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NOAA seeks public input on end of paper charts


The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking public feedback on its five-year program to end all raster and paper nautical chart production. 

Ultimately, production of all NOAA paper nautical charts, raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC), and related products, such as BookletCharts, will cease. 

According to NOAA, sales of its electronic navigational charts have increased by 425% since 2008, while sales of paper charts in the same period have dropped by half. The agency is in the midst of a multi-year program to improve its ENC coverage. Access to paper chart products based on ENC data will continue to be available through the online NOAA Custom Chart application or third-party commercial data providers. 

Feedback from chart users and companies that provide products and services based on NOAA raster and electronic navigational chart (NOAA ENC) products will help shape the manner and timing in which the sunsetting process will proceed. Comments are due by midnight, Feb. 1, and can be submitted through NOAA’s ASSIST feedback tool here, or mailed to: National Ocean Service, NOAA (NCS2), ATTN Sunset of Raster Charts, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3282.

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is the nation’s nautical chartmaker. Originally formed by President Thomas Jefferson in 1807, the agency updates charts, surveys the coastal seafloor, responds to maritime emergencies, and searches for underwater obstructions that pose a danger to navigation. For more information, visit

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    7 thoughts on “NOAA seeks public input on end of paper charts

    1. guy grant

      never give up on the paper chart, what happens when you loose power or signal, how do you DR on a laptop

    2. Alan Bingham

      An essential back up. You can lose power, break the chartplotter and even have a ‘technical error’ but the paper still works. Also, its what you grab as you abandon ship because in the life raft there are seldom power outlets or extra batteries.

    3. Capt. Mark Bologna

      All prudent mariners know the importance of having up to date paper charts on board. By eliminating paper charts, it puts the boating public at risk. Electronic charting is vulnerable to hacking, atmospheric interference, as referenced in NOAA’s article Space Weather and GPS Systems and simple human misinterpretation of what is being presented on electronic charts. It would be a tremendous error to eliminate paper charts.

    4. Douglas W. Meyer

      Paper charts are the ultimate and necessary fall back for navigation. They also compliment electronic navigating, for instance, providing an overall or wider view while the electric component is giving a close-up picture. They are also invaluable for trip planning.
      I never sail without paper.

    5. Joe Cooper

      This is a very bad idea.
      It contravenes the Col Regs,”vessels will plot their position by all available means”.
      Electronics and electricity is not a constant given on at least recreational boats, and likely some fishing boats.

      From the website:

      How vulnerable is GPS to malicious jamming? Could a terrorist with a GPS jammer cause airplanes to crash?

      Like all radio-based services, GPS is subject to interference from both natural and human-made sources. A GPS unit can lose reception in the presence of devices designed for intentional radio jamming. Solar flares can also disrupt GPS equipment. For this reason, the U.S. government strongly encourages all GPS users to maintain backup/alternative positioning, navigation, and timing capabilities. In addition, the government is currently fielding new GPS signals that are more resistant to interference.
      Commercial aircraft that use GPS are required to maintain alternative means of navigation. If intentional jamming were directed against aircraft, the pilots would revert to other sensors and ground-based navigation aids. Air traffic control would continue to provide surveillance services and ensure aircraft separation.

      Paper charts are a basic form of position finding for mariners and no amount of electronic gizmos will ever change that.

    6. Safety at Sea Chairman-Marion Bermuda Race - Ed Stott

      As a strong advocate of Safety at Sea, paper charts are more than just the fallback of failed electronics, they are still the “go-to” of navigation. Yes, we are in the digital age, but like everything else, electronic navigation is a double-edged sword. Great when all things are working and a disaster if electronics are not working.

      Electronic navigation is JUST another tool, not to replace all the tried-and-true tools prudent boaters have become accustomed to.

      Not every experienced boater is an electronic whiz kid … and even if he/she were well acquainted with the precise workings of electronic navigation …”Stuff Happens”.
      What happens to the offshore sailor 600 miles out on a passage to the Caribbean and the electronics go down, or the ship’s alternator fails, killing the batteries? Now, where are those paper charts I wish I had?

      It would be a bad decision to remove paper charts and a decision that would impair many from completing a safe passage, whether it’s a long ocean passage or a 10-mile cruise close to shore.

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