Shipowners Beware! ECDIS Noncompliant Ships can be Detained


Shipowners and managers need to be aware that port state control may be hot on ECDIS and electronic navigational charts (ENCs) from September this year. You could see ships detained for not having compliant ECDIS and updated ENCs – if the industry has not actively updated onboard safety navigation systems.

Regulation comes into force:

The International Hydrographic Organization’s new standards for ECDIS and ENCs comes into force from 1 September and the old standards will not be compliant from that date.

The warning has been there for the industry to take notice for some time and owners have had plenty of time to ensure they are up-to-speed on ECDIS. There has already been a year’s postponement of the new standard rules, to allow the manufacturers to ensure their ECDIS meets the standards.

Vessel to comply with latest standards:

The time has also been given to shipowners, managers and operators to ensure the existing models on vessels comply with the latest standards. As IHO’s updated equipment and chart presentation standards cover all systems and ships with ECDIS regardless of when they were installed.

Because the industry has had plenty of time, and a year’s delay, to get itself sorted on these changes, my opinion is that port state control inspectors will not have much sympathy on those that have not prepared.

Less than three months for installation:

Owners have less than three months to install ECDIS updates, replace not compliant equipment and train crew on any new features and equipment. Software updates will be required on existing ECDIS and even some recently installed units. Although the majority of the new models will already be compliant to updated IHO standards.

So for those who do not already know about this, here are those standards in summary:

  • Edition 6.1 of the S-52 standard covering the specifications for chart content and display aspects of ECDIS, including the presentation library
  • Edition 4.0 of the presentation library on ECDIS
  • Edition 3.0.1 of S-64, covering the test data sets for ECDIS

Class society Lloyd’s Register recently reminded the industry to update software on ECDIS, or contact the manufacturer or supplier to ensure their onboard equipment complies with the latest IHO standards by the required date.

There is a worry that many shipowners have not tackled these requirement and could have issues with port state control from September. Most flag administrations are treating these updates as mandatory for the safety of navigation.

While, port state control authorities have told owners that they need to be able to show inspectors that ECDIS meets the new IHO standards and they are loaded with the latest ENCs. This means the crew can actively demonstrate their knowledge of the system and its setup to inspectors.

Non-compliance vessels advised to contact ship admin:

Lloyd’s Register said that shipowners and managers unable to update existing ECDIS because equipment on board is not compatible with the latest IHO Standards, or no software upgrades are available, should contact the vessel’s flag administration for advice on the further actions needed.

Their advice is likely to be: replace the older ECDIS units as soon as possible with the latest models that do comply with the updated IHO standards. An investment that many shipping companies would rather postpone.

Lloyd’s Register continued to recommend that if ECDIS software is upgraded, then this should be confirmed at the next scheduled safety equipment survey of the vessel. If hardware is to be changed, this should be conducted under survey at the time of the upgrade. However, there is not much time for upgrading existing systems that still operate on the older IHO standards as these become non-compliant from 31 August.

Agencies warned:

Owners need to be warned that ships sailing with non-compliant ECDIS could be detained by port state control inspectors. There could also be detentions if bridge teams using ECDIS are not familiar with the main operations and functions on the updated software and hardware.

Shipowners have been warned. Ensure your fleet is compliant for 1 September, or expect ship detentions.

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Source: Marine Electronics & Communications