Guide to ECDIS management launched

Operational mistakes Common ECDIS operational mistakes highlighted in the ECDIS management guide. Credit: The London P&I Club

The London P&I Club has joined forces with London Offshore Consultants (LOC) to produce a guide to the proper management of ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) onboard ships.

The driving force behind the publication, ‘Is your ECDIS contributing to safe navigation or introducing risk?’ is the increasing number of negative findings recorded by the club during ship inspections which are attributable to the way in which the introduction of ECDIS on ships is being managed.

Speaking about ECDIS, the club said that “managers should ensure that the users of such systems, while potentially experienced navigators, are able to apply vital navigation skills such as manual position-fixing and parallel indexing in the ECDIS environment.”

Common failings

In the latest issue of its StopLoss Bulletin, the club notes that the more common failings identified include a lack of ECDIS content in the watch handover checklist; a lack of familiarity on behalf of bridge-watchkeeping officers with the manual position-fixing method; a lack of GPS position cross-checking; a lack of understanding of the safe application of deep-contour; safety-depth; shallow contour and safety contour; and a failure to revise the Safety Management System (SMS) to include ECDIS.

Type-specific quality training is vitally important for ensuring that staff can perform their fundamental navigational tasks, said the club.

It noted that while the ‘at a glance’ constantly updated nature of a GPS position, making progress along a planned course line in ECDIS is useful, it can encourage the watchkeeping officer to neglect to cross-reference the satellite-derived position with visual and radar fixes.

“A well-structured SMS policy and a good-quality, type-specific training programme can help avoid navigational safety shortcomings caused by the introduction of technology which ought to enhance safety,” stressed the club.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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