The London P&I Club says the timetable for the mandatory implementation of ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) is advancing and that owners must take account of the potential risks involved in replacing more traditional means of voyage planning and monitoring with advanced technology.
In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the club noted: “Ineffective use of any electronic navigational aid can lead to marine accidents. A causative factor in a number of recent grounding accidents is the incorrect operation of ECDIS.It is essential that the navigator is not only effectively trained in the proper use of ECDIS, but also understands the limitations of the equipment and its primary role as a decision-support system.”
The club added: “The statutory requirements for ECDIS training are covered in the STCW Convention, the ISM Code and SOLAS Chapter 5. The IMO ECDIS Model Course 1.27 should provide the navigator with the required level of understanding, competence and confidence for application in all aspects of navigation. However, with a vast array of ECDIS manufacturers, there is a challenge for the navigator to reach an acceptable degree of competence in a specific onboard system.
“Familiarisation with type-specific ECDIS, whether provided by the manufacturer, the manufacturer’s agent or a trainer, has been identified as a priority for training. The additional challenge is to ensure that the quality of both generic and familiarisation training is sufficient to reduce the risks associated with this transition to new technology, whilst satisfying the scrutiny of external parties, such as Port State Control, where the focus will be on demonstrating operational competence on the ship’s ECDIS equipment.”