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Procedures for Introduction and Familiarization of ECDIS -Cargo Ships Guideline

Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) is shipborne navigational equipment that is regarded as equivalent to paper charts as per the SOLAS regulations. Currently, its carriage is mandatory for all merchant ship types as per the new Amendments to SOLAS regulations chapter V. The introduction of any new bridge equipment has the potential for risk during the transitional phase while navigating officers and masters become properly accustomed and experienced in its use. Radar was an example of this and brought about several incidents that were termed 'radar assisted collisions.' ECDIS, and the switch from conventional paper charts, was probably the most significant change ever experienced within the industry and undoubtedly bring a period of increased risk.

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How an Electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) works?

The newly developed navigational tool using digital charts (vectorized and raster charts) for navigational tasks normally carried out with paper charts. The equipment must be type-approved and uses up-to-date official charts. As long as the area covered by vector charts (ENC) is small, the ECDIS should be able to cover both vector and raster (RNC) charts. When operating in raster mode, an ECDIS must be used together with an appropriate folio of up-to-date paper charts.

An ECDIS presentation
An ECDIS presentation

North up/heads capability of ECDIS:

In the normal north up mode, the ship moves across the static chart until it approaches the edge of the screen when a new section of the chart is automatically displayed. In heads up, the vessel remains in the center of the display while the chart moves underneath. The vessel always appears up on display with the image automatically rotated to the correct orientation, thereby matching the scene outside the window.

Radar overlay

A navigation system which superimposes live radar video output over ECDIS. It provides a scan-converted output for display, automatically scaled to suit the displayed chart. The transparency can be adjusted so that the chart can be seen through the radar image. The overlay and its controls conform to the ECDIS standard for combining radar with the ECDIS chart display.

Electronic navigational chart (ENC),

also vectorised chart Vector charts made up of layers which can be displayed selectively. Each point on the chart is digitally mapped, allowing information to be used in a more particular way, such as clicking on a feature to display its information. Vector charts have the advantage of being "interactive." For instance, the operator can pre-set the vessel draught and a mile exclusion zone. At any time when the vessel is within mile of an area of shallow water, an alarm activates. Chart data can be shared with other equipment such as arpa and radar. There are various chart formats. Hydrographic offices are responsible for the production and accuracy of the ENC material.

When a vessel is fitted with ECDIS under the mandatory requirements and is certified, the ECDIS will be allowed as the primary navigation for that part of the voyage, where the vessel has a Vector chart display system (VCDS), and paper charts need not be used. To ensure compliance with the ECDIS requirement, and that the transition is smooth, equipment installed and Master and Bridge watchkeepers are all provided generic and ship-specific ECDIS equipment training before the implementation dates of various type vessel.

ECDIS Training Requirements

Master and Navigating Officers of vessels with ECDIS as their primary means of navigation must be fully familiar with the ECDIS operation before the first voyage after installation of ECDIS. The Master and all Navigational Officers of vessels, which have ECDIS as their primary means of navigation, are required to have completed both generic and ship specific equipment ECDIS training. Onboard vessels fitted with ECDIS, Masters are to ensure that all deck officers on board are familiar with the operation of ECDIS together with its limitations, this shall be recorded. To avoid catastrophic events and to maintain an optimum situational awareness, navigators must always recognize the display level for objects presented when using ECDIS. The values for the safety depth and safety contour must be understood and entered to achieve a sensible and considered meaning and alarm settings.

ECDIS Generic Training

The completion of an ECDIS program based on the IMO Model ECDIS course (1.27) approved by any national maritime authority will be recognized as meeting the ECDIS generic training requirements. It will mitigate the risk of a navigation incident through unfamiliarity with ECDIS and e-navigation principles in general.

ECDIS Type Specific Training

There exist an inherent risk when the user not entirely familiar with the use of a type-specific ECDIS. The industry expects all deck officers to complete a manufacturer-approved familiarisation course to bridge any gaps between the IMO 1.27 course and the specific equipment installed on their assigned vessel. This type-specific familiarization training must be completed before the Officer taking his/her first navigational watch onboard. Where the Officer completed his/her IMO 1.27 course on the same make of equipment as fitted onboard, this is deemed sufficient to cover both the generic and type-specific training needs to be provided the ECDIS equipment make / model is recorded on the training certificate.

ECDIS manufacturers provide different forms of type-specific training. It ranges from CBT training to training courses provided at the manufacturer's facility. The convenience and cost of the various types of manufacturer training, therefore, vary greatly and will require varying levels of planning and organization.

ECDIS Vessel Specific Training

For all vessels fitted with ECDIS, joining masters and deck officers must continue to undergo ship specific equipment familiarisation.

ECDIS Company Specific Training

For all vessels fitted with ECDIS, the company should develop an in-house ECDIS course to supplement the IMO 1.27 course, which will focus on minimum standards, an explanation of ECDIS use, and best practice procedures must be used by all masters and deck officers when navigating using ECDIS.

ECDIS implementation phases

Related Information

ECDIS warning procedure
Although many vessels have fitted Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) on a voluntary basis, its use will significantly increase once passenger vessels, tankers and dry cargo ships begin to comply with mandatory SOLAS requirements for ECDIS.

Admiralty Chart correction procedure
There are currently two methods of carrying out electronic chart corrections, either via Weekly Updates, CD or downloaded weekly from a recognized electronic chart supplier's data. The preferred method will be decided by the Management Office depending on the communications equipment onboard the vessel, but in the majority of cases the lack of internet access will determine the update CD as the best option....

Navigational guideline for ships - use of bridge movement book
A Bell book must be used to record significant information pertaining to the vessels movements. There should be sufficient facts to reconstruct the passage, if required at a later date, in conjunction with other data recording (Handwritten or Electronic).

Requirement of ECDIS training and implementation guideline
To ensure compliance with the ECDIS requirement, to ensure that the transition is smooth, equipment installed and Master and Bridge watch keepers are all provided generic and ship-specific ECDIS equipment training before the implementation dates of various type vessel: .....

What are the conditions that should be reported to master while navigating ship? ....
The Officer of the watch shall notify the Master immediately in the following circumstances: 1. When visibility becomes less than three nautical miles. (minimum criteria 3 miles; Master can increase this) ....
What are the safe navigational procedure for the Officer of the watch? ....
The Officer of the watch (OOW) shall comply with masters standing orders (including any supplementary instructions) to carry out the navigational watch. He must always bear in mind that he is the Master's representative and has primary responsibility at all times for the safe navigation of the ship and for fully complying with the latest COLREGS .....

What are the entries to be made in deck logbook ? ....
The Deck Log Book is an important document and serves as necessary evidence in case of any Accidents and Casualties. It must contain Factual Entries with Time in each entry. A clear and accurate record of the ship's activities must be kept, as the Logbook will form the main part of the collection of evidence in case of any incidents.....

Guidance on ECDIS- data presentation and performance check standards
Type approval is the certification process that ECDIS equipment must undergo before it can be considered as complying with the IMO Performance Standards for ECDIS. The process is conducted by type approval organizations and marine Classification Societies. ...

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