NOAA 03-068
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2003
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“E-Government” Initiative Provides Easily Accessible Nautical Information

Since their inception, downloads of Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) from the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), have exceeded 500,000 with daily downloads reaching an all time high on May 3, 2003, with over 7,200 downloads. The ENC program is part of the administration’s “E-Government” initiative to make information easily accessible to the public. Managed by NOAA National Ocean Service’s Office of Coast Survey, ENCs provide up-to-date charting data supporting safe navigation of the U.S. marine transportation system.

“President Bush’s E-Government Initiative allows technology to have a more positive impact on the lives of all Americans,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph. D., under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmospheric and NOAA administrator. “This common-sense initiative has made electronic navigational charts more readily available to more Americans than ever before, which will improve maritime safety and commerce.”

NOAA placed provisional ENCs on the Internet in July of 2001 for testing and evaluation by the public. Since then, the total number of ENC downloads has exceeded half a million. The charts are free to the public and easily accessible for download on the Office of Coast Survey Web site,

Two different versions of the charts are available. The first version is intended for navigating deep-draft commercial vessels, and the second is a more comprehensive database containing the same information found on paper charts. The ENCs cover the nation’s 40 major commercial port areas.

“NOAA ENCs provide the nation with accurate and timely charting information for safe and efficient navigation,” said Captain David MacFarland, director of the Office of Coast Survey. “ENCs are more precise and provide mariners with a far more complete and accurate depiction of the waterway than a traditional paper chart.”

NOAA ENCs support all types of marine navigation by providing the official database for Electronic Charting Systems (ECS) and Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS), the international standard developed to ensure global usability. When combined with input from other sources such as GPS and real-time oceanographic data, systems using ENCs are able to assist mariners in avoiding groundings and collisions with fixed objects.

NOAA ENCs can also be used in geographic information systems (GIS) for any number of applications, such as fish habitat mapping, coastal zone management, emergency planning, homeland security and ocean jurisdictional mapping. In order to compile and maintain its ENCs and nautical charts, NOAA analyzes extensive data sets including NOAA hydrographic surveys; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers surveys, drawings, and permits; U.S. Coast Guard Local Notices to Mariners; and National Imagery and Mapping Agency Notices to Mariners. NOAA ENCs are updated monthly.

NOAA National Ocean Service is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’ s coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats, and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through research to better understand weather and climate-related events and to manage wisely the nation's coastal and marine resources.

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