ECS/ECDIS Requirements Post-Paper Charts

Hello all,

I work on a US-flagged vessel that only transits in domestic waters. My superiors are certain that we will require an ECDIS after paper charts are no longer available, but I was of the idea that because we only operate domestically that we are only required to use an ECS with ENC charts (in this case, Rose Point’s Coastal Explorer).

Can anyone point me to the NVIC or regulation that specifies this? I’ve been doing some Googling but my verbiage doesn’t seem to produce the results I’ve been looking for.

The vessel is 2000 GT, by the way.

NVIC 01-16

I’m not sure how to tell what RTCM class an ECS is though, if any are classed yet.

I googled “USCG NVIC electronic charts” and it was the first result.

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Who says that we are going to lose paper charts?
I thought that were measures in place to increase the knowledge of more traditional skills so as to avoid single point failures when being totally reliant on electronic systems.

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I don’t know what the chart carriage requirements are for U.S. domestic waters but there is no plan to end the production of paper charts that I’m aware of.

Free PDF Nautical Charts Now Available

The data will be available on-line and anyone with the right equipment can print out charts after NOAA stops printing them.

Ships that are required to carry a navigational chart “published by the National Ocean Service” should obtain printed charts from NOAA-certified Print-on-Demand (POD) providers.

International ecdis only goes to 3000 ton I think, so local trade at 2000, will have paper till there are no trees
Might go to google maps first…lol

Are you SURE about that?
IIRC, at some point the RNC charts will quit being maintained and maybe not even available, so the “paper” charts will be some half-ass printed version of an ENC :frowning:
Thread creep - I am back to using Aquamap, they fixed their vanishing buoy issue and overlaying the USACE surveys on the chart is just the ticket for ICW and other shallow/shifting water work.

By the way, for those who want “paper” charts for any reason, the extra charge to have them printed on Tyvek is worth it. Much better than the flimsy crap charts are printed on today. Stands up to tears and erasing.


They are allowed to be paperless with the right ECS.

Me, along with plenty of my professionally active colleagues and many other sensible maritime practitioners and theorists, incl. experts / specialists from IMO, EMSA and national hydrographic offices and maritime administration agencies.

But I would not say that we will lose them, only that most of us have already thrown them away and we will forget about them very quickly, we will all simply stop using them soon.

As I stated before, I do not know the specifics of the US Merchant Navy and your national regulations. However, in the whole civilized world, the ECS (Electronic Chart System) does not meet SOLAS chapter V requirements to carry a navigational charts. Therefore, it cannot replace paper charts and can only be used as a aid to navigation.
The 2000 GT is already quite a big boat and I do not understand why your superiors do not want properly (reasonable?) equip she.

Any way, you should rather clarify this with your classification society, they will or may not issue the appropriate certificates.

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Most US flagged vessels aren’t bound by SOLAS so that doesn’t matter.

Yes it can if it meets certain performance specifications.

Well bully for you and all your chums.
The 14,000 GRT, Bahamian registered cross channel ferry that I work on still has paper charts as the primary means of navigation.
Obviously they mostly stay in the chart drawer and the work is generally carried out by the ECDIS.

sure I was thinking mandatory ecdis regulations

You are contradicting yourself .

After all, I have indicated that I do not understand your system and refer to the international regulations applicable in the civilized world.

We cannot have a single ECDIS as the primary means of navigation.
We can (and do) have paper charts as primary and ECDIS as secondary.

We can have one ECDIS as primary and a second, completely independent from the first, as a secondary means of navigation. Obviously that costs a lot of money so having a limited paper chart portfolio for the small area that we operate makes sense.

Yes, we can, and even we should.

No, you cannot, and you must not.

Yes, that is the best solution.

It makes no sense and this is the worst solution for several reasons, such as

  • safety
  • workload
  • work organization
  • cost-effectiveness and so on.

An oldie but a goodie.

Hackers took ‘full control’ of container ship’s navigation systems for 10 hours - IHS Fairplay - RNTF (

Try hacking my paper chart.
I’m in charge of the pencil.


So is it New Zealand or Bahamas that you’re saying is not part of the civilized world? Or both? @Hornblower is from New Zealand and he’s sailing on a Bahamian vessel.

Actually I’m from Blighty but it is still considered mildly civilized.
As for the international regulations, try SOLAS although I haven’t got a copy at home for some reason so I may well be mistaken.

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So far our colleague Hornblower has misinterpreted the concept of the “primary means of navigation”, has misquoted the IMO requirements for ECDIS and cited his phobias about eNav. This has nothing to do with the international regulation implemented in New Zealand.

in addition, it incorrectly determines the size of the vessel.