1.1 The Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention Chapter V Regulation 188.8.131.52 states that all ships irrespective of size shall have "nautical charts and nautical publications to plan and display the ship's route for the intended voyage and to plot and monitor positions throughout the voyage; an electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) is also accepted as meeting the chart carriage requirements of this subparagraph".
1.2 Furthermore, SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 2.2 defines a Nautical Chart or Nautical Publication as "A special-purpose map or book, or a specially compiled database from which such a map or book is derived, that is issued officially by or on the authority of a Government, authorized Hydrographic Office or other relevant government institution and is designed to meet the requirements of marine navigation".
1.3 The Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA) makes exemptions or alternative arrangements from the above requirements for certain types of vessel. For example: MCA Code vessels under 24 metres in length (see Marine Guidance Note 293 M+F); pleasure vessels below 150 tons (see Statutory Instrument 2002 No.1473); fishing vessels between 15 and 24 metres in length (see Merchant Shipping Notice 1770 F) and fishing vessels over 24 metres in length (see the "Fishing Vessels EC Directive on Harmonised Safety Regime Regulations 1999" and the "MCA Draft Code of Practice for the Construction and Safe Operation of Fishing Vessels of 24m registered length and over").
1.4 In addition to nautical charts and nautical publications covered under the above regulations, the MCA also recognises the following products as satisfying certain carriage requirements. Note that the downloadable "MCA Equivalency Letter" must be viewed in each case to determine the extent to which the product provides equivalency (please find a link below):
2. Digital Nautical Publications - Recommendations for System Installation and Use Aboard Ships
2.1. System Installation
2.1.1 The following recommendations arise from consideration of the use of digital Nautical Publications on a vessel in compliance with requirements laid down in SOLAS Chapter V and relevant IMO Guidelines.
2.1.2 In conjunction with these Recommendations the following IMO Circulars should be consulted when implementing digital nautical publications:
MSC/Circ.891 'Guidelines for the on-board use and application of computers'
MSC/Circ.982 'Guidelines on ergonomic criteria for bridge equipment and layout'
MSC/Circ.1091 'Issues to be considered when introducing new technology on board ship'
2.13 As a minimum, the hardware should consist of two computer systems (referred here as primary and secondary computers) each having the functionality of a processor unit, display, keyboard, pointing device (such as a mouse) and the means to load software and data updates.
2.1.4 The processor unit of the computer should be capable of running the official digital nautical publication software products in an effective manner, giving due regard to the specific requirements of the official software products, the operating system in use and the demands of other software products loaded on the computer. Full consideration should be given to the:
2.1.5 The primary computer should be installed close to where the voyage is monitored. It should be designed to meet the environmental conditions defined in IEC60945 and be powered from the main and emergency sources of power on the bridge. The effective display area should measure at least 350 millimetres across the diagonal. The display should be able to be varied in brightness and contrast to enable viewing in all ambient light conditions. The lighting over the keyboard should be adjustable to enable use in all ambient situations. Care should be taken in positioning and setting-up the display and keyboard lighting so that it does not affect the night vision of bridge watch staff.
2.1.6 If the display and controls for accessing digital nautical publications are situated close to the conning position or to a look-out position the display at night should be set to appropriate night-time colours. Great care must be taken in setting brightness adjustments to prevent the display and the keyboard lighting from affecting the night vision of bridge watch staff.
2.1.7 An ECDIS capable of accessing appropriate digital nautical publications may be used as the 'workstation' for the use of such publications. However, digital nautical publications may only be used on ECDIS if the ECDIS equipment has been approved by the flag Administration (type approved) for this purpose.
2.1.8 The primary computer (if not an ECDIS) may also be used to run other software needed for essential bridge support functions, provided these are checked for compatibility with the officially approved products loaded. Digital nautical publications should be available for instant use at any time during the voyage.
2.1.9. On some ships, with a poor electrical supply, it may be necessary to power the primary computer system through an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). This is a self contained battery-driven power inverter that continues to supply good quality electrical power, even when there are fluctuations in the ship's main supply. A UPS can also operate the computer system for some minutes even if there is a complete power failure. It cannot normally be considered to act as the emergency source of power because of the relatively short time before its batteries are exhausted.
2.1.10 A secondary computer is required in case of failure of the primary system. It is ideally situated on the bridge when it should comply with the requirements of Paragraphs 1.2-1.5 above, except
(i) It is not necessary for it to be provided with an emergency source of power.
(ii) It need only comply with the EMC requirements of IEC60945
2.1.11 A network solution can inherently provide a good backup. In this instance prior consideration of the preferred secondary workstation should be made. This should be documented within the ship's bridge procedures. It should be noted that not all officially approved products currently support network operation.
