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Industry group voices ECDIS training ‘concerns’

A group of maritime industry organisations has issued a statement highlighting their concerns about levels of competence in ECDIS training.

The statement, issued by the Nautical Institute, is endorsed by Intertanko, IGP&I, OCIMF, The Nautical Institute, BIMCO, InterManager, IFSMA and IMPA.

The group notes that, at the IMO’s 43rd meeting of the STW Sub Committee in May 2012, the initial Model Course 1.27 (2000 Edition) ‘The Operational use of Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS)’ was revised and updated in order to ensure that such courses prepare students adequately for the generic use of ECDIS.

Following this revision, any generic ECDIS courses of less than 40 hours including robust evaluation will not meet STCW requirements.

However, the industry group says that it is concerned that there are Administrations that are accepting courses that do not meet this IMO Guidance, which could cause ECDIS training compliance issues for seafarers and owners.

The group points to the conclusion of a report by the UK P&I Club (ECDIS – Navigational and Claims issues) which suggests that ECDIS-related incidents could lead to new insurance claims.

That report said that: “With traditional damage defences of navigational error, heavy weather and crew negligence now being subjected to additional scrutiny, the ECDIS revolution may be the catalyst which sparks a new cycle in the claims sector and one which may be even more costly than the introduction of the technology itself.”

According to the industry group, the primary change to the model course is a more detailed account of the time needed to address each element of training and assessment.

Other issues from the revision to the Model course highlighted in the statement include:

Part A. Course framework – instructor-trainee ratio limited to 1:12. If more, an assistant instructor is required – minimum qualifications for instructors are included.

Part B. Course outline and timetable are divided into 5 areas with 37 topics totalling 40.0 hours. More prescriptive design (required). Last afternoon includes evaluation – written and simulator.

Part C. Detailed teaching syllabus – Each of the 37 topics are divided into sub-sections, with each prescribing the learning objectives required under that topic; the learning objectives are described more explicitly.

Part D. Instructor manual – guidance for instructors – learning objectives in Parts A, B and C given in better detail so that every topic is covered. Simulator exercises – guidance functions and task groups and expected outcomes.

The statement offers three recommendations for those in the industry that will be affected by these changes.

Flag Administrations are recommended to review their endorsement of training centres delivering generic ECDIS training in accordance with the IMO Model Course.

Shipowners and operators are asked to ensure that any future ECDIS training meets the criteria of the updated model course (1.27 2012 Edition), while mariners are similarly recommended to ensure that any future ECDIS generic courses meet or exceed the new requirements.

A copy of the new Model Course 1.27 (2012 Edition) can be purchased from the IMO website (www.imo.org), or from authorised IMO Publication distributors.

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