According to a notice published in the Federal Register on Nov. 15, 2019, NOAA has announced plans to phase out the production of paper nautical charts within five years. Charts will then be an electronic product that voyagers can download. If voyagers want charts on paper, they’ll have to print them on their own by using NOAA’s Custom Chart prototype system, or via what NOAA calls “third-party commercial data providers” as yet unspecified.
NOAA is accepting comments on this effort via its online ASSIST feedback tool (nauticalcharts.noaa.gov/customer-service/assist). Comments will only be accepted, however, until Feb. 1, 2020.
NOAA states that commercial users and recreational users have already transitioned to primarily using electronic charts, and thus paper charts are no longer needed.
The following paper chart products will be no longer be produced:
- Print-on-demand (POD) paper nautical charts
- Full-size chart PDFs
- NOAA raster navigational charts (NOAA RNC)
- BookletChart PDFs
- NOAA RNC tile service
- Online RNC viewer
Cancellation will start in mid- to late 2020 and be complete by Jan. 2025.
The era of the pencil, the parallel rules and the chart unrolled across the nav station will soon pass into nautical history. Unless you print them yourself!