A guidance paper has been published by Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF to prevent poor navigation causing vessel accidents and marine pollution
OCIMF was so concerned with the risk of a serious maritime accident involving tankers, gas carriers or offshore support vessels crashing that it produced an information paper with recommendations on improving navigation.
Its Recommendations on Usage of ECDIS and Preventing Incidents provides guidance to enhance policies and procedures regarding the safe use of ECDIS.
This is published after a decade of rising navigational incidents caused partially because of poor use, or set-up of ECDIS and electronic navigational charts (ENCs), or a lack of familiarisation with this bridge technology.
One of the most reported ECDIS-related accidents was the grounding of oil and chemical tanker Ovit on the Varne Bank in the English Channel in September 2013. This occurred due to inaccurate alarms and chart settings on ECDIS and a lack of bridge team training and situational awareness.
A more recent example was the grounding of gas tanker Pazifik off Indonesia in July 2018, which was carrying a cargo of 18,000 tonnes of ammonia.
Germany’s Federal Bureau of Maritime Casualty Investigation concluded from its investigation into this accident, that the tanker’s ECDIS was not set correctly, ENCs failed to accurately indicate the shoal hazard and crew had difficulty in understanding symbols on ECDIS. This was despite inclusion in OCIMF charter contracts of requirements for specific settings on ECDIS for collision avoidance.
Tanker and LNG carrier owners also need to ensure ECDIS is set properly and crew are trained correctly to proceed with voyages.
There are numerous cases of ships being detained by port state control because the vessel was not equipped with the right navigation systems or crew were unfamiliar with ECDIS operations.
OCIMF’s latest publication considers ECDIS-related navigational incident findings and safety-related observations from OCIMF’s Ship Inspection Report Programme. It uses this analysis to provide recommendations for improving ECDIS-related practices and preventing ECDIS-related navigational incidents.
OCIMF managing director Robert Drysdale said there are benefits and challenges with introducing new navigation technologies on ship bridges. “My view is that technology and digitalisation provide tools to ensure our industry will be successful and sustainable in the future,” he said.
“However, new technology can introduce unintended consequences if not planned, developed and introduced in a robust manner,” Mr Drysdale added.
He expects these OCIMF recommendations will help shipping and offshore industries reduce the risk of ECDIS-related incidents occurring “Everyone recognises the benefits that ECDIS brings, but we have witnessed incidents caused through the misuse or misunderstanding of the technology,” Mr Drysdale said.
“If followed, recommendations contained in this information paper will help drive down the number of incidents associated with using ECDIS. I encourage all those who use ECDIS to read it and apply the recommendations.”
OCIMF has written this free to download paper for shipowners, operators, masters, navigating officers and other bridge team members. It is also available to pilots and ECDIS manufacturers.
Key chapters in the information paper cover ECDIS carriage requirements, ECDIS training and familiarisation, passage planning and alarm management which are crucial to safer ship navigation and to prevent port state control detentions.
Safe and optimised voyage planning will be discussed during Riviera’s series of virtual conferences and webinar weeks during Q4 2020 and Q1 2021 - use this link to access further details and to register for these events