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First official electronic chart in service

(China Daily)

16:05, August 26, 2011

BEIJING - Ships sailing in Chinese waters can now say goodbye to paper charts as an electronic chart was officially released by the navy on Thursday.

The navigation guarantee department of the Chinese Navy Headquarters, China's official hydrographic surveying and mapping organization, announced during a news briefing in Beijing that China's new electronic navigation chart is available for purchase and download by registered Internet users.

The electronic navigation chart includes 400 maps of Chinese seas in different regions, an officer surnamed Yuan from the navigation guarantee department, told China Daily on Thursday.

The chart, which follows international standards, includes detailed information about all China's territorial waters, including submerged reefs, harbor infrastructure and tide information.

"It's the first Chinese electronic navigation chart that meets international standards," Cao Jinping, an officer of the publicity department of the navy, told China Daily on Thursday.

"Some ships are using substandard electronic charts, or even pirated charts, which could put them at risk," Cao said.

"It also covers all the waters of China," Cao added.

On June 14, the Maritime Safety Administration announced an electronic chart of Chinese inland rivers and coastal areas free of charge to ship owners and GPS manufacturers.

Yin Hongming, captain of the Luojia Mount, said that the electronic navigation chart will be very useful.

"Previously, I had to go to the chart room every half an hour to check my position, but now I can see my position on the electronic navigation chart," Yin said. "After installing the electronic chart, I can make sure that I sail in my own channel and avoid colliding with other ships."

Li Pengcheng, head of the navigation guarantee department, said that the electronic chart can be embedded into GPS navigation terminals and provides real-time guidance for vessels.

The data of the electronic chart will be updated each week and will be available by Internet download or satellite transmission.The electronic chart is also expected to be available for cell phones in the future, Li said.

Zhang Jixian, president of the Chinese Academy of Surveying and Mapping, told China Daily on Thursday that apart from navigation, the electronic chart, which can pinpoint the position of vessels, will also be useful for rescue work.

Each map costs $15 for both domestic and overseas users, including a one-year updating service. Users will enjoy a 50 percent discount from the second year, Yuan said.

Beijing Situo Ocean Information Technology Co (Situo), a private company in Zhongguancun, Beijing, will be the sales company.

Zhou Shufeng, board chairman of Situo, said that the electronic navigation chart will replace paper charts and become the main tool for vessels in the future.

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