2.1.12 If not mounted on the bridge (and if permitted by the flag Administration), the secondary system may be a good quality office system connected to the ship's normal power supply. It should comply with the requirements of Paragraphs 1.2 and 1.3 above and be situated in a convenient position for access by bridge personnel. It should not be in an area subject to high levels of vibration, heat or humidity, which could lead to damage of the system. The effective display area should measure at least 350 millimetres across the diagonal.
2.1.13 The secondary system may be used for other applications of a critical or non-critical nature, provided that any software loaded is approved by the master and is checked for compatibility with the officially approved products loaded. During the voyage it must be available for instant access to digital nautical publications in the event of a failure of the primary system.
2.1.14 If the secondary system is not on the bridge it is recommended that it is also connected to a colour printer to allow the printing of critical data needed for use at the chart table or elsewhere on the bridge.
2.1.15 A secondary system is not required if the equivalent paper version of the digital nautical publication is available on the bridge and is maintained up-to-date. In that case the bridge computer system need only comply with the EMC requirements of IEC 60945 and not the full environmental requirements specified for the bridge environment.
2.1.16 In placing equipment on the bridge care must be taken to comply with the requirements of SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 15 'Principles relating to bridge design, design and arrangement of navigational systems and equipment and bridge procedures'.
2.1.17 Consideration must be given to protecting the primary and secondary computers (including a network system, if used) against computer viruses. This may be by the installation and regular update of anti-virus software or by strict bridge instructions prohibiting unauthorised use, including the loading of non-approved software or data.
2.2. System Use
2.2.1 Training on the system should be provided to enable operators to use it effectively and maintain the databases to be fully up-to-date. Users new to the particular vessel should be familiarised with the equipment set-up and with the vessel's bridge procedures concerning the use of digital nautical publications, prior to using the equipment.
2.2.2 Updates available in port should be applied before passage planning commences and before leaving port. If updates are received at sea they should be applied as soon as possible. Any changes relevant to the execution of the passage plan should be noted on the passage plan
2.2.3 Updates need to be applied to both primary and secondary systems
2.2.4 Records should be kept of when updates are received and applied
2.2.5 During passage planning it should be checked that any licences concerning the use of the software and its updates will remain valid for a period in excess of the expected worst-case voyage duration. If this is not the case corrective action needs to be taken.
2.2.6 A status check of the primary and secondary systems should be made before leaving port and at least once per day in order to ascertain the availability of the systems. This information should be recorded in the ship's log.
2.2.7 In the event of a failure of the primary or secondary system it should normally be repaired at the next port of call, unless the facilities for such a repair are not available. In the latter case proper thought and action needs to be taken to minimise the effects of failure of the remaining system. That could include, for instance, making a print-out of critical data that may be needed during the voyage before the voyage commences, directly from the digital nautical publication
2.2.8 Bridge instructions should be in place to prohibit any unauthorised use of the primary and secondary systems, such as: the loading of additional software; change of software or hardware configuration; and any use by untrained staff.
MCA Equivalency Letter
|Seamanship Library||Witherby Seamanship International Ltd||Click to Download (305 KB)|
|Admiralty Digital List of Lights||UK Hydrographic Office||Click to Download (349 KB)|
|Admiralty Digital Radio Signals (Volume 6)||UK Hydrographic Office||Click to Download (661 KB)|
|Total Tide||UK Hydrographic Office||Click to Download (461 KB)|
|Digital Form of Admiralty Notice to Mariners||UK Hydrographic Office||Click to Download (319 KB)|
|Digital Lists of Lights||Marine Press of Canada||Click to Download (122 KB)|
|"Chart Track" Notice to Mariners||Bogerd Martin nv||Click to Download (527 KB)|
|Privately Produced Charts||Imray, Laurie, Norie & Wilson Ltd||Click to Download (124 KB)|
|Digitrace - Digital Notice to Mariners||Marine Press of Canada||Click to Download (252 KB)|
|M Notices - CD-ROM and Internet Products||Regs4Ships Ltd||Click to Download (56.6 KB)|
|"Voyager 3" - Digital Notices to Mariners||Thomas Gunn Navigation Services Ltd||Click to Download (272 KB)|
|"Voyager 4" - Digital Notices to Mariners||Thomas Gunn Navigation Services Ltd||Click to Download (226 KB)|
|"DNTM" - Digital Notices to Mariners||John Lilley & Gillie Ltd||Click to Download (243 KB)|
|Digital Admiralty Notices to Mariners - Electronic Courier Service||ChartCo Limited||Click to Download (690 KB)|
|TGT e-DATA||Thomas Gunn Technologies Limited||Click to Download (255 KB)|
If you are a service provider of digital nautical data and would like the MCA to consider your product as satisfying certain carriage requirements, contact the MCA at: