What is an Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC)?

Electronic Navigation represents the most dramatic change in the current development of sailing. Since the beginning of the century, navigation relied heavily on paper-based charts. Planning, executing, and observing the progress of a trip consumed the majority times the energy of an entire crew. But, the advent of digital navigational devices made a lot of the work easier and transformed the process of travel across the ocean. In the end, these Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) that an Electronic Chart and Display System (ECDIS) relies on have mostly replaced traditional paper charts.

As time passes professionals in the field of navigation have become familiar with these devices. It’s just a few years that law enforcement officials have mandated amateur sailors and small boats to utilize ECDIS or ENCs. In addition, new sailors also have to understand the meaning of an ENC.

What is an Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC)?

Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) which are also referred to as chart vectors comprise information sets that can be used to aid in all forms of navigation. In the beginning, commercial vessels of large size used them to ensure SOLAS conformity, efficiency, and safety advantages. In the current nautical landscape, smaller vessels as well as recreational sailors utilize ENCs in Electronic Chart System (ECS) software. ENCs are by far the most common kind of charts an ECDIS is based on, however, there are other types like charts using raster technology.

In addition as a complement to ECDIS hardware in addition to ECDIS hardware, an ENC can provide a variety of features for automation and information. They include, but are not restricted to:

  • Possible dangers
  • Routes
  • Maritime limits
  • Navigation aids
  • Depths
  • The nature of the seabed
  • Elevations
  • Specifications and configurations of the coastline

Vector charts allow sailors to develop custom-designed displays such as depth alerts and others using the ECDIS. Users can get more information by collapsing components and also access more in-depth information on an area by clicking the. These high-quality features help to make navigation a less complicated and less strenuous task. This is why electronic charts for navigation are essential to modern sailors.

Types of ENCs

ENCs are able to meet certain standards and requirements and they always use an associated ECDIS. There are however numerous kinds of ECDIS systems. Some are specifically designed for ocean travel, while some are designed for inshore waters or for other niche needs.


Inland Electronic Navigational Charts (IENCs) are specifically designed ENCs specifically designed for navigable inland waterways (rivers canals, lakes, and many more). These ENCs include specific extensions that play a crucial purpose in relation to brown water transit. They are designed to meet specific river navigation requirements, which aren’t relevant to maritime ENCs like notice marks.

They use a specialized Inland Electronic Chart Display and Information System (Inland ECDIS). Like other ENCs, their regulatory framework is the IHO publication S-57. It is the Inland ENC Harmonization Group (IEHG) assists in the development of additional international standards for this kind of ENCs.


Port Electronic Navigational Charts (PENCs) are the best device for operations that require large-scale maps (1:2000 or higher). These charts offer the most precise topographic information.

The PENCs concept was first introduced in the year 2009. The specification for the product was developed within the framework of the efforts project was WP 1.3 PortECDIS, a project led by the Hamburg Port Authority. Hamburg Port Authority.


Bathymetric Electronic Navigational Charts (bENCs) is a supplement that vessels can utilize when paired in conjunction with ENC or an IENC. In contrast to PENCs, they do not include all the information that ENCs and IENCs offer. bENCs have their origins in SevenCs who came up with the concept fifteen years ago. The company took the specifications of the IHO ENC Product Specification. IHO ENC Product Specification.

IHO Publication S-557 sets out the appropriate requirements for bENCs, which are an extension of regular ENCs. The IEHG had in mind the bENC Inland alternative in IECDIS Standard 2.4.

These charts are extremely dense bathymetric information. They include depth contours, soundings that are selected along with depth areas, as well as related information about quality. The data comes from hydrographic-survey data. This provides an automated process of process, which increases the cost and accessibility. The most common use for bENCs is for portable pilot systems, in which the depth of data they provide is very beneficial.

Raster Charts

It’s possible to acquire ENCs that cover the entire voyage. In these instances, you may need to use Raster Charts. They are simpler digital tools. They comprise scanned versions of chart paper you can store electronically. Official ENCs include a broad array of ECDIS features and are much more than just digitalized charts.

In contrast, Raster Charts don’t have additional features. They aren’t able to expand or eliminate specific information elements as well as there aren’t built-in alarms or depth functions. The use of Raster Chart Raster Chart more or less mimics the process of loading and looking at the image on an electronic device. With the charts, you are able to continuously visualize the chart and text. Zooming in and out will affect all the parts on the graph. In the same way, if it is rotated, it can rotate your text to the images.

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