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IMO fails to move on mandatory ECDIS

  • Friday, 03 August 2007 | News

Discussions at the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) safety of navigation sub-committee meetings at the end of July have failed to produce any firm decisions on whether electronic chart display information systems (ECDIS) should be made a mandatory fit for oceangoing vessels.

Proposals from Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden had argued that coverage of electronic navigational charts (ENC) was now good enough to require passenger ships over 500 gt and tankers over 3,000 dwt to carry the equipment, with the aim of improving safety at sea, from the beginning of 2010 onwards.

Japan supplemented this proposal with its own suggestion that new ships of 10,000 gt or greater should carry mandatory ECDIS, with existing ships also being required to fit the equipment over the next three to five years.

These arguments were strengthened by an in-depth research project recently conducted by Det Norske Veritas (DNV), which declared that the use of ECDIS would reduce the frequency of groundings for most types of vessels by more than one-third.

DNV CEO Henrik Madsen said that he believed these results proved that ECDIS should be made a mandatory requirement for the shipping industry, and it was hoped that some movement on the issue might be seen at IMO level.

However, these arguments failed to sway all of the member countries at the sub-committee meetings. Discussions on the issue of mandatory ECDIS are now scheduled to be revisited at next year's meeting of the navigation subcommittee.

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