Planning and Monitoring on same equipment

20 Mar 2012 Resource

"Is it legal/advisable?"

"Is it legal/advisable to do planning and monitoring at the same time on the same equipment?"

The actual position is that you can have a standalone, certified ECDIS, which can display the ENC, and can display radar, chart radar, AIS and be used for planning. In fact, manufacturers sell them with "standalone" as being the main benefit.


(from Dr Andy Norris FNI)

ECDIS certainly has the capability to allow route planning while maintaining its alert functionality for route monitoring. This is there for good practical reasons but clearly should only be used in an emergency or in a perfectly safe situation (such as during an ocean passage, with no relevant charted data to be concerned about).

Existing IMO regulations require you to use radar (and visual) as the primary aids for collision avoidance, and for route monitoring to use ECDIS or paper charts. If ECDIS is used for primary navigation then there has to be a backup system, such as an another ECDIS or the parallel use of paper charts. It is obviously sensible when underway to only use the backup for planning but, of course, not by the officer of the watch. It is all very clear.

There is never a situation where you are allowed to have just one source of chart data. In general, you either have to have two ECDIS (one the primary, the other the backup), or a single ECDIS with the backup being the use of up-to-date paper charts. In this latter case you need always to have the correct paper chart on the chart table, with its route plotted and also for regular positional updates to be plotted. For both cases, in normal circumstances, you have an alternative system that can be used for planning while route monitoring is done on the other.

(from ECDIS Ltd)

Definitive answer (assuming that your primary means of navigation is ECDIS (i.e. dual ECDIS fit): It is not advisable to do planning and monitoring at the same time on ECDIS. Ask yourself, if your primary means of navigation was paper charts, would you do planning on a paper chart at the same time that you were using it for navigation? The OOW should use all available means at his disposal and by using ECDIS to plan on you are denying them the use of a navaid.

Moreover, planning a passage may entail the setting of a Safety Depth/Safety Contour that is different to the active route on the ECDIS. (See Planning and monitoring on same equipment (3)). This will clearly affect the monitored route and is therefore dangerous to do so!

It is therefore advisable to have a planning laptop/terminal/workstation in addition to the dual ECDIS fit and capable of transferring the route and other relevant information to the ECDIS terminals (normally via a LAN).

For example, a recent DNV Technical eNewsletter states:

For relevant NAUT-classed vessels, a special class requirement of an ‘ECDIS route-planning device’ will apply in addition to the ECDIS required by SOLAS. The NAUT Rules...require route planning facilities to be provided to enable the navigator to plan the route for the intended voyage without interfering with the ship’s navigation. The workstation used for these tasks is to be equipped with means for efficient route planning and the direct transfer of the planned route to the navigation workstation(s).

I would suggest that this should not only apply to specific vessels, but is ‘best practice’ for all.