic digital Chart by FY 2007. This
has recently changed to 2004, with the first ECDIS-N certified
battlegroup deploying in FY01.
• Until then, ships may use an ECS for enhanced situational
awareness, but the paper chart must be maintained as well.
USN ECDIS-N Requirements

•Navy standard, automated and

continuous positioning systems
•Display of radar, visual and celestial
navigation fix information
•Ability to read and display National
Imagery and Mapping Agency
(NIMA) Digital Nautical Charts
• System-to-system interoperability
The US Navy Approach
• Several Different Programs including
• All programs will use NIMA’s Digital
Nautical Charts.
• Most systems will also be able to read raster
ECDIS-N Platforms

169 combatants scheduled for

NAVSSI/NAVSSI Lite, including
NIMITZ class aircraft carriers,
ARLEIGH BURKE class destroyers,
TICONDEROGA class cruisers,
WASP class amphibious assault
ships and Perry class frigates.

Virginia class SSN will employ

ECDIS-N software for its
Navigation Data Distribution and
Display (ND3) system.

13 FAMOUS class cutters.

There is potential for
installation on other cutters.
Visual Bearing LOP Fix
Radar Range LOP Fix
Piloting Guidance
Automatically calculates:
• cross-track error
• recommended course to
steer accounting for
• nearest hazard Military standard navigation report
• next navigation aid
• depth
• distance and time to turn

Tabular turnpoint solution data

Tide and Current Information
Displayed on the chart…

…and graphically in
pop-up windows.
The Risks of ECDIS
• ECDIS is only a tool that helps a mariner
safely and effectively navigate a ship.
• It is not the end-all be-all to ship navigation.
• One of the biggest risks with the transition
to ECDIS is an over reliance in the
information provided
Some things to consider…
• Poor GPS performance
• DGPS used/not used
• ECDIS malfunction
• installation setup
• ENC compilation errors (e.g., datums)
• chart (errors, omissions, out-dated)
• survey errors
• human error
Any Questions?

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