In arguably the most graphic example of shipping’s headlong rush to digitalise, the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) yesterday announced plans to ditch the printing of its famous Admiralty charts. The state-run UKHO will transition to a fully digital chart portfolio by the end of 2026.
Peter Sparkes, chief executive of the UKHO, said: “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. 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.”
UKHO said the move to digital navigation solutions has been accompanied by a rapid decline in demand for paper charts, driven by the SOLAS-mandated transition to ECDIS and the wider benefits of digital solutions.
“Shipping is moving quickly towards a future underpinned by digital innovations, enhanced satellite connectivity at sea and optimised data solutions, supporting the next generation of navigation,” said Sparkes.
Admiralty charts have been produced by UKHO for over 200 years. Today, their products are used by over 90% of ships trading internationally.