NOAA 2004-002
Contact: Glenda Powell
NOAA News Releases 2004
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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 one million Internet downloads. The ENC program supports the Bush administration’s “E-Government” initiative to make information easily accessible to the public. Managed by NOAA National Ocean Service’s Office of Coast Survey, ENC provides 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 initiative has made electronic navigational charts more readily available to more Americans than ever before, improving maritime safety and commerce.”

NOAA distributed provisional ENCs via the Internet in July 2001 for testing and evaluation by the public. In July 2003, the provisional designation was removed and NOAA ENCs were accepted as official nautical charts. The charts are free to the public and easily accessible for download on the Office of Coast Survey Web site:

There are currently 364 ENCs available for download and new ENCs are posted as they are completed. The initial focus of the ENC program was to provide chart coverage of the nation's 40 major commercial port areas; however, smaller scale coastal coverage is now becoming available.

Captain Rogers Parsons, director of the Office of Coast Survey said, “NOAA ENCs provide the nation with timely charting information for safe and efficient navigation.” “ENCs are the data that fuel Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems as well as other Electronic Charting Systems. ENC data, integrated with GPS positioning, provide the mariner with a powerful new navigation tool.”

NOAA ENCs support sectors of the maritime community 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, ENCs assist mariners in avoiding groundings and collisions with fixed objects.

NOAA ENCs can also be used to support many other applications including fish habitat mapping, coastal zone management, emergency planning, homeland security and ocean jurisdictional mapping. ENCs and nautical charts are updated using data from numerous sources including NOAA hydrographic surveys; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers surveys, drawings, and permits; U.S. Coast Guard Local Notices to Mariners; and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (formerly the 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.

On the Web:


NOAA National Ocean Service:

Office of Coast Survey:

NOAA Electronic Nautical Charts: