Guidance on ECDIS for ships calling at Australian ports

Guidance on ECDIS for ships calling at Australian ports

This notice aims to clarify some of the emerging
issues relating to the carriage requirements for
Electronic Chart Display and Information System
(ECDIS) and provide guidance to ships fitted with
ECDIS calling at Australian ports. Two flow charts
that address ECDIS related issues and which
will be used by AMSA’s Port State Control (PSC)
inspectors, are attached.
As mandatory carriage of ECDIS will be phased
in from 1 July 2012, ship operators and navigating
officers of ECDIS fitted ships are encouraged to
take this guidance into account.
1. Cargo Ship Safety Equipment Certificate
(Form E)
Details of a ship’s navigational systems and
equipment are recorded in Section 3 of Form
E (Record of equipment - Cargo Ship Safety
Equipment Certificate). The means of complying
with SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 19 (i.e. paper
charts and/or ECDIS) needs to be indicated
on a ship’s Form E. If the ship uses ECDIS for
navigation, Form E must clearly state the back-up
arrangement in place. If a vessel requires flexibility
in using either paper charts or ECDIS as the means
of navigation, such an arrangement must be clearly
indicated on Form E. In such cases, both paper
charts and ECDIS must comply with SOLAS
2. Determining the means of navigation
When determining the means of navigation being
used, apart from an indication on Form E, AMSA’s
PSC inspectors look for evidence of planning and
presentation of the ship’s route for the completed
or intended voyage and, of plotting and monitoring
of the ship’s positions throughout the voyage. This
information is cross-checked by the PSC inspectors
against entries made in the ship’s deck log book.
3. Compliant ECDIS
As per SOLAS Chapter V Regulations 18 and
19, for a ship to rely on ECDIS for navigation, the
ECDIS installation must conform to the relevant
IMO Performance Standards (as specified in
Resolution A.817(19) (Performance Standards for
ECDIS), as amended by MSC.232(82)). When
ECDIS is being used for navigation, it must:
i) be type approved,
ii) be maintained to the latest applicable
International Hydrographic Organization (IHO)
iii) use official Electronic Navigational Charts
(ENC), and
iv) have an adequate, independent back-up
3.1 Type approval of ECDIS
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 organisations and marine
Classification Societies.
3.2 Maintenance of ECDIS software
An ECDIS that is not updated to the latest version
of IHO standards may not meet the chart carriage
requirement as set out in SOLAS Regulation
V/ IMO has issued SN.1/Circ 266/Rev.1
on the need to maintain ECDIS software. The
following link provides a list of the latest IHO
standards that apply to ECDIS equipment:
f 4

