Friday, April 22, 2016

Navigators of Merchant Vessels in Australian Waters Advised of New Software Changes

ECDIS Installation to be Completed by 2018
Shipping News Feature
AUSTRALIA – The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) has advised that the phased carriage requirement of Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) is underway and is scheduled to be completed by 2018. Comprehensive guidance is available in the International Maritime Organization (IMO) Circular MSC.1/Circ.1503 ECDIS Guidance for Good Practice. All ships masters, navigating officers and operators of ships fitted with ECDIS, which will include most if not all major merchant vessels, are encouraged to use this guidance to facilitate the safe and effective use of ECDIS.

Full details of relevant instructions to shipping can be seen here and this Marine Notice 2016/08 highlights areas relevant to the safe and proper operation of ECDIS for ships visiting Australian ports. It also provides information on AMSA’s expectations for ECDIS compliance during port State control (PSC) Inspections and gives details of links to other relevant information.

Ship owners and operators need to ensure careful management and regular maintenance of both ECDIS hardware and software. MSC.1/Circ.1503 contains guidance on maintenance of ECDIS software and identifies the need to keep ECDIS updated to meet the current International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) standards.

Unfortunately, as so often with new software, there are problems. A list of known ECDIS anomalies is included in MSC.1/Circ.1503. Due to the complex nature of ECDIS, and because it involves a mix of hardware, software and data, it is possible (but considered not likely) that further undetected anomalies may exist. The existence of such anomalies highlights the importance of maintaining ECDIS software to ensure the correct display of up-to-date electronic navigational charts. To help understand the extent of these anomalies, navigating officers are encouraged to report any such anomalies, including specific details regarding fitted equipment, to their flag State authority.

The International Convention on the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), requires all officers who carry out navigational tasks to be appropriately trained. All officers in charge of a navigational watch must have a thorough knowledge of and ability to use nautical charts and nautical publications (see STCW Code Table A-II/1). The definition of a nautical chart in SOLAS V/2 includes a special-purpose map or book, or “a specially compiled database”. This includes ENCs and RNCs, relating to the use of ECDIS. All masters and officers in charge of a navigational watch on ECDIS-fitted ships who commenced an approved education and training programme before 1 July 2013 will need to have undertaken approved ECDIS training.

Photo: Courtesy of Sperry Marine.