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Phased implementation of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems has commenced.

In 2009 the IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee approved regulations for the mandatory carriage requirement of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) by ships engaged in international voyages. An ECDIS is a computer-based navigation system that complies with IMO regulations and can be used as an alternative to paper navigation charts.

The provision was included in SOLAS V Regulation 19.2 and as of 1st July 2012 the compulsory requirement came into effect. The equipment is mandatory for certain new ships on delivery. Other new ships and existing ships are required to retrofit the equipment “at the first survey”, in accordance with the timetable in Figure 1 below.

 

 
Figure 1 - Timetable for the mandatory adoption of ECDIS.

© Crown Copyright and/or database rights. Reproduced by permission of
the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office
and the UK Hydrographic Office (www.ukho.gov.uk).

 

With a phased implementation requirement for ECDIS commencing in 2012, port authorities will probably focus on the means by which ships meet these implementation requirements and effectiveness of use.

As a minimum requirement all bridge officers should have general ECDIS training that follows the IMO Model Course 1.27 (The Operational Use of Electronic Chart Display and Information System). Additional equipment-specific training for the ECDIS model in use on board is required for every ship, according to the ISM Code.

National authorities may require specific ECDIS training for officers on board vessels in their flag registries, or visiting their ports. The European Union has provided “Guidelines for Port State Control on Electronic Charts” along with the Paris Memorandum of Understanding (PSC MOU). Port state control in countries that are party to the PSC MOU is authorised to determine if “Master and deck watch-keeping officers are able to produce appropriate documentation that generic and type-specific ECDIS familiarisation has been undertaken”. Inspections might require demonstration of competence by the crew as well as evidence of inclusion of ECDIS operation procedures in on-board safety management systems.

Some commercial operators’ vetting schemes have similar requirements and non-compliance could exclude a vessel from trade. The ECDIS concept is a radical change from traditional charts and the transition from paper charts to electronic charts poses a challenge for the industry, particularly for those who have no previous experience of electronic charts.

Recommendations
The decision to install an ECDIS should be made well in advance, to allow enough time for system purchase, installation, related ISM procedure preparation and crew training.

Some ECDIS manufacturers may not be able to supply systems immediately and will require a longer delivery time. The same problem may be applicable to the availability of certified installation engineers and crew training courses. A decision regarding suppliers should be made well in advance of the implementation date.

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