Take 10: Issue 27 Navigation Layers

01 Jun 2021 The Navigator

Navigational layers – and understanding how they work and what benefits they provide – are a crucial part of a navigator’s role. Here are ten key points to add to your layers of knowledge:

1 Don’t stand alone 

Many navigation systems are designed to stand alone (ECDIS, radar, AIS, etc…) but are capable of being integrated. 

2 Stronger together 

Understanding how to manage integrated systems will help you improve your situational awareness and make better decisions. 

3 Avoid overload 

Poorly managed layers can lead to information overload and multiple symbols can mask critical information. 

4 Fit for purpose 

There is no one ‘best way’ to layer. Sometimes radar over ECDIS works well, other times a different set-up is better. Understand the differences and which combination to use. 

5 Association is good 

Some systems allow AIS and ARPA targets to be ‘associated’ into one symbol, giving strong support that the two different systems agree – disassociation tells a different story. 

6 The more you know 

Many systems, even those from the same manufacturer, have different control functions. Good familiarisation with your on board system will give you power.

7 Not just tradition 

Plotting manual Lines of Position on ECDIS and using Parallel Indexing may seem like traditional skills from the paper age, but they are still valid and useful in the electronic age – understand why and how. 

8 Into the future 

In the future, many more ‘layers’ will be available, possibly from optical, satellite or sonar input. Watch out for these and understand how to use them to make good decisions. 

9 All available means 

Integrated Navigation Systems (INS) are a powerful tool when used correctly – but don’t forget your other human tools of sight, hearing, feel, and the mariner’s sixth sense. 

10 Spread the knowledge 

As more tools become available to the navigator we will all need to share this information to learn ‘good practice’. Discuss these issues with your teams; mentoring isn’t just senior to junior, but with this it may be junior to senior.