ECDIS Problems Looming (Tanker Operator)

A warning has been given about the diverse number of ECDIS on the market ahead of mandation of training certificates coming into force by the middle of next year.

Following the STCW amendments recently agreed at the Manila meeting, there will be a vast amount of navigating officers queuing up at training facilities to gain ECDIS certificates.

However, there are around 32 ECDIS OEMs with a possible couple more to come, many of which offer differing information levels, according to UK-based trainer ECDIS Ltd.

The company currently works with four OEMs with another three due to install equipment in the coming months at ECDIS Ltd’s training centre near Fareham, Hampshire.

One of the problems is that the ECDIS by and large has been designed by engineers with little or no navigator input, according to Malcolm Instone, ECDIS Ltd’s director of operations and standards.

He said that the technology needed human input and that the systems were not as user friendly as they could be. Some of the functions included were not required, he said.

He explained that the system’s operator was the person who decided just how much information would be included on the screen and will have to configure the system. An ECDIS needs managing with written procedures for the navigators, he said.

Currently, it is not known how many ships are fitted with a single or dual ECDIS, or how many are actually sailing paperless.

There are also several flag states who have not issued standards for ECDIS training leaving operators not knowing what is needed ahead of the STCW amendments coming into force.

Some flag states, include Liberia, do not recognise Raster navigation charts (RNCs), meaning that an operator will have to use ENCs, or paper charts.

“There will be a vast demand for training next year, but at the moment ship operators are waiting for flag states to issue regulations and standards,” Instone said.

The UK’s MCA has stipulated that a five-day training course is needed and a one to two days course on type specific ECDIS for familiarisation.

ECDIS Ltd’s training courses are authorised by the MCA and also by DNV.

Article “ECDIS problems looming” originally published by Tanker Operator on 22nd October 2010 (