Electronic Charts

Electronic Navigation Charts (ENC)

We are pleased to be able to offer world coverage of ENC in IHO compliant S57 format with S63 encryption.

For coverage of Australian (including Papua New Guinea) waters, we recommend the AusENC packs. These packs contain numerous cells, grouped into Port, Coastal and Voyager packs; depending on how much coverage you require. There is also the Australia pack - giving you full coverage.

For coverage outside those areas covered by AusENC, we are able to supply through the UKHO Admiralty distribution scheme.
Australian ENC

The Australian Hydrographic Office is responsible for the production of all ENC within Australian waters (including Papua New Guinean waters under a memorandum of understanding). There are +1000 electronic charts, of various "user categories" (ie: scale), within the Australian area of responsibility.

It is very important to note that regardless of who delivers the end product package; the ENC will always be the same data from the Australian production. Unlike paper charts, there are no reproductions of ENCs.
What is an ENC?

An Electronic Navigation Chart (ENC) is a vector based data set, published by Governments, generally in addition to the production of paper charts. They are produced in an approved International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) format (S57) and then encrypted to ensure validity (S63).

Most importantly to the mariner; ENC, when combined with an approved charting display system, are approved by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) as a replacement to paper charts in SOLAS class vessels.

For commercial vessels which are non-SOLAS; ENC are approved under the Australian National Standards for Commercial Vessels (NSCV) for use as a replacement to paper charts. Additional requirements must be met, such as having an independent backup system, or redundancy.
What software & equipment can read ENC?

ENC are formatted using S57, which is a certain file structure. ENC have an additional layer of protection, which is an encryption system in S63 format. S63 is again a standard which has been internationally agreed upon and all official ENC use this system.

Therefore, in order to use official ENC, your software must be capable of reading S57 format and handling S63 encryption.

We recommend that you shop around for the right piece of software, as they have vastly different functions and price ranges. As a starting point you can try: Polar Navy (PC based), MacENC (for Mac's), SEAiq (iPad / iPhone), or OpenCPN (requires an S63 add on).

If you are unsure about your software's capacity to read S63, we recommend you contact your manufacturer or contact us and we will put you in touch with a local service agent.
Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS)

ENC were primarily developed to support international shipping; with a focus on improving safety. ENC contribute as part of a ship's ECDIS.

An ECDIS is much more than just a computer screen displaying a chart and GPS position. ECDIS combine type-approved hardware and software, authorised (and up to date) data, and a multitude of sensor inputs (echo sounder, speed, etc.) which provides a powerful decision making tool.

ECDIS are generally installed on large commercial ships, or those carrying passengers or dangerous goods. The average yacht, coastal trader or trawler / fishing vessel, is not yet obliged to have an ECDIS, and instead opt for an ECS. The cost of ECDIS is also quite high.
Other forms of Electronic Charts & Chart Systems

There are many products on the market, which may appear to be, or contain, ENC. It is extremely important to know exactly what type of electronic chart you are buying as they differ greatly in quality, accuracy and precision.

The complexity and cost of ECDIS generally results in smaller operators purchasing a Electronic Chart System (ECS). The term "ECS" covers any electronic system which displays charts or navigation information, which is not an approved ECDIS.

While most ECS aren't as refined as an ECDIS, they can still provide good situational awareness to the operator, providing their limitations are known.

The main trouble with ECS comes from the lack of agreed standards of production or the versions of the charts that they use. Because of this, most ECSs are NOT recognised as an alternative to paper charts.

The charts used in generic ECSs ,come in a variety of forms. Charts can be raster (pictures of the paper chart), or commercially produced versions with simple line drawings of contours, spot depths, etc. These can be similar in appearance to a paper chart or ENC, or follow a completely different line of symbology. Any electronic "chart" which is not an ENC is unlikely to be considered "fit for navigation". A quick check of the fine print in most ECS manuals will alert you to this fact. It may be termed differently, but the legal position generally is that an ECS is for "general situational awareness", "may contain errors", "no liability accepted".

In contrast, ENC are updated regularly, satisfy Chapter V of the SOLAS Convention as amended in 2002 and promulgated for Australia under AMSA Marine Orders Part 21, Order 6 of 2003 as nautical charts fit for carriage.

We do not deal in any thing but official charts, and that includes only supplying official electronic charts. For the equivalent price of a propriety, non compliant ECS, we can set you up with a high end commercial software and most importantly official charts.
Need more Information

We strongly urge you to speak to a professional chart agent before you make any investment in electronic navigational aids. You may be legally required to carry a paper chart, along with other official products, and we would like to make sure you have all the facts.

The Cairns Chart & Maps is always available to assist you in making the right decisions on your navigational requirements.

Feel free to contact us to discuss any navigation questions you may have. We particularly encourage you to contact us if you plan to purchase an electronic chart system.