The United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) has called for ship owners, operators and managers to exercise greater vigilance in order to tackle the rise in ECDIS-related detentions and the risks to safety at sea. With a growing majority of the global fleet having completed the switch to digital navigation, evidence is emerging that the number of ECDIS-related issues during inspections and audits is on the rise. Earlier this year, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) reported a significant increase in the number of ships detained because of ECDIS deficiencies. The consequences of ECDIS deficiencies during inspections were highlighted in the recent case of a ship detained in Brisbane by AMSA due to a lack of on-board familiarisation training in the use of ECDIS. This required an ECDIS trainer to be flown in from Singapore to train the crew. The vessel, which had passed through the Great Barrier Reef on its journey, was released from detention upon completion of this crew training. Speaking at SMM 2016 in Hamburg, Thomas Mellor, Head of OEM Technical Support and Digital Standards at UKHO, said: “ECDIS can deliver tremendous benefits for safe, compliant and efficient navigation. However, once installed ship owners, operators and managers must fulfill their responsibilities for its ongoing use, including compliance with all relevant regulations. This includes updating their bridge procedures, upgrading their ECDIS software to the latest IHO ENC standards and, above all, ensuring that bridge teams are trained and certified in the operation of ECDIS and in line with the requirements of Port State Control inspections and audits. “There can be any number of reasons for non-compliance, ranging from inadequate detail in the ship’s Safety Management System (SMS), a failure to use the latest Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) for the voyage plan, or a bridge team unfamiliar with the use of ECDIS. Whatever the reason, the penalties can be severe, whether through the costs of a delayed onward voyage or the impact on an owner’s reputation of a failed SIRE inspection. Most importantly, every incident of non-compliance is a potential threat to the safety of that ship and its crew, as well as other traffic and the marine environment. “PSC inspectors are carrying out more inspections on ships using ECDIS as the primary means of navigation and as a result, are becoming more aware of the latest requirements and which questions to ask. “The good news is that there is plenty of guidance and support available for owners from ECDIS manufacturers and ECDIS training providers. The UKHO has been freely distributing the ADMIRALTY Guide to Audits and Inspections at ECDIS Seminars for several years. “Furthermore we have developed the ADMIRALTY ENC Maintenance Record (NP133C) to make official digital chart information easier to manage, inspect and audit”
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.”
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.
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.