Electronic Charting Information

Electronic Charts and ECDIS Explained


Electronic Charts, ECDIS and ECS Explained

For a comprehensive overview about electronic charts (ENC and RNC), electronic charting systems (ECDIS and ECS) and electronic chart carriage requirements under the International Convention on the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), we recommend you read the following IHO publication:

This publication is written in an easy to read “question and answer” style and answers over twenty of the most commonly asked questions about electronic charts and their use in ECDIS and ECS. It contains the following information:

Section 1: An overview of electronic charting and regulations. This section explains what an ECDIS is, what an ECS is, what constitutes an ENC, what an RNC is, what ‘RCDS’ mode on an ECDIS is and explains chart carriage requirements under SOLAS regulations.
Section 2: A list of contacts for detailed information on Flag State Implementation of ECDIS.
Section 3: ECDIS training objectives.
Section 4: Technical details about ENCs and RNCs. This section explains the benefits of ENCs over paper charts, explains what a ‘SENC’ is, what a ‘RENC’ is and explains the differences between official and private (non official) electronic chart data.
Section 5: Glossary/List of Abbreviations of electronic charting terms, references and relevant IMO Safety of Navigation Circulars.

Note: The document was originally produced by the Primar and IC-ENC Regional ENC Coordination Centres (RENCs). In 2008 it was adopted by the IHO and following further revision it was published in January 2010 as IHO publication S-66.

 

Use of Electronic Charts in Australian Waters Explained

Note: We recommend that you read the Facts about Electronic Charts and Carriage Requirements to become familiar with electronic charting terms and concepts prior to reading the following information.

What kinds of official electronic charts are available covering Australian waters?
Official charts are those issued by, or on the authority of, a Government authorised Hydrographic Office or other relevant government institution. The Australian Hydrographic Office (AH)) is Australia’s national charting authority. It is the only authority that can publish official paper and electronic charts of the Australian Charting Area.

The AHO publishes official electronic charts covering Australian, Australian Antarctic Territory, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands waters as Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC).

Which ENC services include coverage of Australian, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands waters?

AusENC:

The AHO distributes its ENC nationally under the ‘AusENC’ service. AusENC is sold in a range of packs at affordable prices with coverage tailored to domestic Australian operations. This service includes the full portfolio of published ENC covering Australian, Australian Antarctic Territory, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island waters. For a full description of this service see the AusENC page on this website.

Other ENC services: The AHO has also enabled the ENC it publishes to be included in a number of international ENC services offered by the IC-ENC distribution network (such as Admiralty Vector Chart Service (AVCS)) and PRIMAR. These services are generally tailored to large, international, commercial shipping and may not include the full portfolio of published ENC covering Australian, Australian Antarctic Territory, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island waters. For more information on other ENC services, visit the IC-ENC (www.ic-enc.org) and PRIMAR (www.primar.org) websites.

Which RNC services include coverage of Australian, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands waters?

ARCs: The AHO has enabled copies of the paper charts it publishes to be included in the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) Admiralty Raster Chart Service (ARCS). ARCS is tailored to large, international, commercial shipping. It includes coverage of major shipping routes and major ports but does not include coverage where these large ships don’t go such as small ports and harbours. ARCS may not include copies of the full portfolio of AHO published paper charts covering Australian, Australian Antarctic Territory, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Island waters. More information about ARCS can be found at the Admiralty website at www.admiralty.co.uk.

How will I recognise an official ENC of Australian waters?
You will be able to recognise AHO published ENC, regardless of the ENC service they are included in, by the ENC file name.

All ENC are named with eight-character file name controlled by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO). The first two characters identify the ENC producer. The AHO, as a national hydrographic authority, has been allocated the ENC producer code of ‘AU”. Therefore all ENC produced by the AHO, have file names that begin with ‘AU’. No one else can use this producer code so if you come across an ENC with an ‘AU’ identifier you will know that it has been produced and published by the AHO regardless of the ENC service you have purchased.

Producing Nation
(always 2 letters)

Navigation Purpose Code
(no. in range
1 to 5)

Unique File Number

(always 5 characters)

A U

3

12123

Notes:

  1. The AHO is the Primary Charting Authority for the National Maritime Safety Authority Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands Maritime Safety Administration.¬†As Primary Charting Authority the AHO publishes ENC of Papua New Guinea waters with an ‘AU’ producer code and publishes ENC of Solomon Islands waters with an ‘SB’ producer code.
  2. Use of non official data in an IMO compliant ECDIS will result in a warning being displayed on the screen.

How will I recognise an official RNC of Australian waters?
Official Raster Nautical Charts (RNCs) of Australian, Australian Antarctic Territory, Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands waters are only included in the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office’s Admiralty Raster Chart Service (ARCS).

