The Navigational Chart is one of the most fundamental tools available to the mariner. Charts are available in various formats as described below. A Nautical Chart is a graphic portrayal of the marine environment showing the nature and form of the coast, the general configuration of the sea bottom including water depths, locations of dangers to navigation, locations and characteristics of man-made aids to navigation and other features useful to the mariner. View an example of a chart section. The Nautical Chart is essential for safe navigation. In conjunction with supplemental navigational aids, it is used by the mariner to lay out courses and navigate ships by the shortest and most economically safe route. The importance of Nautical charts is evident with over 98% of the nation’s cargo carried by waterborne transportation.
NOAA's Nautical Chart products are available in various formats. NOAA's Lithographic Nautical Charts are the traditional paper charts that are updated with each new edition. The paper charts are are available from your local nautical chart agent, or by contacting the FAA Distribution Division shown below. NOAA's traditional paper chart distributed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) are available six to eight weeks after NOAA releases a New Edition. This is the time required to print and warehouse the traditional paper chart.