NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey, which creates and maintains the nation’s suite of more than 1,000 nautical charts of U.S. coastal waters, announced in late October that it will no longer print traditional lithographic charts beginning April 13.
NOAA will continue to provide other forms of nautical charts, including Print-on-Demand paper charts as well as electronic and digital formats.
Since 1862, those lithographic nautical charts have been printed by the U.S. government and sold to the public by commercial vendors. The decision to stop production is based on several factors: the declining demand for lithographic charts, the increasing use of digital and electronic charts, and federal budget realities, NOAA said in a statement announcing the decision.
“With the end of traditional paper charts, our primary concern continues to be making sure that boaters, fishing vessels, and commercial mariners have access to the most accurate, up-to-date nautical chart in a format that works well for them,” said Capt. Shep Smith, chief of Coast Survey’s Marine Chart Division. “Fortunately, advancements in computing and mobile technologies give us many more options than was possible years ago.”
NOAA will continue to create and maintain other forms of nautical charts, including Print-on-Demand (POD) charts, updated paper charts available from NOAA-certified printers. NOAA electronic navigational charts (ENC) and raster navigational charts (RNC) are updated weekly and available for free download from the Coast Survey Web site (www.nauticalcharts.noaa.gov). Also at that Web site, NOAA has made available a new product: full-scale PDF nautical charts, available on a trial basis.