RNCs are digital facsimiles of paper navigational charts. This means that RNC chart numbers will be identical to the corresponding paper navigational chart. All paper navigational charts covering Australian, Australian Antarctic Territory and Papua New Guinea are named with an ‘Aus’ prefix, for example ‘Aus 200’. This means that all RNC covering Australian and Papua New Guinea waters will also have an ‘Aus’ prefix. All paper navigational charts and RNCs covering Solomon Islands waters will have an ‘SLB’ prefix.

How are AusENCs kept up to date?

AusENC: When you purchase a subscription to any AusENC pack, you will automatically receive a free, fortnightly, web-based update service for the duration of your subscription. A CD update service is also available for a fee to cover manufacturing and postage.

Who are official electronic charts suitable for?

What are the electronic chart carriage rules and regulations in Australian waters?
SOLAS Vessels:
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) - Chapter V requires that vessels (other than fishing vessels) greater than 500 tonnes, or vessels greater than 50 tonnes when engaged on international voyages, carry up to date official nautical charts, sailing directions, list of lights, notices to mariners, tide tables and all other nautical publications necessary for the intended voyage. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) also requires that the master or officer in charge of navigation use the largest (most detailed) scale charts for the intended route, corrected with the latest available information.

An ECDIS operating with official electronic charts (ENC and RNC) may be accepted as meeting the chart carriage requirements of SOLAS Chapter V, subject to certain requirements.

In Australian waters, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority sets the rules, under the Australian Navigation Act 2012, for vessels entering and operating within Australian waters. The Australian implementation of SOLAS regulations are set out in AMSA Marine Orders / Notices.

If you are a SOLAS mariner and want to find out about electronic chart carriage requirements in Australian waters you should consult the following Australian Maritime Safety Authority Marine Orders/Notices:

AusENCs and RNCs
In summary, AusENCs allow vessels navigating in Australian waters to meet chart carriage regulations under SOLAS Chapter V regulations (and AMSA) regulations provided they are kept up to date, used on an IMO compliant ECDIS with appropriate backup arrangements and the ECDIS is operated by appropriately trained and competent users.

ARCS allow vessels navigating in Australia to meet chart carriage regulations under SOLAS Chapter V (and AMSA) regulations provided they are kept up-to-date, they are only used in areas where ENCs are not available, they are used on an IMO compliant ECDIS in Raster Chart Display System (RCDS) mode with appropriate backup arrangements and the ECDIS is operated by appropriately trained and competent users.

Any requirements for an appropriate folio of paper charts whilst operating in RCDS mode are specifically addressed in AMSA Marine Notice 7/2017.

AustralianState Registered Commercial Vessels:
Non SOLAS class commercial vessels are required to comply with the AMSA's National Standard for Commercial Vessels (NSCV).

AusENC and ARCS when kept up-to-date, will allow commercial vessels 12 metres or more in length and engaged in Australian domestic operations to meet the NSCV when used in an IMO compliant ECDIS or NSCV compliant ECS. However, it is good practice to carry appropriate nautical charts on vessels less than 12m in length when operating outside port and harbour limits.

For more information about carriage requirements, refer to NSCV Section B on area and vessel types and Part C, Subsection 7C regarding Navigation Equipment at: www.amsa.gov.au/vessels-operators/regulations-and-standards-vessels/national-standard-commercial-vessels.

Recreational Vessels:
In New South Wales, Northern Territory and South Australia it is a requirement to carry an official chart when going offshore or beyond smooth waters. In all other states it is recommended as good practice.
AusENC and ARCS, when kept up-to-date, will allow recreational vessels to meet state electronic chart regulations. See the table below for further details:


State

Chart carriage requirements

Interstate Marine Authorities

Queensland

Recommended for smooth, partially smooth and beyond smooth waters

Maritime Safety Queensland
www.msq.qld.gov.au

New South Wales

Required for open waters

NSW Roads and Maritime Services
www.maritime.nsw.gov.au

Victoria

Advisable for all waters

Transport Safety Victoria
www.transportsafety.vic.gov.au

South Australia

Unprotected waters
All Vessels > 10 nautical miles from Shore

Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
www.transport.sa.gov.au

Tasmania

Advisable for all waters

Marine and Safety Tasmania
www.mast.tas.gov.au

Northern Territory

For vessels > 5 metres

https://nt.gov.au/marine/marine-safety

What are the system requirements to use AusENC?

AusENC are protected under the IHO S-63 data protection scheme. To use AusENC you will need a navigation system that is “IHO S-63 compatible”. For more information see AusENC System Requirements.

What are the system requirements to use ARCS?

ARCS are produced in encrypted HCRF format and require a navigation system that is ‘ARCS compatible’.

Where do I buy AusENC?
AusENC is commercially available through AusENC distribution agents.

However, Australian port authorities may request AusENC that cover their area of port limits or areas of operation, directly from the AHO as part of data sharing arrangements. For further information, please contact the AHO Licensing Manager:

P: (02) 4223 6500 F: (02) 4223 6599 E: hydro.licensing@defence.gov.au