Nov 262014
 

Support our training video crowdfunder based on this incident here

All the key ingredients for a navigational accident were in place long before the Malta-flagged oil and chemical tanker Ovit grounded on the Varne Bank in the Dover Strait in the early morning darkness of 18 September 2013. The report on the incident from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch, MAIB, identifies several layers of factors, not all of them on the bridge of the Ovit, that led to the grounding without which it would not have occurred.

The vessel was equipped with a Maris 900 ECDIS supplied and installed by STT Marine Electronics in Istanbul. An installation certificate issued on 1 April 2011 indicates that all systems had been properly configured and tested. They had not.

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Jul 132012
 

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

On 1 July, new mandatory IMO requirements for Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems, ECDIS entered in force, something which the International Chamber of Shipping has long supported provided that sufficient electronic navigation chart availability could be met before the phased-in carriage requirements first become effective.

Says ICS “Disturbingly it has become apparent that not all ECDIS systems may be fully effective, with the International Hydrographic Organization, IHO, advising that some systems have reportedly failed to display significant underwater features in the ‘Standard’ display mode, necessitating the continued use of paper charts”. Continue reading »

Mar 012012
 

View of ECDIS and position of bridge team

Lack of ECDIS-specific training, poorly placed bridge equipement and a master’s lack of support for an inexperienced third officer played key roles in the grounding of CSL Thames, a Maltese registered self-discharging bulk carrier, which grounded briefly in the Sound of Mull on  9 August 2011. An investigation report has now been published by the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch.

At 1026 (UTC +1) on 9 August 2011, CSL Thames, a Maltese registered self-discharging bulk carrier, grounded briefly in the Sound of Mull while on passage from Glensanda to Wilhelmshaven. The vessel sustained bottom damage to her hull, including a 3-metre fracture to one of her water ballast deep tanks, which flooded. There were no reported injuries or pollution.

The MAIB investigation found that CSL Thames ran aground after the third officer had altered the vessel’s course to starboard of the planned track to avoid another vessel. He did not notice that the alteration would take CSL Thames into shallow water, and the audio alarm on the electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) that should have alerted him to the impending danger was inoperative. Further, the master’s and other watchkeepers’ knowledge of the vessel’s ECDIS was insufficient and therefore no-one within the bridge team questioned the absence of the ECDIS audio alarm, or recognised that the system’s safety contour setting was inappropriate for the planned voyage.

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Dec 292010
 
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ECDIS: IMO wants glitches fixed

Operating ‘anomalies’ have been identified within some CDIS Systems says the International Maritime Organisation, IMO, which is looking for feedback on the issue.

In a recent circular the IMO says: “The Maritime Safety Committee, at its eighty-eighth session (24 November to 3 December 2010), was informed of anomalies in the operation of some ECDIS systems relating to display and alarm behaviour in particular system configurations. The anomalies were discovered by the inspection of ENCs within a small number of ECDIS systems and the committee considered it possible that other anomalies remain to be discovered… Given the widespread use and the impending implementation of the ECDIS carriage requirement, the Committee considered it important that any anomalies identified by mariners are reported to and investigated by the appropriate authorities to ensure their resolution.

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Nov 072010
 

John Clandillon-Baker at Pilot Magazine is running an absorbing multi-part series on electronic chart display and information systems that is a must-read.  The question is perhaps, not merely whether navigational officers have the competence but whether the training industry has the capability to fulfill the need.

MAC’s concern is that given the money involved we’re going to see a lot of training in the market producing certificates that are not worth the paper they’re printed on while at the same time meeting requirements for ‘compliance.

