US Army Corps of Engineers
Army Geospatial Center

Electronic Charting For Inland Waterway Navigation

Published Feb. 14, 2013
Inland Electronic Navigational Charts example

Inland Electronic Navigational Charts example

Background and Description

The U.S. inland navigation system consists of 8,200 miles of rivers maintained by the Corps of Engineers in 22 states, and includes 276 lock chambers with a total lift of 6,100 feet. The highly adaptable and effective system of barge navigation moves over 625 million tons of commodities annually, which includes coal, petroleum products, various other raw materials, food and farm products, chemicals, and manu- factured goods. Following recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board, the National Academy of Science and the American Waterways Operators, Congress directed the Corps of Engineers to develop and publish electronic charts for the inland waterways. Thus development of Inland Electronic Navigational Charts (IENCs) to cover the Mississippi River and tributaries began in 2001 with pilot projects on the Atchafalaya River in Louisiana and Lower Mississippi River near Vicksburg, Mississippi. These projects were the first USACE efforts to collect and convert inland waterway data, commonly used for river and channel maintenance, into the international S-57 Hydrographic Data Exchange format. This highly structured data format is commonly used for electronic chart applications and it is used for all Corps IENCs.

Key Capabilities

Large-scale, accurate, and up-to-date IENCs, as now developed, enable electronic charting systems to provide accurate and real-time display of vessel positions relative to waterway features, improved voyage planning and monitoring, new personnel training tools and an integrated display of river charts, radar and Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) overlays.

Success Stories

IENC S-57 data are public data and have a variety of users from hydrographic agencies, government entities, private industry to the individual mariner. IENC promotes international harmonization with members of the European Union and members in South America for commonality of S-57 data standards. This effort promotes common data structures for inland ENCs, and accommodates unique local requirements where needed. The IENC program promotes forum participation of chart vendors, consultants, and industry governance by waterway authorities.

Current Status

Today, over 7200 miles of navigable rivers have been electronically charted. IENCs for the following rivers are available for free download and unlimited use from the Corps E-Charting web site at www.agc.army.mil/echarts: Allegheny, Arkansas, Atchafalaya, Clinch, Black Warrior-Tombigbee, Cumberland, Green, Illinois, Kanawha, Lower Mississippi, Missouri, Monongahela, Ouachita, Ohio, Red, Tennessee, Tennessee-Tombigbee, Upper Mississippi and White.

Further IENC developments include providing more accurate hydrographic surveys, improving location accuracy of features within the waterways and producing supplemental chart data layers depicting specialized river information through the use of IENC Overlays.

Point of Contact

IENC Program,  (703) 428-6735