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IMO action on ECDIS anomalies welcomed

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation's decision to take action to address operating anomalies with ECDIS has been welcomed by The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS), which it hopes will help to get to grips with this “serious problem.”

On 1 July 2012, the phasing in period for new mandatory IMO requirements for ECDIS began, something which ICS says it has long supported provided that sufficient Electronic Navigation Chart availability could be met before the phased-in carriage requirements first become effective.

However, the Chamber notes that “disturbingly, it has become apparent that not all ECDIS systems may be fully effective”, pointing to the International Hydrographic Organization's recent study which found that only one-third of ECDIS were functioning as expected.

IHB has advised ship operators that some systems have reportedly failed to display significant underwater features in the ‘Standard’ display mode, necessitating the continued use of paper charts.

This issue formed part of the agenda at the recent 58th session of IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation (NAV), and it has been agreed that the secretary-general of IMO will meet with ECDIS manufacturers to discuss the ECDIS anomalies, with the aim of providing guidance to shipping companies and seafarers.

Workshops will also be held by IHO at IMO, including stakeholders such as IMO and IHO member states, data service providers, ECDIS manufacturers, type-testing authorities and seafarers’ organisations, to discuss appropriate action for the future.

It was also noted at this meeting that the IMO ECDIS Model Course had been updated and validated by STW 43, and will be published soon, as will an SN Circular entitled ‘Operating Anomalies identified within ECDIS’.

“ICS welcomes IMO's recognition of the problem and its development of a circular providing advice on the issue to mariners, with a meeting with ECDIS manufacturers planned for September that will hopefully get to the root of this serious problem,” commented ICS director marine, John Murray.

“But in view of the potential danger presented by ECDIS operating anomalies, ICS will continue to monitor the situation very closely.”

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