Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS)

Overview of carriage requirements and training requirements

The purpose of this overview is to provide information on the carriage requirements of ECDIS and on ECDIS training requirements.

Attention: Australia uses derogatory demands. The document ‘Guidance on ECDIS for ships calling at Australian ports’ below on this page contains the Australian demands.

Carriage requirements for ECDIS

The International Maritime Organization (IMO), at the 86th session of the Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) in June 2009, approved amendments to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requiring ships to be fitted with an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS). The amendment to SOLAS means that all large passenger-, tanker- and cargo ships will be required to be fitted with ECDIS on a rolling timetable that begins in July 2012:

  Size New ship* Existing ship**
Passenger ≥500 gross tons 1 July 2012 No later than 1st survey after 1 July 2014
Tankers ≥3,000 gross tons 1 July 2012 No later than 1st survey after 1 July 2015
Dry cargo ≥50,000 gross tons 1 July 2013 No later than 1st survey after 1 July 2016
  ≥20,000 gross tons 1 July 2013 No later than 1st survey after 1 July 2017
  ≥10,000 gross tons 1 July 2013 No later than 1st survey after 1 July 2018
  ≥3,000 gross tons 1 July 2014 Not required

 * A new ship is defined as one in which the keel is laid on or after the cut-off date.
** Ships may be exempted from these requirements if they will be taken permanently out of service within two years of the implementation date specified.

Chart carriage requirements

The new regulation 19.2.1.4 reads as follows: '.4 nautical charts and nautical publications to plan and display the ship’s route for the intended voyage and to plot and monitor positions throughout the voyage. An electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) is also accepted as meeting the chart carriage requirements of this subparagraph. Ships to which paragraph 2.10 applies shall comply with the carriage requirements for ECDIS detailed therein.'
Regulation 19.2.1.5 remains unchanged: 'Back-up arrangements to meet the functional requirements of subparagraph .4, if this function is partly or fully fulfilled by electronic means.'
New regulation 19.2.10 outlines the implementation dates as depicted above and the new regulation 19.2.11 permits Administrations to exempt ships from the application of paragraph 2.10 when such ships will be taken permanently out of service within two years after the implementation date specified in subparagraphs .5 to .9 of paragraph 2.10

'Paperless navigation' on board vessels flying the Dutch Flag

Dutch equivalent arrangement concerning ECDIS: XQ 9818 elaborates on the back-up arrangements which are required in the event that ECDIS is used as primary means of navigation. It should be noted that the equivalency lies in the fact that the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate is of the opinion that if a ship is equipped with a second ECDIS, as back-up for the primary ECDIS, this second ECDIS can be accepted as an alternative for the appropriate portfolio of paper charts when sailing in the RCDS-mode in waters for which only RNC’s are available.

Furthermore it should be noted that ECDIS installations installed on or after 1-1-2009 shall comply with MSC.232(82). ECDIS installations installed before 1-1-2009 shall at least be in compliance with IMO Res.A.817(19).

Finally, attention is drawn to the fact that also if a vessel is equipped with two independent, type-approved ECDIS systems with 100% ENC coverage for subject vessel’s trading area, the total configuration shall be in
compliance with the Dutch equivalent arrangement concerning ECDIS: XQ 9818.

Assessment and certification of 'paperless navigation'

Ship owners opting for the application of the Dutch equivalent arrangement concerning ECDIS: XQ 9818 on board of vessels flying the Dutch Flag, shall submit all relevant information to their Classification Society in order for them to assess whether the requirements for 'paperless navigation' are met. In addition, the Classification Society will conduct a survey on board to verify whether the installation has been installed as per the submitted documentation.

As far as the certification is concerned, compliance with the Dutch equivalent arrangement concerning ECDIS: XQ 9818 is indicated by means of the Cargo Ship Safety Certificate: Under 2.2 of  'Details of navigational systems and equipment' of the 'Record of Equipment for the Cargo Ship Safety Certificate,'  the provision of 'Back-up arrangements for ECDIS' are checked off and a reference to the Dutch equivalent arrangement concerning ECDIS: XQ 9818 is included. It is advisable to attach a copy of the Dutch equivalent concerning ECDIS: XQ 9818 to the Record of Equipment for the Cargo Ship Safety Certificate.

ECDIS training requirements

In order to satisfy the requirements of the STCW’95 Convention and the ISM Code, a Shipping Company is obliged to ensure that bridge officers undergo effective ECDIS training.
Currently a concrete legal base for formal approval of an ECDIS course by the Flagstate does not exist.
In view of the forthcoming Manilla Amendments and the new ECDIS carriage requirements in Chapter V of SOLAS, ECDIS training will be incorporated in the curriculum of the nautical colleges. It is up to the Flagstate to decide whether 'existing' officers in charge of a navigational watch will be obliged to still undergo an approved ECDIS course.

In this respect it should be noted that the Dutch Government is currently in the process of effectuating the details resulting from the gap analysis, in order to determine whether it is necessary to bring existing officers up to standard.
Until then it is the shipowner's responsibility, under the applicable section of the ISM Code and the STCW’95 Convention to ensure that all officers in charge of a navigational watch have attended effective training in the use of ECDIS.

The Sub-Committee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping at its forty-third session (30 April to 4 May 2012), considered the need for guidance on ECDIS training. This is reflected in STCW.7/Circ.18 of 22 May 2012.

Although not specified in the STCW’95 Code, as amended, ship owners are urged to distinguish between 'ECDIS generic training' and 'ECDIS type specific training.' In this respect particular attention is drawn to paragraph 1.4 of Regulation I/14 of the STCW Convention which obliges ship owners  to ensure that seafarers on being assigned to any of its ships are familiarised with all specific ship installations and arrangements. Typically a type-specific ECDIS training could be provided by the manufacturer and would not require a Flagstate approval. The 'generic ECDIS training' is covered by the courses which have been recognized by the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate.

Assessment of ECDIS training courses

Upon request, the Netherlands Shipping Inspectorate formally assesses ECDIS courses conducted by Nautical Institutes in the Netherlands, and upon positive evaluation issues a 'Letter of Recognition.'

For the course content and course program the following standards apply:

  • IMO model course 1.27
  • STCW.7/Circ.10
  • MSC 232(82) (ECDIS performance standards, STCW.7/Circ.10 specifically refers to this)

For the simulator the following standard applies:

  • Internal IT-guideline in Dutch (almost fully based on the DNV standard)

For the quality system the following standard applies:

  • EU guideline 2008/106/EC