U.K. Reverses ECDIS Training Rule

picture credit ECDIS Ltd

Published Jun 4, 2015 4:08 AM by Wendy Laursen

The U.K Maritime & Coastguard Agency has revised its stance on type specific ECDIS training, stating that the decision on how to deliver the training is now the responsibility of the shipowner or operator.

Marine Information Note 503 (M) reverses Port State Control Committee Instruction 47/2014/15 requiring the completion of both generic and ship specific ECDIS training for the master and navigational officers of U.K. flagged vessels.

The Manila Amendments to STCW (which include the use of ECDIS to maintain the safety of navigation as a required competence) came into force on January 1, 2012 and the mandatory carriage of ECDIS began to phase in from July 1, 2012.

ECDIS can be complex and with the best intention some administrations have advised or required mariners to be trained by manufacturers - so that they are familiar with the ECDIS on board, says David Patraiko, Director of Projects for The Nautical Institute. 

However there is nothing in any IMO documentation that requires or mentions type specific training, and the industry believes there are other ways to ensure familiarization, he says.  

The emphasis now will be on demonstrating familiarization as required by STCW and the ISM Code. The marine information note states: “Instructions which are essential to be provided prior to sailing should be identified, documented and given.”

“This will most likely have a huge impact on the industry where crews have had to be sent all over the world to attend manufacturer training courses prior to joining ships. This should not become the “easy” option, but if enforced effectively, should be a more effective way forward,” says Patraiko.

The change of stance brings the U.K. in line with the Industry Training Guidance published by The Nautical Institute in 2012. This guidance includes the recommendations:

•    All watchkeeping officers must be competent in the use of the onboard ECDIS prior to taking charge of a navigational watch. An implicit element of continual competence is the ability to demonstrate that competence. 
•    Familiarization pertains to any ECDIS onboard including any backup systems. This includes any pertinent information required for the safe operation of the ECDIS including all updates and alterations. 
•    Focus should be upon achieving and demonstrating the necessary competencies, rather than time spent on training or achieving certification alone. 
•    There are a wide range of training methods and tools available that can be used, alone or in combination, to contribute to a navigator’s competency. 
•    Familiarization should be structured, specific to the onboard equipment and its arrangements and should be complementary to generic ECDIS training.

Picture credit: ECDIS Ltd