Home' Defence Magazine : Issue 8 2010 Contents 52 www.defence.gov.au/defencemagazine
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The age-old paper navigation chart is making way for the electronic age
following the introduction of an automated system by the Navy’s Australian
Hydrographic Service (AHS) that updates charts in real time.
age Automated system devised by AHS
By Elizabeth Stacey
With 99 per cent of international trade, by volume,
being transported by sea, the AHS introduced the
automated inclusion of temporary and preliminary
Notices to Mariners to their electronic navigational
Hydrographer of Australia and Director General
Navy Hydrographic, Meteorological and
Oceanographic, Commodore Rod Nairn, said
“This is another example of the diversity of the
contribution of the Department of Defence to
protecting Australians and supporting Australia’s
The mandatory implementation of Electronic
Navigation Charts (ENC) by the International
Maritime Organisation (IMO) has modernised
navigation, and forced AHS to diversify its
approach to the products, services and delivery
methods it offers.
A major challenge faced by the AHS, and other
official chart producers, is to maintain consistency
between paper and electronic charts.
All charts are living documents, constantly
updated to reflect the changes in the real world
environment. Both paper and electronic charts
are updated through a Notices to Mariners (NtM)
service. These come in two forms: permanent, and
temporary and preliminary.
Correcting paper products has always been via
manual ink or pencil correction, however, the
introduction of an electronic system of updating
charts proved to be more efficient.
Since the introduction of the first ENC, updates
have only shown permanent changes, for example
a new wharf. However, temporary changes
(such as a damaged light beacon), or preliminary
notifications (such as planned change to a port
infrastructure) would have to be manually added
to the ENC by the end user, in a similar fashion to
that of a paper chart.
In October 2009, the International Hydrographic
Organization (IHO) introduced S-65 Edition 1.2
– Electronic Navigational Charts “Production
In response, the AHS implemented a full ENC
update service. This service now includes the
automatic application of temporary and preliminary
NtM in Australian ENC, resulting in significant
safety and efficiency gains for all mariners.
“Instead of having to create Mariner Information
Objects (MIOs) to alert of temporary changes to
the ENC, the changes are already on the update
that the end user uploads,” Port Kembla Port
Corporation Harbour Master Kell Dillon said.
• Under the terms of the UN Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention
and the Navigation Act, the AHS is responsible for the provision of
hydrographic services within Australia’s area of charting responsibility.
• As Australia’s official chart provider, the AHS supplies charts and
navigation products not only to Defence, but to all commercial and
aBOVe: The Pacific Tug tugboat assists a dredge boat at Bribie Island, providing an example of how navigation
charts need to be constantly updated. Photo: Robert Peters, Pacific Tug maintenance manager
“For example, an area of the port is officially 15.2m
deep, but this depth has been reduced by siltation
to an actual depth, 15.1m. On the ENC, the actual
depth of 15.1m will be done as depth value one
and the designed depth of 15.2m will be listed as
depth value two.
“The mariner clicks on the particular area and
the chart shows the current least depth. This
information will greatly aid the exchange of
information between Master and the Harbour pilot
and greatly aids safety and efficiency of pilotage
and port operations.”
Another commercial user of the AHS official ENC is
Pacific Tug, a company located in Queensland.
“It’s good to see the live data on screen.
The electronic charts are easy to use. I just log
on to the Internet and it grabs all the latest
updates,” Pacific Tug Operations Manager Aaron
“We can get into some pretty interesting situations
assisting the big ships in shallow waters, such as
when we held the nose steady for a dredge putting
sand back onto Bribie Island beach. Just being able
LefT: This graph shows ship gross tonnage and year. Source: UKHO RIgHT: Temporary depth information in a Notice to Mariners is encoded in Electronic Navigation Charts to show
actual depth versus charted depth of a maintained channel in Port Kembla Harbour. Source: Australian Hydrographic Service
to look on screen and see exactly where we are,
gives you that extra bit of confidence.”
The Electronic Navigation Charts are also used
With each vessel needing to maintain an extensive
portfolio to meet its operational requirements, the
burden of updating ENC manually was evident.
This improved service has greatly reduced the
workload for navigators and is realising the full
potential of ENC.
Staff at the AHS are also working hard to give
Australia full ENC coverage by the new year,
having already published 90 per cent of planned
initial coverage in readiness for the International
Maritime Organization’s introduction of compulsory
ECDIS and ENC use from 2012.
Updated ENC are available on both the DRN
and AHS website, at the links below:
HYDRO a finalist for
maritime services award
Australia’s official nautical
charting authority, the Navy’s
Australian Hydrographic Service, has
been nominated as one of five finalists
for the Lloyds List DCN Australian
Shipping & Maritime Industry Awards,
on 25 November at the prestigious
Ivy Ballroom, Sydney.
“The AHS was nominated for the Maritime Services
Award for its new print on demand service, introduced
in October 2010,” Hydrographer of Australia
Commodore Rod Nairn said.
Printing nautical charts on demand means that the
user gets all of their charts up-to-date as soon as
those changes are published.
In total, the AHS distributes approximately 180,000
charts annually for Navy use and to meet Government
obligations under the UN Convention on Safety Of Life
At Sea (SOLAS). Being able to provide this service
more efficiently and effectively than was previously
possible is a significant outcome.
Further details regarding the print on demand service
are published in an article in the Snapshot section of
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