S-52 Specifications for chart content and display aspects of ECDIS

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Full name S-52, Specifications for chart content and display aspects of ECDIS
Version Edition 6.0.0
Amendments None
Corrigenda None
Published by IHO
Languages English
Online overview http://iho.int/iho_pubs/standard/S-52/S-52_e6.0_EN.pdf
Type of standard IHO International Standard
Application level
Related standard(s) IMO Performance Standards for ECDIS, 1995 edition
S-57 IHO Transfer Standard for Digital Hydrographic Data
IHO INT 1 Symbols, Abbreviations, Terms used on Charts
IEC 62288 Presentation of navigation related information - General requirements, methods of test and required test results
IEC 61174 ECDIS - Operational and performance requirements, methods of testing and required test results
IEC 60945 Maritime Navigation and Radio Communication Equipment and Systems – General Requirements – Methods of Testing and Required Test Results
IHO S-32 Appendix 1: Hydrographic Dictionary - Glossary of ECDIS-related terms
IHO S-60 User´s Handbook on Datum Transformations involving WGS-84
Application S-52 defines the specifications for Chart Content and Display Aspects of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS), which are intended to contribute to the safe operation of ECDIS.
Conformance classes None specified


These Specifications for Chart Content and Display Aspects of ECDIS are intended to contribute to the safe operation of ECDIS by:

  • ensuring a base and supplementary levels of display for ENC data; standards of symbols, colours and their standardized assignment to features; scale limitations of data presentation; and appropriate compatibility with paper chart symbols as standardized in the Chart Specifications of the IHO.
  • ensuring the display is clear and unambiguous,
  • ensuring that there is no uncertainty over the meaning of colours and symbols on the display,
  • establishing an accepted pattern for ECDIS presentation that becomes familiar to mariners and so can be recognized instantly without confusion.

Implementation benefits

S-52 was developed to ensure safety and efficiency of navigation by satisfying the requirements set out in the performance standards for ECDIS. The colours and symbols defined in S-52 are based on common symbology of conventional paper charts. However, due to the special conditions of the ECDIS chart display as a computer generated image, the ECDIS presentation of ENC data does not match the appearance of a conventional paper chart closely. The specification of symbols and colours ensures that the charts can be used and understood by individuals from different regions.

Implementation guidelines

ECDIS have become popular with the widespread use of computer systems. S-52 provides specifications to ensure that these ECDIS are developed and used optimally. S-52 consists of the following components:

  1. Considerations – organising the display
    The design considerations go into great detail about the display and the different aspects of the data to be displayed. They provide detailed guidelines for the design process.
  2. Symbol specifications for areas, lines and points, and for text
    The symbol set for ECDIS is described in this specification and illustrations can be obtained in the ECDIS Chart 1 (in the Presentation Library).
  3. Specifications for colours
    EDCIS manufacturers can use any technology to develop their display as long as it meets the requirements set out in this specification. The requirements for the colours are described in detail and an accompanying file can be downloaded from the Presentation Library.
  4. Specifications for the display screen
    The physical display requirements specify a minimum screen size of 270mm X 270mm, a resolution greater than 864 lines per mm, and the use of 64 colours. The calibration of the display should be performed according to the guidelines in Annex 1 of S-52.

There are also two annexes on the procedure for initial calibration of colour displays and the maintenance thereof.