Admiralty stops printing paper nautical charts after 222 years

A popular brand, GEONAV, displays the automatic warning: “The electronic chart is an aid to navigation intended to facilitate the use of authorized government charts, not to replace them.”

The digital shift raises the possibility that future navigators will not have paper support to rely on in the event of failure of their electronic navigation systems.

It also raises questions about teaching navigation skills, like learning to plot a course, which is best done with a physical map.

Mr Wallhead added that students would likely continue to learn with the paper maps, but these would not be UKHO products.

The Admiralty’s Hydrographic Department initially produced charts for Royal Navy use only, but in 1821 began to make them commercially available.

It is believed that around 14,000 electronic navigational charts are currently available in the Admiralty’s portfolio.

Updating maps is a laborious process

Updating the catalog of paper charts to reflect new hazards and changes in coastal structures is a laborious and expensive process and the UKHO, a direct descendant of the old Admiralty, which became part of the Ministry of Defense in 1964, has done so less assiduously in recent years.

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