Page 51: of Maritime Logistics Professional Magazine (Q1 2011)

Maritime Risk

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Soften the STCW Sting

Well-planned technical training can reduce the risks imposed by the latest wave of IMO & STCW regulatory burdens. ECDIS training is a logical place to start. by Peter Thornton, ECDIS Ltd.



TCW is not a four-letter word. Really. Neither is

ECDIS. Remarkably, ECDIS has been accepted as a replacement for paper charts since 2002, but as few as 5,000 vessels worldwide have so far been fitted with it. The benefits of ECDIS navigation can arguably be measured in terms of safety, time and cost. The maritime industry’s failure to fully embrace the technology, on the other hand, can per- haps be measured in terms of cost, lack of confidence, and/or capability. In less than 12 months, the reality of one metric is going to meet the potential of another. The ability of industry to properly manage that risk, especially in terms of the

STCW-mandated ECDIS requirements coming into force on 1 January 2012, will be telling. According to those who’ve already made the transition by choice, the cost of ECDIS – amortized over time – is actually about equal to maintaining the traditional paper chart portfolio. For those who fear the unknown or lack the confidence to take the plunge, it has also been found that most who have made the transition would not want to go back to paper. And, even on vessels where ECDIS has been introduced but paper is supposed to remain as the primary chart mode; operators have discovered that their deck officers are uncomfortable with moving back to the old way of doing things. For everyone else, the regulations have a way of eliminating the decision for you. The only thing left is to begin investigating the risks involved in moving the paper chart into the closet, and finally letting go.


At the heart of any operator’s reluctance to move forward with what will eventually become standard operating proce- dure is a fundamental misunderstanding of the differences between the two main forms of electronic chart operating sys- tems. An ECS (Electronic Chart System) and an ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) are not the same thing. Unlike, ECDIS, the former is not accepted as a replacement for paper charts For an ECDIS to be an ECDIS, it must be of a type that meets performance standards detailed in IMO Resolution A.817(19) as amended – specifically

MSC232(82) from 01 Jan 2009 as the latest, (as well as being affected by many other associated bridge equipment stan- dards) – which in doing so can allow it to be used in lieu of a traditional paper chart (provided a suitable backup is avail- able). If at any time an ECDIS fails to meet requirements – for example, by using unofficial charts, having incorrect user settings (non-IMO mode) or losing a critical sensor – the sys- tem ceases to meet those performance standards and reverts

A containership crew enter New York Harbor on the

ECDIS Ltd. Transas Bridge Simulator.

Maritime Logistics Professional

Maritime Logistics Professional magazine is published six times annually.