USCG updates electronic chart policy

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The U.S. Coast Guard announced an update to its navigation guidance for the use of electronic charts in lieu of paper charts and publications.

The updated version of Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circular (NVIC) 01-16 identifies voluntary acceptable equivalencies to paper charts and publications, as well as position fixing and plotting requirements under US Coast Guard regulations. It also provides guidance and recommendations to vessel owners and operators and chart display manufacturers.

“We took into account feedback from agency partners and industry stakeholders to adjust our electronic charts policy,” said Capt. Mary Ellen J. Durley, the chief of the Office of Navigation Systems.

Mariners are not required to use electronic charts or electronic charting systems. The updated guidance offers a voluntary alternative means to comply with U.S. chart and publication carriage requirements, USCG notes.


  • One way to ensure display systems are operating correctly, displaying all relevant features and continuing to be an equivalent to paper charts is for manufacturers and users to maintain communication through the display system’s service life. Users are encouraged to be aware of the latest information and updates available from their ENC authority and/or display system manufacturer.
  • The Coast Guard recommends vessel owners and operators address procedures for a loss of charts, display systems and/or publications in a Safety Management System (SMS). The Coast Guard further encourages an independent back-up arrangement when using ENCs. Such arrangement could be a secondary system that meets the equivalency or a full folio of currently corrected paper charts.
  • If the back-up arrangement is an additional ENC display, then mariners should consider interfacing it with the same navigation equipment as the primary system. The goal would be to provide a seamless transition of navigation information in the event of a failure.
  • If a vessel chooses to use an SMS, marine inspectors should verify that loss procedures are addressed in it. Further, marine inspectors should check for evidence of successful implementation of those procedures. Marine inspectors should work with Third Party Organizations to address SMS procedures or implementation deficiencies.

Further details may be found in the official document: