U.S. Navy Will Become A Paperless Navigation Fleet

The U.S. Navy unveiled plans for a major transformation in marine navigation over the next few years, in which traditional paper nautical charts will be replaced with advanced, interactive, electronic navigation systems throughout the fleet.

The Navigator of the Navy, Rear Admiral Steven Tomaszeski, said that the Navy has launched an ambitious initiative to equip the entire fleet of surface ships and submarines with ECDIS-N, The Electronic Chart Display and Information System -- Navy, by the end of 2009. Once the ships complete their certification process with the new equipment, they would no longer rely on traditional paper nautical charts and manual plotting of a ship’s position.

The Navy passed an important milestone in May, when the Aegis guided-missile cruiser “USS Cape St. George” (CG 71) became the first ship to be authorized to navigate with ECDIS-N, following an extensive certification process to ensure it met the Navy’s requirements for safe navigation. Also in May, an ECDIS-N system was approved for Los Angeles class submarines, and should be certified soon.

The Electronic Chart Display and Information System -- Navy (ECDIS-N) is based on the Voyage Management System software programs developed by Northrop Grumman’s Sperry Marine business unit, and operates with Digital Nautical Charts(c), a global database of digital charts produced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.

“This historic achievement was made possible by the cooperative efforts of the Chief of Naval Operations staff, the Program Executive Offices for Ships and Integrated Warfare Systems, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, the Operational Test and Evaluation Force and the dedicated professionals of Sperry Marine,” said Tomaszeski. “Of particular note is the contribution of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in creating Digital Nautical Charts. The digital charts are the foundation of ECDIS-N, and without the Agency’s efforts to convert more than 5,000 paper charts into a seamless database, we would not be standing here today.”

The Deputy Navigator of the Navy, Capt. Zdenka Willis, added: “The ECDIS-N technology represents an extraordinary leap forward for the U.S. Navy. For centuries, the state of the art in marine navigation was defined by manual plotting of a ship’s estimated position on a paper chart by projecting its course and speed from the last known location. With ECDIS-N, mariners can see their ship’s actual real-time precise position and movement superimposed on a highly accurate electronic chart display. The result is improved safety at sea and enhanced situational awareness for the ship’s bridge watchstanders.”