3.2.1 ECDIS Data Presentation and Performance
Check dataset
IHO has produced an ECDIS Data Presentation
and Performance Check dataset that allows
mariners to check some important aspects of the
operation of their ECDIS. This dataset
two fictitious ENC cells which navigating officers
can load into their ECDIS units to determine if
the latest software is installed and if the units
are operating optimally. If the check highlights
a problem, accompanying guidance notes offer
suggested courses of action. The check dataset
and accompanying instructions can be downloaded
from the IHO website at:
3.3 Carriage of official Electronic Navigational
Ships using ECDIS for navigation must carry
Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC, which are
official vector charts) or, where ENC data has not
been published, Raster Navigational Charts (RNC,
which are scanned, geo-referenced images of
official paper charts). The ENCs and RNCs must
be issued by, or on the authority of, a government,
national Hydrographic Office or other relevant
government institution. They must be of the latest
available edition and be kept up to date using the
latest available notices to mariners.
3.4 Back-up Arrangements for ECDIS
Appendix 6 to IMO Resolution MSC.232(82)
specifies the requirements for adequate,
independent back-up arrangements. The main
requirements are to enable a timely transfer to the
back-up system during critical navigation situations
and allow the vessel to be navigated safely until
the termination of the voyage. AMSA considers
the following will meet the back-up requirements
for ECDIS:
i) an independent, fully compliant second ECDIS
unit, connected to ship’s main and emergency
power supply and connected to systems
providing continuous position fixing capability;
ii) adequate and up to date paper charts (including
relevant large scale charts) necessary for the
intended voyage.
The back-up ECDIS must be loaded with relevant
ENCs and the voyage plan before commencement
of the voyage. Similarly, if paper charts are being
used as the back up, they must be readily available
and the voyage plan must be shown on them. In
confined waters, the back-up arrangement must
be ready for immediate use.
4. Mode of ECDIS operation
A type approved ECDIS, when using current
editions of ENC with the latest corrections
available, operates in ECDIS mode. An alternative
mode, known as Raster Chart Display System
(RCDS) mode, can only be used if there are
no suitable ENCs available for the area being
navigated. In recent years, ENC coverage has
increased rapidly. However, there may still be
some areas (e.g. the polar regions) for which ENCs
have not been issued.
In Australia’s case, ENCs exist for all well-used
coastal shipping routes and for all major ports.
Hence, unless a ship will be operating in or
transiting through an area for which there are
no suitable ENCs, ECDIS should not need to be
operated in RCDS mode in Australian waters. IMO
has issued SN.1/Circ.207/Rev.1 to address the
differences between RCDS and ECDIS.
5. Charts to be used in areas not adequately
covered by ENCs
ENC coverage of the world’s busiest ports and
shipping routes connecting them, is substantially
complete. Away from major shipping routes,
ENCs may be limited to small scale coverage. In
circumstances when greater detail is required, it
may be necessary to use RNCs. When planning
a passage in more remote areas, mariners should
i) any caution embedded in an ENC, advising
of the need to refer to larger scale charts for
some areas, and
ii) any areas within an ENC showing no data
within that scale band (usage code).
Where any significant area needs to be traversed
using ECDIS in RCDS mode, mariners should
critically consider the ability of their ECDIS to
provide an adequate ‘look-ahead’ capability and,
if necessary, acquire appropriate paper charts.
When referring to RNC or appropriate paper charts,
they should be maintained up to date in all cases.
6. SOLAS chart carriage requirement
Until 1 July 2012 (and until 2018 for other ships,
as per the implementation timetable set out in
SOLAS), passenger ships, tankers and cargo ships
of 500 gross tonnage and upwards engaged on
international voyages, have three options to meet
their SOLAS obligations for the carriage of nautical
charts and publications:
i) adequate and up to date paper charts
necessary for the intended voyage; or
ii) a type approved ECDIS operating with ENCs
and a second IMO compliant ECDIS as an
adequate and independent back-up; or
iii) a type approved ECDIS operating with ENC
and with adequate and up to date paper charts
to serve as a back-up necessary to complete
the intended voyage.
7. ECDIS training requirements
The Manila Amendments to the International
Convention on Standards of Training, Certification
and Watchkeeping for Seafarers 1978 (STCW) and
STCW Code will enter into force from 1st January
2012. This will make ECDIS training mandatory
from 1 July 2013 for all officers serving on board
ECDIS fitted ships. All officers in charge of a
navigational watch, both at the management and
operational level, will be required to undertake
ECDIS training, as described below:
7.1 Generic ECDIS training: All masters and
officers in charge of a navigational watch should,
as a minimum, complete generic ECDIS training
that follows IMO Model Course 1.27 and conforms
to the relevant STCW requirements.
7.2 Type specific ECDIS training: In accordance
with IMO Circ. SN.1/Circ 276 (Transitioning
from paper chart to Electronic Chart Display
and Information Systems (ECDIS) navigation)
shipowners and operators should ensure that their
ship masters and navigating officers are provided
with a comprehensive familiarisation programme
and type-specific training. ‘Trickle-down’ training
(i.e. one officer training another) is not acceptable
without a structured and formalised process being
in place to facilitate such training. If the generic
training includes training on the type of ECDIS
equipment installed on board, then the training
documentation must indicate this clearly.
7.3 On board familiarisation: In accordance with
the ISM Code, the company should establish
procedures to ensure that personnel are given
proper familiarisation with their duties and
equipment. ECDIS familiarisation training in
the safe and effective use of shipboard ECDIS
equipment should be clearly documented.
8. Port State control inspections
With a phased carriage requirement for ECDIS
commencing in 2012, AMSA’s PSC inspectors will
increasingly focus on the means by which ships
meet their SOLAS chart carriage requirements and
the effectiveness with which the navigational task
is being conducted.
The following is a list of ECDIS issues which
AMSA’s PSC inspectors pay close attention to:
• appropriate declaration in Form E
• ECDIS type approval certificate, confirming that
the ship’s ECDIS complies with the relevant
IMO performance standards and IEC test

• maintenance of the ECDIS equipment to the
latest applicable IHO standards
• use of ENCs, including their latest editions and
corrections to the latest available notices to
• adequate independent back-up arrangements
(as detailed on Form E), ensuring safe
navigation for the remainder of the voyage in
the event of an ECDIS failure
• documentary evidence of generic and type
specific ECDIS training undertaken by the
master and navigating officers
• evidence of familiarisation training for the use
of ECDIS equipment carried onboard
• documented procedures for navigating officers
using ECDIS
• listing of ECDIS as critical equipment in the
ship’s Safety Management System
• conformance and alignment with input from
sensors (e.g. heading, speed, rate of turn etc.)
and its presentation on the ECDIS display
• evidence of periodic tests and checks of the
ECDIS equipment that need to be carried out
as part of the Safety Management System
• demonstration of operational competency
by the ships navigating officers (e.g. safety
checking of a voyage plan)
9. ECDIS flow charts
The attached flow charts outline ECDIS related
implementation and operational issues and the
related deficiencies that could be invoked by AMSA
PSC inspectors. The assessment of any ECDIS
related deficiencies (along with any remedial
action determined) may vary, depending on the
circumstances of each case.

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