ECDIS’ tanker mandation getting closer

Sep 01 2014

In the IMO’s staggered ECDIS ship type mandation scheme, all existing tankers of 3,000 gt and above will be required to carry ECDIS from their first survey after 1st July, 2015.

Tanker Operator spoke with Jason Scholey, UKHO senior product manager - charts, about the build up to the implementation dates, especially for tankers.

He explained that since 2011, the UKHO ECDIS seminars have provided free, clear and impartial guidance to professionals involved with the shipping industry in all sectors, including managers, owners, ship personnel, regulators and auditors.

By the end of this year, the seminars are projected to exceed a total of 3,400 delegates in 55 locations.

“Each seminar will be tailored to answer any questions and address real-world challenges that those in the room are currently facing whilst adopting ECDIS. If someone were to have a question specific to their sector or job role, such as the Master, or navigator on a tanker, they can submit it when registering, or have it answered on the day.

“The seminars running at SMM are the 11th of 23 key locations that will be visited throughout 2014. The full list and registration links can be found at,” Scholey explained.

“As well as an intensive programme of product development, such as making sure ADMIRALTY Vector Chart Service (AVCS) operates on all ECDIS makes, we have been working very closely with our 24/7 customer service team and distributors to ensure they are able to support customers as they adopt ECDIS.

“One of our initiatives has been the publication of ADMIRALTY Guide to ECDIS Implementation, Policy and Procedures (NP232). NP232 provides an on board reference to support company procedures developed for the operation of ECDIS, which will assist in preparation for audits and inspections and provide  clarification on existing ECDIS policies and procedures.

“NP232 was borne from the ECDIS seminars with feedback from seminar delegates over previous years ensuring that NP232 provides the guidance to ensure informed decision-making by any individual or organisation responsible for ECDIS on board ship.

“With thousands of copies sold, it already plays a key role in helping serving bridge officers, fleet superintendents, P&I clubs, flag and port state authorities, surveyors and classification societies navigate the adoption of ECDIS,” he said.

Talking of a companys/managers preparedness, Scholey said: “Everyone is at different stages for different reasons. I would say that the majority are aware that ECDIS will need to be adopted but it’s difficult to know whether they appreciate the time scale for its adoption.

“One thing is for sure; any ship that needs an ECDIS should have a plan by now. As a general rule, Capt Paul Hailwood – who delivers the UKHO ECDIS seminars – recommends 18 months as a minimum to adopt ECDIS across a fleet.”

Turning to criticisms of too much information being displayed which can confuse the user, Scholey warned; “It is vitally important that the ECDIS display remains clear during navigation and that its users are adequately trained to understand how to configure the display to their needs.

“To ensure that users fully understand the ENC information that they see on their ECDIS display, we published the ADMIRALTY Guide to ENC Symbols used in ECDIS (NP5012) and the ADMIRALTY Guide to the Practical Use of ENCs (NP231) in 2012.

“Much of the additional information that the users of ECDIS require is used in the planning process, which is a key element of safe navigation. For instance, we would expect the ADMIRALTY Information Overlay, which overlays on ENCs ADMIRALTY T&P NMs and navigationally significant differences between ENCs and ADMIRALTY paper charts, to be used during passage planning.

Items of significance would then be marked on the ECDIS using Mariner’s Information Objects,” he said.

Satcom downloads

With the advent of FleetBroadband and VSAT satcoms systems, it would appear to be easy to download the latest information directly by satellite. However, this is sometimes not the case as Scholey pointed out.

“Our customers make use of a range of methods for delivering AVCS data to their vessels. An increasing number are able to regularly download updates over satellite Internet connections, or receive them via email.

However, a significant number continue to prefer to receive the data using our single DVD service, or on CD. A number of our distributors also offer AVCS on USB media for their customers.

“Users of satellite services often download only those updates that they need for their next passage to reduce the bandwidth required. This means that some of the ENCs that they hold may become out of date and will need to be updated before they are next used. Good procedures are needed to ensure that this happens and download services are often used in conjunction with physical media,” he said.

Speaking about the rise of ECDIS type specific training centres worldwide, he said; “Navigation using ECDIS provides the mariner with much faster access to information, greater situational awareness and helps deliver improved safety and efficiency.

“However, the key to delivering these benefits is not simply in the technology itself.

Its success relies on training, supplemented by rigorous strategic planning, highly focussed and competent operational execution of new processes and bridge officers who are not just trained but competent and confident in the use of the ECDIS technology and the information at their disposal.

“For many years, training institutes and the UKHO have enjoyed mutually beneficial working relationships. We have gained valuable feedback on the user experience, to improve the range of ADMIRALTY nautical products & services. We have provided training workshops, advice and information to supplement training institute courses.

“Every year the UKHO supplies maritime training institutes around the world with hundreds of training licences for AVCS alone and many hundreds more licences to our other digital services; including ADMIRALTY Raster Chart Service (ARCS), ADMIRALTY Digital List of Lights (ADLL), ADMIRALTY Digital Radio Signals (ADRS) and ADMIRALTY TotalTide (ATT).

“The UKHO is firmly committed to helping our customers to meet their SOLAS obligations and will continue to strengthen our relationships with well-respected training academies. Jointly we will continue to prepare navigators for the challenges of electronic navigation, ensuring confidence and competence with the products and services that are instantly recognisable on bridges of most ships trading internationally today,” he stressed.

With the growing interest in the Northern Sea Route across the Arctic, especially for tankers and LNG carriers, Scholey said; “Basic ice information such as ice limits and areas are already included in ENCs, which current ECDIS can display.

“In addition, by agreement with data distributors, some ECDIS manufacturers may offer ice overlay functionality within their systems. Currently, there is no mandated requirement for ships to have such an overlay capability, or for ECDIS to be type approved against them.

“For several years an International Ice charting working group has met to develop a detailed catalogue of different ice types, coverage and real and climactic boundaries. It reports to IHO working groups and is composed of member states with an interest in the region.

“Some IHO member states distribute test data and real data and have a variety of ice information services. While there are still a number of different formats, we would expect a standardised ECDIS interface to develop over time using harmonised international standards, given the interest in Arctic navigation and renewed efforts to survey the region by member states,” he concluded.

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