Office of Coast Survey
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
U.S. Department of Commerce

NOAA releases final National Charting Plan

NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey released the National Charting Plan following a public comment period that ended in July 2017. A draft version of the plan was released in February 2017. The final version reflects the feedback received from professional mariners, recreational boaters, print-on-demand chart publishers, third-party data providers, software developers, and other users of NOAA charts.

The National Charting Plan is a strategy to improve NOAA nautical chart coverage, products, and distribution. It describes the evolving state of marine navigation and nautical chart production, and outlines actions that will provide the customer with a suite of products that are more useful, up-to-date, and safer to navigate with. It is not a plan for the maintenance of individual charts, but a strategy to improve all charts.

Much of the content of the original draft remains unchanged, but several topics were added or clarified. These include the following:

  • Provides a more nuanced discussion of future production of raster and paper nautical charts. NOAA has no current plans to stop the production of paper or raster nautical charts. However, raster charts may look a bit different in the future.
  • Includes an acknowledgement of the role played by third-party providers of information based on NOAA raster chart products.
  • Includes an acknowledgement of the growing amount of source data that is coming from non-traditional or “crowd-source” data providers.
  • Coast survey received fewer than twenty comments regarding the possible conversion of depths from fathoms and feet to meters. These came from both recreational boaters and professional mariners. The majority of the comments favored retaining the standard U.S. units of fathoms and feet.
  • Coast survey is proceeding to make ENCs more compatible with metric units (The international product specification for ENC mandates that depths must be encoded in meters). However, raster charts will continue to show depths in fathoms and feet.
  • Coast Survey is prototyping some options that would allow users to create customized raster charts by selecting the chart size and scale, as well as the units used to display depths.
  • In partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Coast Survey will continue to explore ways to improve the consistent, up-to-date provision of depth information in channels maintained by the Corps. This will likely change the way channel depths are portrayed on charts.
  • Includes a section describing Coast Survey’s support to the U.S. Baseline Committee and the charting of important maritime boundaries.

You may ask a question or report a problem with any of Coast Survey’s products or services through the NOAA Nautical Inquiry and Comment System.

11/15/2017