A member of the Royal Navy pictured with a paper chart DATE UNKNONW CREDIT MOD.jpg
(Picture: MOD).
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Could the era of paper charts be over soon?

The UKHO has set out a transition plan for a fully digital chart portfolio.

A member of the Royal Navy pictured with a paper chart DATE UNKNONW CREDIT MOD.jpg
(Picture: MOD).

The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has announced it intends to withdraw from global paper chart production by late 2026.

The UKHO said it will develop "viable, official digital alternatives for sectors still using paper chart products".

The withdrawal of paper charts from production will be phased over a number of years.

"The decision to commence the process of withdrawing from paper chart production will allow us to increase our focus on advanced digital services that meet the needs of today's seafarers," UKHO chief executive Peter Sparkes said.

The move to digital navigation solutions has been accompanied by a rapid decline in demand for paper charts, he explained.

He added that the UKHO's core purpose remains "the safety of shipping operations" and the delivery of "the best possible navigation solutions".

"Whether for the Royal Navy, commercial vessels or other ocean users, our focus is on developing and delivering ADMIRALTY digital services that promote safe, secure and thriving oceans," Mr Sparkes said.

Responding to the announcement, the Minister of State at the UK Government's Ministry of Defence (MOD) said one of the MOD's priorities is to "make shipping as safe as possible".

"To achieve this, the industry must continue transitioning to digital tools and technology that share data almost instantly from ship-to-ship or ship-to-shore," Baroness Goldie added.