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UK MCA removes type-specific ECDIS training requirement

Ship operators will need to be satisfied that officers are properly familiarised with ECDIS equipment under the new rules Ship operators will need to be satisfied that officers are properly familiarised with ECDIS equipment under the new rules

The UK’s Maritime and Coastguard agency (MCA) has removed its requirement for ECDIS Ship Specific Equipment Training in its latest Marine Information Note (MIN 503).

{mprestriction ids="1,2"}The new MIN 503 replaces MIN 442, which had detailed the type of training that is acceptable for Masters and Deck Officers of UK registered vessels which have ECDIS as their primary means of navigation.

Up to now, it was deemed necessary to attend a training course for each different system that the Master or Navigation Officer was expected to operate, which had to be delivered by the manufacturer, the manufacturer’s approved agent or a trainer who has attended such a programme.

Trickle down training (i.e. one officer training another) was expressly noted as not being acceptable for this training “as, inevitably, it leads to incomplete knowledge of the equipment’s capabilities, and especially the lesser used functions, being passed on,” according to MIN 442.

However, this requirement has now been replaced in MIN 503, with MCA stating that, while ECDIS ship specific equipment training for Deck Officers must relate to the make and model of the equipment fitted onboard the ship which they are currently serving, the decision on how to deliver that training is now the responsibility of the ship owner or operator.

In essence, this has shifted the requirement away from attendance at a manufacturer-approved course and passed the burden on to the vessel operator, who must be satisfied that navigators are adequately trained on the ECDIS they will operate but no longer need to have them attend a specific course.

This follows the wording of the ISM code and the STCW convention, which both place the onus on the shipping company to make sure that their navigating officers are properly familiarised with the ECDIS equipment they will operate at sea.

David Patraiko, ‎director of projects at The Nautical Institute, has welcomed the news, and believes that it is likely to actually increase the level of competence among ECDIS users.

“Although this decision will save a lot of effort by shipowners not needing to send their crews all over the world to train on all different makes and models of ECDIS, it is not an easy option at all,” he told us.

“Shipowners will need to ensure that their crews are able to demonstrate all the competencies outlined in the Industry Guidelines, all the time – that may be to PSC inspectors, Class surveyors, P&I and to internal auditors.”

“This will be a considerable task but should lead to the safer use of ECDIS in the long run.”{/mprestriction}

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