News 04 Apr, 2012

SOLAS - ECDIS Data Presentation Checks

Following a number of navigational incidents during 2011 it has been found that some older models of Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) using Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs) are unable to display the latest IMO approved chart features, such as particularly sensitive sea areas and archipelagic sea lanes.

In order for ECDIS users to ascertain whether or not their equipment is working correctly, the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO) has produced two fictitious ENC datasets that ECDIS operators can use to check the operation of the system by comparing the chart symbols displayed on their ECDIS units against those shown on the instruction sheet.

The fictitious ENC datasets were made available to users by ENC providers in October / November 2011 along with routine chart updates. However, according to Maritime and Coastguard Agency Marine Information Note (MIN 426) “ECDIS Testing for Apparent Anomalies“, only around 400 responses have been sent to IHO for analysis as a result of users running the data presentation checks. This compares with between 4,000 and 7,000 ECDIS units in use world-wide. The low response figure suggests that there may be a substantial number of ECDIS units which have not yet been checked.

Members with ECDIS equipped vessels that still need to check their software for such anomalies are advised to do so at the earliest opportunity and to report their findings to IHO no later than 30 April 2012. IHO will analyse the data and provide guidance to IMO, National Hydrographic Offices and ECDIS manufacturers so that appropriate corrective action can be taken.

If use of the fictitious ENC datasets gives rise to ECDIS software concerns, these must be highlighted to all personnel that may operate the equipment. Any identified deficiencies must be managed by introducing additional safeguards so that the required chart data is readily available until the ECDIS software can be fully updated. It is further recommended that Members ensure that ECDIS software updates are routinely obtained from the manufacturer and are installed on all ECDIS units throughout their fleets thereafter, as required by IMO SN.1/Circ.266/Rev.1 “Maintenance of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) Software”.

The fictitious ENC datasets along with detailed instructions for carrying out the checks and reporting the results to IHO can be downloaded from the IHO website.

Members requiring further guidance are advised to contact the Loss Prevention department.