July 26, 2005
Navy moves towards paperless navigation
The U.S. Navy today unveiled plans for a major transformation in military 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 Navy's plans were presented at a media briefing and demonstration cruise in Washington, D.C., hosted by Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC).
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 (DNC), produced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
The Navigator of the Navy, Rear Adm. Steven Tomaszeski, said that the Navy has launched an ambitious initiative to equip the entire fleet of surface ships and submarines with ECDIS-N 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.
"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 (NGA) in creating Digital Nautical Charts (DNC). 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.''
According to NGA, DNC provides electronic combat support, situational awareness and marine navigation that is "far superior to traditional paper charts. More than 5,000 worldwide paper charts are now contained within 29 CD-ROMs, which can be updated quickly via electronic patches from the NGA web site. It is the only worldwide digital nautical chart in existence today."
"The ECDIS-N technology represents an extraordinary leap forward for the U.S. Navy," says the Deputy Navigator of the Navy, Capt. Zdenka Willis. "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.''
John DeMaso, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Naval and Marine Systems Division, which includes Sperry Marine, said, "The Voyage Management System is the only system that has been certified to meet the ECDIS-N standard. Sperry Marine's Voyage Management System-based equipment has already been installed on over 150 U.S. Navy surface ships and submarines, all of which will be upgraded to conform to ECDIS-N standards.''
Sperry Marine's commercial version of the Voyage Management System has been type approved by national maritime authorities and classification societies to meet the International Maritime Organization ECDIS specifications