IMO NAV 51 - Evaluation of the use of the Electronic Chart Display Information System (ECDIS) and Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC)

One of the working groups held this week during the 51st session of the IMO Sub-committee on Safety of Navigation (NAV 51) was a technical working group on the evaluation of the use of the ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display Information System), and the ENC (Electronic Navigational Chart). Various elements were reviewed and discussed.  

One item in particular which caused much debate during the week regarded the "possibility" of mandatory carriage requirements for ECDIS under SOLAS. The group noted the instructions given in the plenary session and contained within the terms of reference for the group "to consider a phased in implementation of a possible carriage requirement for ECDIS". However, when reviewing the group’s report a lot of confusion arose as to whether the above given terms of reference for the group were correct or not regarding “possible” carriage requirements. The group reported, however, that this issue was not currently on the Navigation Sub-committee’s work programme but agreed, in principle, that should a decision be made by the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) to create a work programme item for the carriage requirement for ECDIS, then the draft as proposed by the correspondence group for a phased in approach for differing ship types was appropriate. The group also reported that in their view there should be a FSA (Formal Safety Assessment) on the use of ECDIS on ships other than high speed craft and large passenger ships prior to any discussion on possible carriage requirements and that the outcome of the FSA would be taken into account when developing any proposals for a carriage requirement. 

It was also agreed that the FSA should look at (but not be limited to) the following factors: clarification of the current regulatory regime and performance standards, ENC coverage and ease of availability and training, and familiarity requirements appropriate to ECDIS.  

Support was also expressed for the IHO (International Hydrographic Society) to develop an online catalogue of available official charts, which the group felt should also include the availability of ENCs, the availability of RNCs (Raster Navigation Charts), the availability of official paper charts (as defined by SOLAS Chapter V, Regulation 2.2) and a list of charts compiled by inputs from coastal states as “appropriate folio of paper charts”. 

The Sub-committee also proposed draft amendments to SOLAS 1974, Chapter V, Regulation 19, to amend the footnote to paragraph 2.1.5 to read: "Paper nautical charts sufficient to meet the requirements of sub-paragraph .4 and regulation 27 may be used as a back-up arrangement for ECDIS. Other back-up arrangements for ECDIS are acceptable (see Appendix 6 to Resolution A.817 (19) as amended)". 

Contact: Howard Snaith