Written by Walter T. Ham IV
The Department of Homeland Security recognized the U.S. Coast Guard’s Electronic Charts (eCharts) Team with the DHS Award for Excellence at Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., Nov. 7.
The team included Mike Sollosi and Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Walter from the Navigation Standards Division; Douglas Scheffler and Stephen Jones from the Office of Standards Evaluation and Development; and Courtney Mallon from the Office of Regulations and Administrative Law.
In response to public input, the U.S. Coast Guard deemed certain Electronic Navigational Charts connected to position information to be equivalent to paper navigational charts and position plotting. This decision allowed mariners to meet the legal obligations without paper charts.
Affecting nearly 10,000 vessels, the Coast Guard estimates the electronic charts allowance will save the maritime industry more than 450,000 hours and $30.5 million a year over 10 years.
In Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular 01-16 in 2016, the Coast Guard announced the change. In 2017, the service provided an update to NVIC 01-16 that identified voluntary acceptable equivalencies to paper charts and publications as well as position fixing and plotting requirements under Coast Guard regulations.
The updated NVIC also provided guidance and recommendations to vessel owners and operators and chart display manufacturers.
Mariners are not required to use electronic charts or electronic charting systems. The allowance provides a voluntary alternative means to comply with U.S. chart and publication carriage requirements.
“The Coast Guard surveyed current electronic charting equipment and electronic navigation practices and found no significant safety barriers to allowing mariners to capitalize on technology advancements,” said Capt. Mary Ellen Durley, chief of the Office of Navigation Systems.
“When integrated with position information, properly displayed Electronic Navigation Charts can provide real-time vessel location and predicted future movement,” continued Durley.
The U.S. Coast Guard manages navigation systems and regulations across more than 25,000 miles of American waterways that contribute $4.6 trillion to the U.S. economy.
The service recently released the Maritime Commerce Strategic Outlook that highlights the importance of U.S. waterways and the critical missions the Coast Guard accomplishes to keep the U.S. economy on course.
The eCharts initiative is part of the service’s efforts to make American waterways safer, more efficient and more resilient.
“The Coast Guard recognizes the benefit of real-time positioning data conveyed on an ENC as a great situational awareness tool,” said Durley. “This eCharts change saves mariners time and money.”