February 21 - The Nautical Institute has published Industry Recommendations for ECDIS Training to address confusion in regard to Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) training.
The guidance has been issued by an industry group made up of leading international shipping industry organisations and organised and coordinated by The Nautical Institute.
The guidance covers issues of training and competency for ECDIS and helps interpret IMO requirements for ECDIS training. The Nautical Institute says that iscrepancies have arisen between flag states' regulations and training that is aimed at meeting the IMO standards. Such discrepancy has led to a concern that training might risk not meeting the minimum standards - something of great concern to the shipping industry.
There are two key dates for ECDIS this year - in January 2012 ECDIS Training came into force as part of theSTCW 2010 Manila amendments and, from July 2012, mandatory carriage requirements start to be phased in.
The organisations supporting this guidance want the industry to understand that ECDIS must be taught in the context of navigation, rather than just ECDIS operation. Ship owners and operators will require those who have taken generic training to be capable of demonstrating, in full, the competencies required by the IMO.
Leading shipping organisations have now endorsed this guidance demanding a thorough generic training course (unlikely to be less than the IMO recommended 40 hours) and effective familiarisation of onboard equipment for all watchkeepers prior to taking charge of a navigational watch. The industry has emphasised the need for watch-standers to demonstrate all IMO identified competencies and to maintain these competencies - including familiarisation with any updates or alterations.
James Robinson DSM FNI Irish Navy (Retired), President of The Nautical Institute, commented: "ECDIS is a complex system and will be one of the most essential tools for supporting mariners in their efforts to ensure the safety of navigation and protection of the marine environment. Shipowners must not assume that an ECDIS course certificate is enough to ensure safety and Shipmasters should work with their bridge teams to ensure that ECDIS best practice and company procedures for familiarisation and use of the ECDIS are continually maintained".
The guidance also makes recommendations to ensure that watchkeepers remain competent and that other industry stakeholders such as trainers, inspectors and auditors are capable of assessing such competence.
The organisations supporting this guidance are: BIMCO, GlobalMET, International Federation of Ship Masters' Associations, International Group of P&I Clubs, International Maritime Pilots' Association, International Chamber of Shipping, Intermanager, Intertanko, International Shipping Federation, Marine Accident Investigators' International Forum, The Nautical Institute and OCIMF.
A copy of the Industry Recommendations for ECDIS Training is available on The Nautical Institute's ECDIS forum at www.nautinst.org/ECDIS