Here’s John’s introduction:

“I have now piloted around 20 vessels which are navigating solely on ECDIS with no paper charts and only on four of these have I found all officers fully conversant with the functions and confident that they could safely navigate their vessel without the familiar paper chart as a back up. Somewhat unsurprisingly these four vessels were Scandinavian tankers from the top companies and all the officers had attended type specific courses for their particular ECDIS in addition to the generic ECDIS course offered by the training colleges. However, in contrast to these examples of “best practice”, on five of these vessels there was only one officer who understood the ECDIS and its functions and on all of these this was the second officer and he alone seemed to be totally responsible for planning the voyage and plotting the route on the ECDIS. So far as I could ascertain, none of the officers, including the 2nd Officer, on these ships had received any type specific training but had been expected to glean the full operating functions of their particular ECDIS from the manufacturer’s manual. The manuals from all the manufacturers seem to run to 500 pages or more so it’s hardly surprising that responsibility for wading through it and getting to grips with the functions is delegated to the 2nd Mate who is officer traditionally responsible for chartwork and navigation. Of the remainder of the vessels Admittedly 20 ships is a very small sample and my data collection methodology probably wouldn’t stand up to scrutiny but as a very rough indicator it would suggest that 20% of vessels have good understanding and good procedures in place, 60% have a reasonable working knowledge but worryingly around 20% are at high risk of being involved in a navigational incident either as a result of ignorance of the ECDIS features of display modes or as a result of single person error by the navigating officer in planning the passage. This may seem an alarming statement but the dangers are real.”

Will ECDIS Ground?

ECDIS and Incompetence

ECDIS and Training Might Have Prevented Rosethorn Grounding

Shoal Thing -ENC Producers Didn’t Get It

The Electronic Navigators

Put The Tardis Next To The ECDIS?


Oct 262010
 

Who will train them?

By the middle of 2011 so-called certificates of competency in operating electronic chart display and information systems, ECDIS will become mandatory. Good news for training providers but will there be enough experienced seafarers to provide that training? Mal Instone Director of Operations & Standards for ECDIS Ltd., believes a teaching crisis is on the horizon and it may take years to resolve.

No-one can deny the practical usefulness of a properly operated ECDIS. With some 32 systems currently available and at least another two being developed to join them, all with different menu systems and with information capabilities that exceed the need to know, that usefulness could be compromised, especially given the shortage of experienced people to train navigational officers.

Instone tells MAC: “I cannot speak for other training providers, but we think that there is going to be a huge demand for this training and limited supply. One of the biggest problems is that few trainers have the relevant sea experience operating with ECDIS, and this is not likely to change for a number of years”.

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Mar 292010
 
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Dr Andy Norris

The Nautical Institute has launched ECDIS and Positioning, by Dr Andy Norris CNI to provide mariners a grounding in all aspects of ECDIS and the use of electronic charts.

ECDIS and Positioning, the second volume of Dr Norris’s Integrated Bridge Systems series, helps paper chart-taught officers to make ECDIS work for them. It also helps new entrants to the industry, who may be more familiar with Google Earth, to understand how to use the system within accepted navigational principles.

Institute President Captain Richard Coates FNI expressed concern about the “inadequacy” of ECDIS training. “Despite the long use of satellite systems for positioning and the imminent mandating of electronic charts in 2012, there is little information written for the mariner concerning the practical use of these technologies,” he said. “Many are grappling with the problems of using electronic charts and ECDIS after being trained on paper charts.”

ECDIS and Positioning by Dr Andy Norris CNI, ISBN: 978 1 906915 11 7, price £40, is available from The Nautical Institute www.nautinst.org

Mar 282010
 

imageSteamship Mutual has issued a new Risk Alert to cover ECDIS implementation requirements.

Since 2002 it has been an option for vessels to be fitted with an Electronic Chart Display and Information System, ECDIS, along with a backup arrangement as a means of fulfilling the requirement under SOLAS regulation V/19-2.1.4 for the vessel to carry nautical charts for the
intended voyage. This option is now being changed into a mandatory requirement as at a meeting of the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in May / June 2009 further amendments to SOLAS regulation V/19 were made to make the carriage of ECDIS mandatory on vessels engaged in international voyages with an expected date of entry into force of 1st January 2011.

Download the Risk Alert Here

Mar 252010
 
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Ada Lovelace, enchantress of numbers

When it’s quiet on the bridge pop over to the ECDIS or AIS and say “Thanks, Ada Lovelace”, especially if there’s a female officer on the bridge. Who was she? And why should you.

Ada Lovelace was a remarkable mathematician, and daughter of Lord Byron, who wrote the first computer program and was the first person to actually write about computers and what today we call software. All the stuff that makes your ECDIS and AIS work.

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