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Industry group issues ECDIS training recommendations

The Nautical Institute has published a set of ‘Industry Recommendations for ECDIS Training’, with the aim of addressing what it calls “confusion” with regard to ECDIS training.

This guidance document has been issued by an industry group made up of a number of international shipping industry organisations, coordinated by The Nautical Institute.

These organisations include BIMCO, GlobalMET, International Federation of Ship Masters’ Associations, International Group of P&I Clubs, International Maritime Pilots’ Association, International Chamber of Shipping, Intermanager, Intertanko, International Shipping Federation, Marine Accident Investigators’ International Forum, and OCIMF.

The guidance note covers issues of training and competency for ECDIS and offers an interpretation of IMO requirements for ECDIS training.

The Nautical Institute says that discrepancies have arisen between flag states’ regulations and training that is aimed at meeting the IMO standards, and that these discrepancies have led to a concern that training might risk not meeting the minimum standards – something it says is of great concern to the shipping industry.

There are two key dates for ECDIS this year – in January 2012 ECDIS training regulations came into force as part of the STCW 2010 Manila amendments and, from July 2012, mandatory carriage requirements start to be phased in.

The organisations supporting this guidance say that they want the industry to understand that ECDIS must be taught in the context of navigation, rather than just ECDIS operation, and that ship owners and operators will require those who have taken generic training to be capable of demonstrating, in full, the competencies required by the IMO.

The shipping organisations that have endorsed this guidance are demanding a thorough generic training course (unlikely to be less than the IMO recommended 40 hours) and effective familiarisation of onboard equipment for all watchkeepers prior to taking charge of a navigational watch.

They have also emphasised the need for watchstanders to demonstrate all IMO identified competencies and to maintain these competencies – including familiarisation with any updates or alterations.

“ECDIS is a complex system and will be one of the most essential tools for supporting mariners in their efforts to ensure the safety of navigation and protection of the marine environment,” commented James Robinson, president of The Nautical Institute.

“Shipowners must not assume that an ECDIS course certificate is enough to ensure safety and shipmasters should work with their bridge teams to ensure that ECDIS best practice and company procedures for familiarisation and use of the ECDIS are continually maintained.”

The guidance also makes recommendations to ensure that watchkeepers remain competent and that other industry stakeholders such as trainers, inspectors and auditors are capable of assessing such competence.

A copy of the ‘Industry Recommendations for ECDIS Training’ is available on The Nautical Institute's ECDIS forum at www.nautinst.org/ECDIS.

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