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Ice Navigation in Canadian Waters
Annex C - Guidance on the Acceptance of Digital Nautical Publications in Canada

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Annex C - Guidance on the Acceptance of Digital Nautical Publications in Canada

The Charts and Nautical Publication Regulations, 1995 (CNPR) require the carriage and use of several nautical publications. Increasingly, vessels are electing to carry required publications in electronic form, if available, in lieu of hard copies. Many nautical publications in Canada are now available in electronic form and can be downloaded from the internet in PDF. Some vessels may carry publications in electronic form issued by another Administration (i.e., Admiralty Digital Publications) as per CNPR subsection 6(3).

IMO circular entitled IMO requirements on carriage of publications on board ships (MSC-MEPC.2/Circ.2) allows electronic publications provided they have been issued by the IMO, an Administration or an organization authorized by an Administration. This ensures correctness and safeguard against illegal copying. The electronic document should also “be treated in accordance with the document control procedures in the ship's SMS including procedures for timely update.” However, as an exception, IMO does require the International Code of Signals and the IAMSAR Manual Volume III to be always available in hard copy to ensure accessibility and portability for emergency use.

Under SOLAS, charts and nautical publications in electronic form can be used to meet SOLAS V carriage requirements provided suitable back-up arrangements are in place. As such, electronic nautical publications must meet the same requirements as the hard copies:

  • For the area to be navigated must have onboard and use the most recent editions;
  • Must be published or issued by the appropriate authority as specified;
  • Must be correct and up-to-date, based on information that is contained in the Notices to Mariners, Notices to Shipping or radio navigational warnings.

The following guidance should be taken into account when digital nautical publications are used:

  • The main (primary) system must be located on the bridge and should be conveniently situated close to either the planning or voyage monitoring stations;
  • To ensure continuity of operation it is important that the computer hardware used is highly reliable;
  • The system must not interfere in any way with the operation of other bridge systems;
  • Screen size, resolution and brightness should be chosen to ensure a clear display of navigational information in all ambient light conditions;
  • The primary system must be available at all times during the voyage and therefore must have an emergency source of power;
  • Appropriate back-up is needed to ensure continuous availability of data in the event of computer system failure. Acceptable back-up arrangements would include a complete duplicate system with an independent power supply (i.e., a 2nd computer). While the back-up does not necessarily need to be kept on the navigation bridge, it should be possible to readily transfer the duplicate system, or printed hard copies, to the bridge.
  • Updates should be applied to both the primary and back-up system as soon as practical. When in port, they should be applied prior to passage planning and commencement of the voyage.
  • As the publications must be on board, simply being able to access the publications through the internet would not be considered on board and therefore not acceptable. However, hard copies printed from official internet sources would be acceptable.

Transport Canada Marine Safety Inspectors must be able to readily verify:

  • the publication has been published, or issued, by the appropriate authority,
  • the publication is complete for the area to be navigated,
  • the update status (i.e., latest edition, corrected and up-to-date as published and amended by the issuing authority).
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