Nautical Institute issues industry-backed ECDIS training guidance

The Nautical Institute has issued "Industry Recommendations for ECDIS Training," a guidance that helps interpret IMO requirements for ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System) training.

Last month, ECDIS training became required under amendments to the STCW convention and from July this year mandatory ECDIS carriage requirements start to be phase in.

Discrepancies have arisen between flag states' regulations and training aimed at meeting the IMO standards. This has led to a concern that training might risk not meeting the minimum standards – something of great concern to the shipping industry.

The guidance published today aims to address confusion about ECDIS training. It has been issued by an industry group made up of leading international shipping industry organizations and organized and coordinated by the Nautical Institute. Group members 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.

The organizations supporting the guidance want it understood that ECDIS must be taught in the context of navigation, rather than just ECDIS operation. Shipowners and operators will require those who have taken generic training to be capable of demonstrating, in full, the competencies required by the IMO.

The organizations that have endorsed the guidance are demanding a thorough generic training course (unlikely to be less than the IMO recommended 40 hours) and effective familiarization with onboard equipment for all watchkeepers prior to taking charge of a navigational watch. The industry has emphasized the need for watch-standers to demonstrate all IMO identified competencies and to maintain these competencies – including familiarization with any updates or alterations.

The Nautical Institute President James Robinson says: "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 ship masters should work with their bridge teams to ensure that ECDIS best practice and company procedures for familiarization 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.


A copy of the Industry Recommendations for ECDIS Training is available on the Nautical Institute's ECDIS forum at www.nautinst.org/ECDIS.

February 15, 2012