NAVTOR Calls on Hydrographic Offices to Support Onshore ENC Roll Out

Paul Elgar, NAVTOR - leading the way for onshore ENCs

Published May 5, 2024 10:31 AM by The Maritime Executive


NAVTOR is calling on hydrographic offices and other industry stakeholders to help urgently “bridge the divide” between vessels and management teams with the widescale roll-out of onshore ENCs.

Without a joined-up, global approach to the issue, the Norwegian maritime technology company says important development areas such as autonomous shipping, route planning, optimisation, and effective emergency response measures could be held back. NAVTOR’s Paul Elgar describes the current state of play as “simply not good enough in an age of smarter shipping, efficiency and crucial sustainability goals.”

The need for change
He explains: “At present, traditional pricing structures and usage restrictions mean that hydrographic offices don’t differentiate between vessels and offices. So, if you’re a forward-thinking shipowner that wants to enhance operations by allowing onshore staff to access the same charts as your vessel teams you’re looking at an additional bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars for global coverage.”

That, he underlines, is “crazy in these times” leading shipping companies to resort to unofficial charts onshore and even, in some scenarios, applications such as Google Maps to monitor vessels, plan and even co-ordinate emergency response action.

“Obviously that’s sub-optimal,” he stresses. “To get the best results – whether we’re talking about fleet planning and performance, safety, empowering new digital technology (such as AI), or regulatory compliance – shipping companies need to have seamless access to the same charts as crews. As more and more tasks migrate from ships to shore this issue is only compounding. We need to see some positive action.”

Changing course
NAVTOR’s campaigning approach has kick-started change, Elgar says, but more needs to be done.

NAVTOR has been working alongside hydrographic offices and Regional ENC Coordination Centres (RENCs) for the last two years to convince key parties of the need for a new approach. RENC IC-ENC has been a close collaboration partner, raising the issue with the 50 Hydrographic Office members it represents. The result being that their ENCs are now offered to IC-ENC resellers at just 10% of the standard price.

However, Elgar notes talks with Primar RENC have been more “mixed”, although he believes they will “change for the better” soon.

Unique development
“To get global coverage for their teams shipping companies need universal access to charts. That means the offices that have not joined this movement – such as Japan, South Korea, India and China – need to recognise the situation and get onboard with change. We hope they’ll see this and make the right decision to serve the industry, and soon!”

NAVTOR, which provides e-Navigation and smart shipping solutions to over 18,000 vessels in the world fleet, has responded to customer demand by releasing the new offering ENC Online. This unique service delivers worldwide ENCs to internet-connected shoreside systems at competitive prices, allowing fleet and vessel management teams to integrate ENCs directly into applications where nautical charts can unlock smart shipping benefits.

Realising potential
“This is the first step on a longer journey,” Elgar concludes. “The next will come later this year with NAVTOR’s ENC Onshore, allowing even non-internet connected onshore systems to utilise the very latest digital charts. That will see whole organisations, both on vessels and on shore, working as one with the very latest ENC charts.

“However, to really unlock the full potential of this integrated way of working, modern owners and operators need the remaining hydrographic offices and RENCs to see why official onshore ENCs are not a luxury item, but rather an absolute smart shipping necessity. Greater uptake will boost their revenues as well, so it really is a win-win here.”

NAVTOR is the world’s largest distributor of ENCs and related e-Navigation products. The company, which merged with Voyager Worldwide in 2023, is also a market leader in performance monitoring, management and optimisation, digital logbooks, and a range of smart shipping innovations. 

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