More electronic nautical charts for Greenland are on the way


The Danish Geodata Agency is ramping up the pace of its electronic nautical charting of southwestern Greenland.

(photo: Colourbox)

Following a successful pilot project in 2018/2019, the Danish Geodata Agency will publish a number of special nautical charts in 2021 that, similarly to standard ENC and newly published paper charts, are adapted to modern GPS navigation while containing less data. The ENCs are referred to internally at the Danish Geodata Agency as ‘ENCs with limited content’, and they are intended to help ensure safer maritime travel in Greenlandic waters.

We have large quantities of up-to-date hydrographic survey data lying around, and ENCs with limited content give us the opportunity to release that data faster than has currently been the case as well as get the data out there where it can help those who could benefit from it: the users. This results in safer maritime travel in the surveyed waters and thereby safer navigation for seafarers, explained Elizabeth Hagemann, head of division at the Danish Geodata Agency.

Base Content ENCs will be published as standard ENCs that can be used in the electronic navigation systems of maritime vessels, and they will also be available to the Danish Geodata Agency’s resellers that supply ENCs to boaters, fishermen, etc.

The picture shows the SAR3 boat which is used by the Danish Armed Forces' Sea Survey to survey the inland route in Greenland. 

- It's really exciting with ENCs with limited content. We are very excited that the Danish Geodata Agency can launch updated data faster than otherwise expected to our users in Greenland, adds Kenneth Lund Bøjler, head of department in the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure in Greenland.

Not a substitute for paper chart
Users should note that ENCs with limited content only contain the most necessary data, including new accurate depth data, a new georeferenced coastline and the data required for safe navigation, such as lighthouses, beacons and cables. It may, therefore, be necessary to also have a paper nautical chart on board when navigating through areas where hydrographic survey data is not as up to date.

The figure shows what the new ENCs with limited content look like on two different scales. The Nase Content ENC covers the Prince Christian Sound, where recent surveys have been carried out, but electronic charts of the area have not yet been made.

One of the benefits of ENCs is that they are available to anyone who owns a chartplotter or tablet and has a subscription with one of the Danish Geodata Agency’s resellers that sell ENCs. 

“We expect that electronic nautical charts will be adopted by more types of users, such as dinghy sailors and boaters who do not traditionally rely on nautical charts during their voyage. A possible extra benefit of the new nautical charts is that it will be possible to view a lot of details about depth variations, which could be particularly interesting to fishermen,” said Hagemann, without guaranteeing, however, that using the charts would lead to catching more fish!

The agreement between the Grenlandic Government and the Danish Geodata Agency was revised in 2017 and a new production plan was drawn up in 2018 with an expected completion in 2026. We are thus looking very much forward to the agreed charts being completed, but are also pleased with this initiative, which is expected to benefit the marine safety and fishing in the mean time, concludes Kenneth Lund Bøjler. 

The Danish Geodata Agency expects that, by the end of 2023, the ENCs with limited content will result in modern and comprehensive electronic nautical charts covering all the areas in southwestern Greenland that the agency possesses depth measurement data on.


Purpose of the Base Content ENCs:

  • To make quality data available on a usable scale
  • To reduce the time it takes to publish hydrographic survey data to users
  • To improve the ENC coverage of Greenland with a view to opening up new areas and new route options for modern navigation
  • Once the Base Content ENCs have been produced, the Danish Geodata Agency will continue to expand them with the remaining data as well as produce the corresponding paper nautical charts for those areas
  • The production of Base Content ENCs will not replace or delay the existing production plan that the agency has prepared in collaboration with the Government of Greenland

The Base Content ENCs will only contain the most necessary navigational data:

  • Multibeam depth data
  • New georeferenced coastline
  • Data that is important to navigation, e.g. lighthouses, beacons and cables

Base Content ENCs do NOT contain:

  • “Old” hydrographic survey data (data that has not been obtained via multibeam)
  • Land data, e.g. lakes, topography, names, etc.


Elizabeth Hagemann
Head of Office
AreaDanish Geodata Agency


Kenneth Lund Bøjler
Head of Department
AreaMinistry of Housing and Infrastructure, Greenland