Before 2012, the fitting of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) on vessels was optional; using paper charts as a back-up as required by SOLAS regulation V/19-2. 1.4. This option has since been made mandatory, effective on a rolling timetable.
The implementation schedule for the carriage of ECDIS is dependent on vessel type and size as illustrated in the diagram below:
ECDIS compliance dates by ship type and size
This chart shows when the regulations come into force for each vessel type
With respect to the carriage, operation and use of ECDIS by Superyachts, those who fall within the 500 through 2999GT and carry less than 12 passengers, will not be affected or mandated (under the present rules). That said, many vessels are weighing up the pros and cons of electronic navigation over paper charts and making the transition during refit or in-depth maintenance periods.
There are many advantages associated to navigating on ECDIS in what is becoming a new way to operate at sea but many seasoned mariners are against the new technology and see ECDIS screens as too small on which to safely maintain an awareness of what's around them, while the younger generation think paper charts are a waste of time and that a GPS feed into an ECDIS to show exactly where you are at any given time is the way to go. Both in their own way are right but the prudent navigator will take the best of both and amalgamate them to provide a safe operating procedure for the protection of the vessel and those on board at all times.
It should also be remembered that in the same way a home or office computer needs to be kept up-to-date with software upgrades, an ECDIS computer does likewise. Unfortunately the majority of ECDIS manufacturers have no idea who has bought their equipment and are therefore unaware of who to notify when upgrades are made available. Shipping management companies or navigation management providers should keep these records to act as a means of informing the operators when upgrades are necessary to ensure equipment continues to function in the most effective way. Mariners should be aware that a greater emphasis is being placed on Port State inspectors under the Paris and Tokyo MOU to interrogate vessel ECDIS to confirm not just the charts are up-to-date but that the ECDIS software is too. Therefore to help mariners identify whether they have the latest software version, we have provided links below to the main manufacturers website pages. Please click on the manufacturers name to be taken to the appropriate page.
Additional information on the status of the main manufacturers can be found at this link.
Comprehensive details of the new regulations can be found on the IMO website at this link and while the specifics can vary from Flag State to Flag State, in general, vessels and crew are required to:
- Fit one or two type approved ECDIS to the bridge (Flag specific) with an appropriate back-up procedure in place.
- Complete an officially accredited ECDIS course to the IMO 1.27 course model (40 hours over 5 days).
- Complete official type familiarisation training for the ECDIS they will be using.
- Operate with type approved electronic charts.
In the matter of the last point above, there are a number of chart options available to the operator but these are often dependant upon the type of ECDIS installed. Different manufacturers will set their systems to operate with specific charts for which the most common providers are ADMIRALTY, Jeppesen, Transas and Navtor. For further details on which systems are best with which charts, contact our navigation section for impartial comprehensive advice.
From August 2015, a new standard came into force from the IHO which determined an update to the presentation library on ECDIS. All manufacturers were tasked to have their clients operating on the new library by August 2016 however as of mid- March 2016 this date has now been formally delayed until August 2017. Ships and management companies responsible for the use of ECDIS on board are strongly advised to contact their supplier and determine what updates are necessary to their equipment and when it will be scheduled in.
If you require further information or assistance, please contact us.
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