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A year-long research project carried out by accident investigators in the UK and Denmark has delivered some stark warnings about the safety of electronic chart display and information systems…
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) is set to face calls for sweeping changes to the rules governing the use of electronic chart display and information systems (ECDIS) following in-depth research into the problems experienced by masters and ofﬁcers.
A major safety study undertaken by the UK and Danish marine investigation authorities has highlighted major concerns over the design and operation of ECDIS and signiﬁcant shortfalls in the way in which seafarers are training to use the systems.
The study was undertaken in response to a series of accidents – mainly groundings – over the past decade in which investigations revealed 'a mismatch between the way ECDIS was used and the way regulators and the systems manufacturers expected it to be used'.
In a paper presented to the IMO, the investigation bodies provided some 'headline' ﬁndings from the study ahead of its publication later this year.
The report notes that seafarers consider that ECDIS contributes to safe navigation by reducing the workload of the bridge team and providing real-time positioning.
'However,' it adds, 'it is clear that there are wide variations in the way that ECDIS is used due to, among other things, ship function, bridge equipment and ergonomics, manning, the degree of integration with other sensors, the requirements of safety management systems, the knowledge and familiarisation of operators, and the ECDIS model ﬁtted.'
The paper points to a reliance upon training and familiarisation to overcome issues around system complexity and the lack of standardisation and warns that ‘many of the training strategies currently adopted appear to fall short of individual expectations and requirements.
There are wide variations in the way that ECDIS is used due to, among other things, ship function, bridge equipment and ergonomics, manning, the degree of integration with other sensors, the requirements of safety management systems, the knowledge and familiarisation of operators, and the ECDIS model ﬁtted