Paper charts scrapped for Royal Navy after 225 years

The CEO of the UK Hydrographic Office told Forces News the charts will become digital to reflect mariners' needs.

After more than 200 years, the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) is phasing out its paper charts.

At the time the UKHO was set up, the Royal Navy was losing more ships to navigational problems than enemy action  – with the office providing paper charts for situational awareness.

UKHO CEO Rear Admiral (Ret'd) Peter Sparkes told Forces News mariners "need to know where they are, not where they were – which is what a paper chart tells you".

"None of us have paper charts in our cars anymore, none of us have a road atlas, so what we're reflecting is what our users need.

"And our users need that precision navigation provided by digital products."

The UKHO is constantly putting out information for mariners and its Chief Data Officer says the digital charts will be updated digitally with any changes in information.

Wing Commander (Ret'd) Dave Tomaney said this information can then be downloaded by those who need it and it is "automatically created on the chart that they already have on their bridge".

He added the goal is to reduce the amount of time between when something happens and the point a mariner is able to know about it.

"We want to move that from weeks and days to hours and minutes."

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