Production of official electronic navigational charts (ENCs) for the Norwegian coast is the Norwegian Hydrographic Service's highest priority.

The Eletronic Navigational Charts (ENC) contain all the chart information necessary for safe navigation, and may contain supplementary information in addition to that contained in the paper chart (e.g. sailing directions) which may be considered necessary for safe navigation.

ECDIS is a type of navigational electronic chart system for installation on the bridge of a vessel. When used in an ECDIS system, the electronic charts (ENCs) can replace paper charts for navigation.

Production of ENCs

Electronic navigational charts (ENCs) are produced in accordance with international requirements as regards content and structure. They are delivered in accordance with the "ENC Product Specification" of the S57 standard, which was prepared with regard to the exchange of hydrographic data.

The data is part of a seamless database, in which the data is divided into chart cells with defined limitation and data amounts. The individual chart cells are identified by a unique cell number. The data is continuously updated through the distribution of revision files.

Notices to Mariners

In addition to data obtained through surveys carried out by the Norwegian Hydrographic Service itself, information on changes to infrastructure along the coast is also collected from various public bodies. This includes cable data, lights and navigational aids, aquaculture structures, bridges, etc. Changes of significant navigational importance are published consecutively in the Etterretninger for sjøfarende (Efs), the Norwegian notices to mariners.

Feedback through ENC Improver

ENC Improver is a web-based feedback system for Norwegian Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC).

ENC Improver has been designed to provide users with a simple system to give feedback on Norwegian ENCs. Feedback from the users are important contributions, which helps to ensure that the ENCs remain updated and that safety at sea is maintained.

Everybody who has an ENC license for navigation will receive user access to ENC Improver through their supplier.

Electronic chart systems

There are many different types and models of electronic chart systems, but they can be divided into three main groups: Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), Electronic Chart System (ECS) and Raster Chart Display System (RCDS).

Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS)

This navigation information system complies with the requirements stipulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO). When used with an approved backup system, it is considered a legal replacement for paper charts – if the data is prepared in accordance with the stipulated requirement specifications (S57 ENC Product Specification). The ECDIS must also be type-certified.

Electronic Chart System (ECS)

The Electronic Chart System (ECS) is a common term for chart systems that does not comply with the "IMO Performance Standards". Such systems will not satisfy the requirements related to navigational charts on board vessels as defined in SOLAS Chapter V (International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea).

An ECS system is therefore a navigational aid, and cannot be used as a legal replacement for paper charts on board vessels.

Raster Chart Display System (RCDS)

This chart system uses raster data. As a result, the system does not comply with the ECDIS requirements. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has therefore not approved raster charts as equal to paper charts, but has still allowed use of raster data in ECDIS if there is no relevant ENC data for the area.

However, it must be emphasised that the use of raster charts in Norwegian waters will not supersede the requirement to have updated paper charts on board.

Primar ENC Service

Primar is an international cooperation for the provision of a consistent and reliable Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC) service. It is a worldwide ENC service operated by the Norwegian Hydrographic Service on a non-profit basis.

The service incorporates the regional ENC coordinating centre (RENC), based on bilateral agreements with several nations as well as direct licence and distributor agreements with other hydrographic offices and distributors. The Primar RENC is operated in accordance with the worldwide electronic navigational chart database (WEND) principles of the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO).

The Primar RENC also cooperates with other RENCs, such as IC-ENC in the UK. This collaboration covers standards and technical issues as well as the distribution of information to the global shipping market.

Read more about Primar.