The industry gets set to take on board the Electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS)
Electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) having been made acceptable by International Maritime Organization (IMO) for meeting the chart carriage requirements, there has been a lot of apprehension and presentiment among mariners, training institutes, shipping companies, regulatory bodies, flag states, port states, front line manufacturers and others about the training requirements. Endeavoring to put at rest these qualms and also serve as a facilitator in helping to implement the regulation seamlessly, ClassNK last week conducted a seminar for a wide section of the stakeholders highlighting type of the training mariners will have to undergo.
Although at present there is no specific IMO requirement for deck officers to undergo ECDIS type specific training, it is an ISM requirement that ships officers are adequately trained in the use of equipment fitted onboard and a STCW requirement that mariners on vessels are competent to carry out the duties expected of them. Hence, deck officers have to attend an approved generic ECDIS operators’ course based on the IMO standards model (IMO Model Course 1.27 on operational use of ECDIS) and type specific training as provided by the equipment manufacturers or their agents to ensure they are fully familiar with the equipment fitted onboard their vessel.
Maritime authorities of flag states are required to approve the generic training as required by the STCW convention but they are not expected to approve the type specific ECDIS training, which would be done by the classification societies, to extend greater credibility. Leading flag states including that of U.K., Australia and Singapore have taken a lead and already come out with their directives, each one having certain specific requirements relating to the familiarization (type specific training), according to their pattern of operations. India known to play a significant role in IMO training activities has hardly made any progress in this regard, but there is still time for the Indian administration to come up with its directives. This may be one reason why ClassNK decided to fill in the vacuum and help clear the air about any misgivings.
The seminar proved to be a big boon for most stakeholders and brought lot of clarity. It was pointed out that different maritime administrations have different requirements. According to ClassNK, the Generic training based on STCW 2010 would be for five days (40 hours) and the Familiarization training based on ISM Code would be for 2 days (14 hours). Manufacturers of ECDIS must be involved in imparting training. Resources supplied by the ECDIS manufacturers such as CD and DVD could form part of the ECDIS training. With regards computer based training the matter was still under discussion in the IMO and nothing specific was decided. The question of whether an officer who had undergone training, was qualified to train other officers was clarified was clarified that, it was not acceptable, unless he is specially trained as an instructor for imparting training.
ECDIS training approved by ClassNK, which had world-wide authorization offer speedily certification, of high quality and acceptance by port state control and oil majors. Several training institutes, Shipping companies and Shipmanagement companies round the world have already been approved by ClassNK.
ECDIS will go a long way in almost eliminating the chances of ship collision or getting grounded. It will bring about a monumental change of the operation of ship and their navigating pattern. It is only when ships have to navigate in waters where lot of small craft and trawlers such fishing vessels, row boats, barges are involved in various activities that human intervention becomes necessary.