19 June 2001


22 February 2005

Content and links below have been superseded. See




NIMA Digital Nautical Chart

The Digital Nautical Chart is produced by the National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) and is an unclassified, vector-based digital database containing maritime significant features essential for safe marine navigation.  Initial data collection of the database is from a portfolio of approximately 5,000 nautical charts that will ultimately provide global marine navigation between 84� North latitude and 81� South latitude and support a variety of Geographic Information System applications.

NIMA has produced the DNC to support worldwide navigation requirements of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard. NIMA also intends to offer DNC for public release through commercial distributors (NIMA does not intend to distribute DNC to other than U.S. government agencies and other governments having data exchange agreements with NIMA). Public release of DNC of foreign areas, where DNC source data is subject to foreign copyright restrictions, must be contingent on agreement of the producer nation. Because of the need for these negotiations, public access to DNC will be a gradual process extending over the next few years. 

Full Utility Navigation Demonstration (FUND ) Version 2.5



DNC is a vector database of nautical features consisting of points, lines, and polygons.  These features have been collected individually and attributed so as to support use by Geographic Information Systems and other scientific applications. DNC data requires system application software such as "direct read" software, which provides for display without data manipulation, from commercial DNC display system developers or through use of NIMA�s Full Utility Navigation Demonstration (FUND), developed in cooperation with the Navy, to demonstrate the display of standard information generated from NIMA�s folio of paper charts. An important design feature of DNC is that it is a System Electronic Navigational Chart (SENC), i.e., when used with direct read software there is no manipulation or transformation of the data originating from NIMA.

The U.S. Navy, with NIMA�s cooperation, has recently established a policy for its transition from paper to electronic chart navigation using DNC. The U.S. Navy has mandated that the DNC database comply with the content and functionality of standards and specifications of the International Maritime Organizations (IMO) and International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) for an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). NIMA has adopted the IHO ECDIS symbology and has begun working with U.S. Navy system developers to ensure DNC data meets the performance standards of U.S. Navy bridge systems (ECDIS-N).  Only the underlying data transfer format differs from that specified for ECDIS. As this is transparent to the user, NIMA is seeking equivalency to the paper chart through the U.S. Coast Guard and the International Hydrographic Organization.

The DNC data is formatted for direct manipulation by military systems to provide important data and systems interoperability. When interfaced with appropriate navigation systems, DNC will ultimately replace the paper chart for safe navigation by ships of the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Coast Guard. In the near future, similar application of DNC of U.S. waters is envisioned for civil ships employing commercial systems. The Department of Defense has determined that the DNC database shall be made available for public use. NIMA is now evaluating its options for doing so and plans to implement availability perhaps through partnerships with the private sector or other means. It is planned that public sale of NIMA�s data on CD-ROM will occur in phases after updating of regions within the database become available. Updating of the U.S. waters is projected to begin at the end of 1999. The combination of DNC with the digital updating provided through NIMA will be a significant advancement for the safety of marine navigation worldwide and the protection of the environment. NIMA plans to complete initial DNC coverage by the end of 1999 and worldwide DNC coverage by the year 2002, which will include additional data in the U.S. Great Lakes to support the U.S. Coast Guard.


Questions concerning the Digital Nautical Chart (DNC�) and the Full Utility Navigation Demonstration (FUND) should be referred to:

National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA)
Office of Congressional and Public Liason
4600 Sangamore Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20816-5003