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USS Cape St. George Quartermasters Put Paper Charts Aside

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS050518-08
Release Date: 5/18/2005 11:27:00 AM


By Journalist Seaman Riza Wenthe, Naval Media Center Fleet Support Detachment Norfolk

ABOARD USS CAPE ST. GEORGE (NNS) -- USS Cape St. George (CG 71) is expected to be certified in the Electronic Charting Display and Information System – Navy (ECDIS-N) in May, becoming the fleet’s first ECDIS-N-certified surface ship.

This paperless system allows Sailors to view and manipulate navigation from the bridge, captain’s cabin and combat information center. Cape St. George Commanding Officer (CO) Capt. James R. Yohe said the system provides many time- and energy-saving benefits to his crew.

“Information is put in by one operator at the NAV-1 console and immediately, that information is shared down in combat, which relieves them from having a plotting requirement. So plotting redundancies associated with using the chart in our combat information center are no longer required," Yohe said. "There is a great savings in people and a great savings in effort.”

Yohe also emphasized the training value of the system.

“It is a Windows-based system, so [Sailors training to work in navigation operations] are now immediately transitioning to a computer console and keyboard, and the requisite displays that we use are very similar to what they are used to already," Yohe said. "So the training curve, the readiness to be a certified and trained operator and a major player onboard a ship, is greatly reduced.”

ECDIS-N is the Navy’s version of the navigation system already used by commercial shipping. It gives the Navy the capability of using digital charting with interactive computers and real-time positioning systems to navigate in support of Navy mission requirements. With ECDIS-N in place, Cape St. George uses the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s Digital Nautical Chart as the primary navigation system.

Navigators appreciate the changes the system brings to their job.

“It’s a lot easier to navigate,” said Operations Department, Navigation Division Assistant Leading Petty Officer Quartermaster 2nd Class Kyle Gatewood. "We used to have to do everything by hand, like chart corrections – we used white-out and things like that. But now the computer does it all. All I have to do is put the corrections in through the computer and the computer does it for you.”

A new seaman to the Navigation Division of Cape St. George, Quartermaster Seaman Akil Brathwaite, is excited for the professional opportunities the new system will bring him.

“It’s exciting to know that we’re the first [Navy] ship to use electronic navigation. It’s history to me," Brathwaite said. "I only have eight, nine months in the Navy right now and at least three more years to go, so as I see the Navy improving its capabilities, I know I will experience a lot.”

“When I talk to pilots and other merchants, [Cape St. George] is now navigating exactly the way they do,” added Yohe. “We now have the best information, the best technology out there. It’s my honor to be the CO that brings the surface community there.”

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