The UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has signalled the beginning of the end of the era of paper in maritime with an announcement that it plans to stop global paper chart production by late 2026, to instead focus on digital navigation products and services.
Plans to withdraw its portfolio of ADMIRALTY Standard Nautical Charts (SNCs) and Thematic Charts are a response to more users primarily using digital products for navigation, the UKHO says, noting the safety benefit of navigating with charts that can be updated in near real-time over the air.
The phased withdrawal of paper charts from production will take place over the next few years and is anticipated to conclude in late 2026. In parallel, UKHO aims to develop official digital alternatives for sectors still using paper chart products.
“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,” said Peter Sparkes, Chief Executive of the UKHO.
“As we look to the future, our core purpose remains the safety of shipping operations and delivering the best possible navigation solutions to achieve that. 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.”
“We understand the significance of this announcement, given the distinguished history of the UKHO’s paper chart production and the trust that mariners have placed in ADMIRALTY charts over the generations. We will support users of SNCs during the withdrawal of our paper chart portfolio and work with our distributors to help users switch to digital alternatives between now and our planned date of 2026.”