18th May 2016
UKHO urges ship owners to upgrade to new digital chart standards
The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has today reiterated its call for ship owners to upgrade to the latest ECDIS software standards, highlighting the significant benefits that the new IHO S-52 Presentation Library edition 4.0 will offer mariners, including greater consistency in the display of Electronic Nautical Charts (ENCs) and a reduction in the number of audible alarms on the bridge.
According to the UKHO, shipping companies have welcomed the recent announcement of a 12-month extension to the transition period for owners to switch to the new Presentation Library 4.0. However, upgrade requirements will vary from ship to ship, so the UKHO strongly encourages owners to take advantage of the new ECDIS Standards at the earliest opportunity, rather than waiting until the new deadline of 31 August 2017.

Tom Mellor, the UKHO’s Head of Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Support and Digital Standards and Chairman of the IHO’s ENC Working Group commented:
The UKHO is continuing to work with manufacturers to ensure that users can experience the full benefit of the latest software standards. The transition to the new ECDIS Standards is definitely gathering pace and it is encouraging to see such positive progress with ECDIS manufacturers working hard to secure type-approval for their ECDIS software.
“Naturally, ship owners will also have questions about the new ECDIS Standards. One recurring question is whether there are any compatibility issues between newly produced ENCs and the current Presentation Library edition 3.4. Owners need not be concerned about this, as ENCs themselves are unchanged. The upgrade applies to the Presentation Library, which governs how the ENC data is displayed on the ECDIS screen, not the data itself.

Source: UKHO

Technical Standards for ECDIS 

The number one complaint from mariners on ECDIS was the number of alarms generated. The IHO has taken this on board with the latest Presentation Library (version 4.0) which addresses this issue. Also, information such as fairway and anchorage area names now appear on screen, with landmarks, lights and buoys viewable via a ‘hover-over’ function. This reduces the constant need to find information buried in a pick report.

Read the Admiralty Blog "The new S-52 ECDIS Standards: What do they mean for you?" by Tom Mellor, Head of OEM Support and Digital Standards.

The new ECDIS testing standard publication date is expected to be Aug 15th. From this date the new edition of S-52 will be the reference for the type approval of new ECDIS. Existing ECDIS will have to be upgraded to the latest Presentation Library within twelve months.

Download the industry recommendations for ECDIS Training:

  ECDIS Training Recommendations


Download the industry recommendations for ECDIS Familiarisation:

  ECDIS Familiarisation Recommendations


Users new to an ECDIS-installed ship should check that sufficient knowledge of items on the familiarisation check list is obtained before using the ECDIS and its back-up at sea. If use is to be made of the RCDS Mode, any differences in operational procedures should also be understood. Items in the list have been identified with a W or an M.
Although users of ECDIS should have an understanding of all items marked W and M, the priority for a watch-keeping officer is to become fully familiar with all items marked W. For those users who are responsible for voyage planning and other ECDIS management activities, items marked W and M have equal priority.

Download the ECDIS familiarisation checklist contained within 'ECDIS and POSITIONING', a Nautical Institute publication written by Dr Andy Norris FNI:

  ECDIS Familiarisation Checklist

Download the press release issued by the ECDIS Training Group regarding the revised IMO Model Course for ECDIS:

  ECDIS press release - IMO Model Course 1.27 2012 Edition

ECDIS Feedback

The Manila Amendments to STCW (which include the use of ECDIS to maintain the safety of navigation as a required competence) came into force on 1st January 2012 and the mandatory carriage of ECDIS began to phase in from 1st July 2012. Over the next 5 years, as more mariners gain experience in using new equipment and technology associated with electronic navigation, there will be many issues arising from this increasing use of ECDIS. The Nautical Institute would like to hear from you on any relevant issues you have experienced in using ECDIS.

Issues may be directly related to the use of equipment and its navigational facilities, including whether information is being appropriately displayed. Other issues may address aspects of the current operational practice of using ECDIS and some may arise solely from insufficient or inappropriate training of users.

To contribute your views, experience or comments to the forum email:

Identification of correspondents will be removed before posting.
The long term aim of this initiative is to improve the design of ECDIS equipment and its data by influencing regulations and standards and also to influence the way in which the use of ECDIS is taught to and used by seafarers.

The Nautical Institute's Technical Committee has arranged to collate any reported issues and submit them to the appropriate bodies including:

• The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)
• The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)
• The International Association of Marine Electronics Companies (CIRM)
• The IMO

This forum also contains links to useful information for mariners, including casualty reports where ECDIS or ECS has been found to be a contributory factor. (Dates are the date of the investigation report.)