Keeping charts up to date

The International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires that, “All ships should carry adequate and up-to-date charts, sailing directions, lists of lights, notices to mariners, tide tables, and all other nautical publications necessary for the intended voyage”.

Yet, from time to time, the Club receives a report from a ship inspector that the charts or other nautical publications on an entered ship are out of date. Two incidents reviews recently by the Club emphasise why compliance with the requirement is imperative.

In the first case, a telecommunications company alleged that a submarine cable has been damaged by a ship’s anchor.

The first assumption was that, if the anchor has contacted the cable, then it must have been able to recover the anchor in due time. However, the Club-appinted surveyor quickly established that the ship had, in fact, anchored directly over the cable but that the bridge team has been completely unaware of the hazard beneath them. The surveyor identified that the ship has used an old edition of the chart, which predated the laying of the cable. Apparently, on preparing the passage plan, the second officer has not checked that he had the current edition of the chart.

In the second case, the investigation into the circumstances in which a ship suffered damade as it struck a hazardous wreck confirmed that the current edition of the chart was in use but that it had not been issued some three years previously.

The UK Hydrographic Office publishes ‘How to keep your Admiralty Charts Up-to-Date’, which is a recommended read for ships using British Admiralty Charts.

Our thanks to The London P&I Club for permission to use this article.

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