UKHO extends timetable for paper chart withdrawal

The RYA welcomes today’s announcement by UKHO concerning its extension of the timeframe over which it will cease production of paper charts.

In July last year, the UKHO announced its intention to withdraw from the production of paper charts. Following consultations with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and national user groups, the UKHO had set a target date of late 2026 to complete the process.

This timeframe was subject to the development of digital solutions for those remaining users of ADMIRALTY Standard Nautical Charts (SNCs) and Thematic Charts, ensuring that they have viable, official alternatives, as well as meeting the technical and regulatory steps required to achieve this.

Stakeholder engagement

The UKHO also made a commitment to consult closely and more widely with UK and international stakeholders on this proposal and to listen to their feedback, stating that ‘it would leave no one behind’. Since then, the UKHO has engaged with many groups and organisations including distributors, defence customers, commercial and leisure users, international regulatory authorities, and colleagues in the global hydrographic community.

These conversations have highlighted a number of important transnational and regulatory factors that need further consideration. It has become clear that more time is required to address the needs of those specific users who do not yet have viable alternatives to paper chart products, so the UKHO will continue to provide a paper chart service until at least 2030.

Peter Sparkes, UKHO Chief Executive, said: “As we further develop digital navigation solutions, our long-term intention to withdraw from paper chart production remains unchanged and we will continue to withdraw elements of our chart portfolio over the coming period, on a case-by-case basis. However, having listened to the feedback we have received and in light of the consequential impact of the international technical and regulatory steps required to develop digital alternatives, we will be extending the overall timetable for this process.

“Please be assured that the elements of our paper chart portfolio necessary to support safe navigation for our customers will be maintained throughout this transitional period as we increase our focus on digital navigation products and services.

“Listening and responding to our customers and partners is at the core of our approach and we are committed to ensuring no party is left behind in the digital transition. We will be working with our international colleagues and partners, including through the IMO and the IHO, to move forward at an appropriate pace together.”

Seeking digital solutions 

Sara Sutcliffe MBE, RYA Chief Executive, added: “The RYA supports the intention to make greater use of modern digital technology in navigation. However, it is absolutely essential that any move towards further reliance on digital technology is not rushed. 

“Provision must be made for all those reliant on UKHO navigational resources to have the necessary charts and equipment to be able to navigate safely during this transition period. This is particularly true for those within both the leisure and small commercial vessel sectors.

“We look forward to continuing to work together with UKHO and our other partners and stakeholders to ensure that appropriate solutions are identified and made available prior to the eventual withdrawal of paper charts.”

The UKHO’s guiding principle is the provision of trusted, official ADMIRALTY navigation solutions that support the safety of life at sea. It is clear that the future of navigation is digital, as shown by the rapidly declining demand for paper products. 

Digital solutions offer significant safety and operational advantages to mariners, including the potential for near real-time updates, which greatly improve the accuracy of navigation and ease of use. These benefits will be further enhanced as we bring forward the next generation of navigation solutions, underpinned by the S-100 data standards.

Visit the UKHO website for a list of frequently asked questions regarding the withdrawal from paper chart production.

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