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Supply, upkeep and readyness of navigational charts and how to correct them

Paper charts are essential navigational tools on nearly every vessel, even with advances in technology that make digital electronic maps affordable and convenient. They serve as a primary means to plan and record routes, a proper backup to electronic charts, and a reliable source of safety-critical information about worldwide navigable waters.

Before proceeding to sea, all ships must maintain an accurate inventory of all charts for the intended voyage. The Master should keep and manage the latest editions of Charts (of a large enough scale) & Nautical Publications for the areas the merchant vessel routinely trades. Besides, he is also to keep selected Charts and Nautical Publications, taking into consideration the possibility of an emergency entry into such waters.

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There are currently two methods of carrying out electronic chart corrections, either via Weekly Updates, CD or downloaded weekly from a recognized electric chart supplier's data. The preferred method will be decided by the Management Office, depending on the communications equipment onboard the vessel. Still, in most cases, the lack of internet access will determine the update CD as the best option. This regular update CD should be arranged through vessel management office under a folio management contract, similar to that which should be in place for the paper charts and publications onboard.

Section of a nautical chart
Section of a nautical chart

In circumstances where the electronic chart data is used for reference only, such systems must be maintained up-to-date. If the electronic chart software onboard is not supported with regular updates, the system must be switched off. Where such equipment is recorded on the Safety Equipment certification of the vessel, the Class will require notification. Uncorrected chart data appearing on the electronic chart may confuse the navigator compared with data recorded on the paper chart and this is a dangerous condition for the vessel. Vessels using ECDIS as the primary means of navigation, as specifically approved by their flag state, must be subject to regular software updates as this will have been a condition of the ship-specific approval.

All corrections to charts and publications are available through a contractor who is authorized by various major hydrographic organizations. All revisions to active Charts (current portfolio) are also possible via email and blocks correction to publications as well as full Notice to Mariners sent monthly by a disc in mail packet. Charts must also be corrected with any local Notices to Mariners issued by a port. For ships fitted with ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display System), the Company (through a contractor) supplies disc containing updates of charts. However, it is emphasized that the where primary means of navigation is the paper chart and ECDIS is only an aid to navigation.


Correction Of Charts & Nautical Publications

A responsible officer should immediately correct the present voyage charts & publications upon receipt of the corrections, followed by other charts and publications. Only current editions of Charts and Publications are to be used. Canceled editions must be marked so, in pen, and removed from the wheelhouse's confines (territory). If there is a change in the route or the trading pattern, the previous charts must be corrected until Master is sure that the vessel will not revert to that route in the foreseeable future. A vessel using Digitrace should thoroughly familiarize/read the manual for the correction of Charts and Nautical Publications.

Temporary (T) & Preliminary (P) notice numbers are to be recorded in Chart Correction Record . Such information is readily available in weekly notices to mariners or from the Digitrace system as well as from the monthly Digitrace update CDs (containing complete Notices to Mariners with corrections for all Charts & Publications). Applicable T & P corrections shall then be made in Pencil on all charts to be used for the current voyage. After correcting affected voyage charts for relevant T & P corrections, the correction number shall be entered in Pencil at the location of revision and the bottom of the chart.
After making such correction, suitable annotation shall be made in the Chart Correction Record to indicate that the correction has been physically created on the chart. Any canceled T & P notices should be struck out in the Chart Correction Record and erased from the corresponding charts. A copy of the current In-Force list (usually published monthly) shall be filed along with the Chart Correction Record and used for monitoring and verification of current T & P notices in force.

Navigational Warnings promulgated through Notices to Mariners (Navareas / Hydrolant / Hydropac) should be filed area wise as long as valid (removed when canceled), in a dedicated file, and relevant ones marked on voyage charts. Navigational warnings received through EGC or Navtex should also be marked on the chart if applicable, and the printout retained for one year. It is necessary for all officers of the watch and Master to read all such printouts and also the Weather Fax messages.

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How to correct the nautical publications

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