The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Thursday made official its plans to eliminate printing of paper nautical charts.
NOAA published its plan in the Federal Register Thursday and opened the comment period. Comments on the plan are due by midnight , February 3. Comments can be submitted by mail to Director, Office of Coast Survey, 1315 East-West Highway #6216, Silver Spring MD 20910; or by using the online NOAA Nautical Inquiry & Comment System at nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/inquiry.
Under the plan, NOAA will privatize the printing of nautical charts. Starting April 13, commercial, NOAA-certified print-on-demand providers will be the only official source to obtain paper nautical charts. There are currently two approved providers: OceanGrafix and East View Geospatial.
NOAA also plans to make charts available digitally in three ways:
- Until January 22, NOAA is providing free digital chart image files in PDF format. NOAA will evaluate the usage and user feedback to decide whether to continue providing public access to PDF nautical charts. It’s important to note that the free PDF charts do not meet chart carriage requirements under federal regulations unless printed to NOAA quality standards by a NOAA-certified POD partner. Download PDF charts at nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/pdfcharts.
- NOAA’s Office of Coast Survey is providing high-resolution NOAA raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC) for public testing and evaluation in a few test areas: Tampa Bay, Detroit, Long Island Sound, and Puget Sound. If no problems are identified or left unresolved, Coast Survey intends to upgrade all RNCs by February. Download the evaluation datasets at www.charts.noaa.gov/RNCs_400/.
- An online seamless viewer of NOAA’s electronic navigational charts (NOAA ENC®) is available for public use at the Web site nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/ENCOnline/.
The published notice in the Federal Register is here.