WASHINGTON, D.C., 27 July 2005. Leaders of the U.S. Navy today unveiled plans for a transformation in military marine navigation over the next few years, in which traditional paper nautical charts will be replaced with advanced, interactive, electronic navigation systems.
They described the plan during a demonstration cruise in Washington, D.C., hosted by Northrop Grumman Corp., which developed the new-generation shipboard navigation equipment for the Navy.
The Electronic Chart Display and Information System - Navy (ECDIS-N) is based on the Voyage Management System software programs developed by Northrop Grumman's Sperry Marine business unit, and operates with Digital Nautical Charts, a global database of digital charts produced by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency.
The Navigator of the Navy, Rear Adm. Steven Tomaszeski, said that the Navy has launched an ambitious initiative to equip the entire fleet of surface ships and submarines with ECDIS-N by the end of 2009. Once the ships complete their certification process with the new equipment, they would no longer rely on traditional paper nautical charts and manual plotting of a ship's position.
The Navy passed an important milestone in May, when the Aegis guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71) became the first ship to be authorized to navigate with ECDIS-N, following an extensive certification process to ensure it met the Navy's requirements for safe navigation. Also in May, an ECDIS-N system was approved for Los Angeles class submarines, and should be certified soon.
"This historic achievement was made possible by the cooperative efforts of the Chief of Naval Operations staff, the Program Executive Offices for Ships and Integrated Warfare Systems, the Naval Surface Warfare Center, the Operational Test and Evaluation Force and the dedicated professionals of Sperry Marine," said Tomaszeski. "Of particular note is the contribution of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency in creating Digital Nautical Charts. The digital charts are the foundation of ECDIS-N, and without the Agency's efforts to convert more than 5,000 paper charts into a seamless database, we would not be standing here today."
The Deputy Navigator of the Navy, Capt. Zdenka Willis, added: "The ECDIS-N technology represents an extraordinary leap forward for the U.S. Navy. For centuries, the state of the art in marine navigation was defined by manual plotting of a ship's estimated position on a paper chart by projecting its course and speed from the last known location. With ECDIS-N, mariners can see their ship's actual real-time precise position and movement superimposed on a highly accurate electronic chart display. The result is improved safety at sea and enhanced situational awareness for the ship's bridge watchstanders."
John DeMaso, vice president and general manager of Northrop Grumman's Naval and Marine Systems Division, which includes Sperry Marine, said, "The Voyage Management System is the only system that has been certified to meet the ECDIS-N standard. Sperry Marine's Voyage Management System-based equipment has already been installed on over 150 U.S. Navy surface ships and submarines, all of which will be upgraded to conform to ECDIS-N standards."
DeMaso noted that similar technology is also used on commercial ships, such as tankers, container ships and cruise liners. Sperry Marine's commercial version of the Voyage Management System has been type approved by national maritime authorities and classification societies to meet the International Maritime Organization ECDIS specifications.
Sperry Marine, with worldwide headquarters in Charlottesville, Va., and major engineering and support offices in New Malden, United Kingdom, and Hamburg, Germany, is part of Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector. Sperry Marine provides smart navigation and ship control solutions for the international marine industry with customer service and support through offices in 16 countries, sales representatives in 47 countries, and authorized service depots in more than 250 locations worldwide.
Headquartered in Baltimore, Md., Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems is a world leader in the design, development and manufacture of defense and commercial electronic systems including airborne radar, navigation systems, electronic countermeasures, precision weapons, airspace management systems, communications systems, space sensors, marine and naval systems, government systems and logistics services. For more information, see www.northropgrumman.com.