Introducing ECDIS (Editorial 11th february 2011)

  • Date: 10/02/2011

Installation of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems on board ships engaged on international voyages became subject to a mandatory deadline from the 1st January 2011. 

Our loss prevention department has published “An introduction to electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS)” the first of three guides reviewing the implementation of these systems.  This first issue identifies the SOLAS requirements for ECDIS and the implications for STCW, ISM and Port State Control inspections. 

In the amendments to SOLAS of that date (Chapter V, Regulation 19), a new paragraph (2.10) sets out the sequence of deadlines for different classes of ship implementing ECDIS.  The earliest is July 2012 for new passenger ships greater than 500 gross tons and new tankers greater than 3,000 gross tons.

The performance standards under IMO distinguish accepted ECDIS implementation from other electronic chart systems.  Among other requirements these standards include IMO type approved equipment, the use of chart data supplied or authorised by a national hydrographic office and adequate system redundancy or back-up systems.

ECDIS has implications for the STCW 95 code (Standards of Training, Certification & Watchkeeping).  General training obligations under the code exist in respect of ECDIS.  However, the forthcoming Manila amendments to the code which take effect from 1 January 2012 will require type specific ECDIS training, even where it is only used as an aid to navigation.

The requirement under ISM is for type-specific and not just generic training on this equipment to have been accomplished.  This may be demanding for those fleets employing a variety of ECDIS models or manufacturers. 

Marine casualty investigators have identified ineffective ECDIS operation among the causes of marine incidents.  Port State Control inspections have shown a greater focus on these systems of late.  Among the areas of interest by these inspectors have been the provision of compliance and procedural documentation, proof of training and familiarity, properly updated and correct editions of electronic charts and consistency of sensor and display data.

The next edition of loss prevention news on ECDIS will focus on the critical change in skill set required by navigational officers and the requirements of generic and type specific training.

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