Columbia Shipmanagement is moving beyond simply deploying ecdis on ships in the managed fleet to meet IMO regulations. It is evaluating upgrades to existing hardware and software, training superintendents as well as officers, and improving bridge procedures. The Cyprus-based shipmanager is driving towards paperless navigation by doing risk assessments and further type-specific ecdis training.
Officers on its fleet of tankers are already using ecdis for navigation, as ecdis has to be fitted on these ships not later than the first annual survey after 1 July 2015. This IMO deadline is now almost upon the tanker sector. This is why Columbia Shipmanagement is following an ecdis master plan, said manager for marine quality, safety, health and environment (QSHE) Leonid Zalenski.
“We are on top of ecdis IMO regulations and following our management of change process for the implementation of ecdis,” he explained. The ecdis master plan includes a series of steps towards using ecdis as the primary means of navigation on these ships. It includes the evaluation of existing hardware and software on board and initiating upgrades of ship specific installations if required. The master plan also includes generic training of all masters and deck officers in accordance with the IMO model course 1.27, and type-specific training of all officers on shore prior to them joining the ships.
“We are also doing onboard ecdis familiarisation in accordance with the requirements of our bridge operations manual, which considers the latest Nautical Institute recommendations,” said Capt Zalenski. It also incorporates requirements from the Oil Companies International Marine Forum (OCIMF) in its vessel inspection questionnaire notes.
Columbia Shipmanagement ensures that onboard ecdis have the correct class certificates and that the records of safety equipment are updated. It also updates onboard procedures and manuals to take into consideration points arising from inspections and audits. “We conduct ship specific risk assessments to the satisfaction of the QSHE marine superintendent prior to accepting the use of ecdis as the primary means of navigation,” Capt Zalenski explained. “We continuously make improvements to procedures in our bridge operations manual – which has comprehensive ecdis procedures – considering our own experience and best industry practice.”
Its superintendents and navigation auditors attend ship inspections and monitor the effectiveness of any risk mitigation measures that are taken following these visits. “We share ecdis-related observations from internal and external inspections and audits with the fleet to raise awareness,” Capt Zalenski added. “Furthermore, we are organising ecdis training for our superintendents – on inspector courses – in order to keep control of the effectiveness of ecdis use on board.”
Columbia Shipmanagement is also working to upgrade all onboard ecdis with the latest software standards from the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), so it is ready for the August 2017 deadline. This is what the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) is urging all shipowners and managers to do in order to be ready for enforcement of the new IHO standards. Ships with ecdis will need the updated IHO S-52 presentation library, edition 4.0, by 31 August 2017 or risk being detained by port state control inspectors.
The UKHO is urging shipowners to update to the new ecdis standards at the earliest opportunity, rather than waiting until the deadline. It said the major benefits of the upgrade would include greater consistency in the display of electronic navigational charts (ENCs), and a reduction in the number of audible alarms on the bridge. UKHO head of original equipment manufacturer support and digital standards Tom Mellor said that manufacturers were making progress on gaining type approval for their updated ecdis software, but he feels that shipowners and managers could be tempted to delay onboard system upgrades.
“The transition to the new ecdis standards is definitely gathering pace, and it is encouraging to see such positive progress with manufacturers,” Mr Mellor said. He is also chairman of the IHO’s ENC working group, which assisted in updating ecdis standards. He added: “Naturally, shipowners will have questions about the new ecdis standards. One recurring question is whether there are any compatibility issues between newly produced ENCs and the current presentation library edition 3.4. Owners need not be concerned about this, as ENCs themselves are unchanged. The upgrade applies to the presentation library, which governs how the ENC data is displayed on the ecdis screen, not the data itself.”
A number of ecdis suppliers have already gained class approval for their ecdis with the latest software, while others are adding advanced features. Raytheon Anschütz is the latest to gain type approval. It supplies ecdis as part of its Synapsis integrated bridge system, or as the standalone Ecdis 24 module which was designed for ship retrofit projects. The company said shipowners can receive a cost effective update or upgrade for existing systems. This will reduce the workload of users, improve navigational safety and make ecdis more effective for voyage planning and execution.
Navico has secured type approval for its Simrad Maris ecdis models from the Russian Maritime Register of Shipping. This covers Maris Ecdis900 Mk5 and Mk15 for use on commercial shipping and fishing vessels. It also opens up extensive opportunities for deployment of Simrad ecdis products in Russia and where the Russian class organisation had formerly granted approval for other Navico products.
Navico vice president for commercial maritime products Nicolas Queru said this was a major step for Simrad ecdis. “Maris Ecdis900 units and software have been developed for their ease of use, with a standard Windows PC interface,” he said. “They facilitate advanced route planning and optimisation tools with special-purpose modules including search and rescue planning.” The Mk5 system comes with a 24in or 26in flat panel monitor and standard computer. The Mk15 has a 24in flat panel display and an integrated computer.
Transas has incorporated weather and ocean data from UK-based Theyr within its voyage planning system Transas Navi-Planner 4000. This should help operators with weather routeing and voyage optimisation. Users can add Theyr weather overlays to ENCs and customise the information that is displayed. They can access Theyr weather forecast updates by indicating the required region and weather parameters.
Bridge teams can display weather conditions for a certain region using a cursor, and view graphs of weather. The weather and ocean data parameters displayed include wind speed, barometric pressure, precipitation, air temperature, sea surface temperature, tropical storms and hurricanes, visibility, significant wave height, period, and direction. This information can be displayed in high and low resolution. The data can be fully compressed for efficient and cost-effective delivery over any communications network.
Jeppesen has teamed up with satellite communications provider Navarino to jointly develop a platform for delivering ENCs to ships. This is the first step in a long-term collaboration, which is focused on strengthening digital navigation and operations offerings. Initially it will involve ENC updates delivered to ships through Navarino’s Infinity platform and Inmarsat’s Fleet Xpress and FleetBroadband.
Navarino project manager Nikolaos Papanikolaou said this would replace the use of memory sticks and DVDs for installing chart updates on ecdis. He added: “The partnership with Jeppesen is another step in our strategy of providing high quality integrated satellite communications solutions via the new generation of Inmarsat satellites.”
Jeppesen managing director for commercial marine services in Norway John Klippen said this would support shipowners that are deploying ecdis across their fleets to meet IMO regulations. He said around 35,000 vessels need to be equipped with ecdis that are using the latest ENCs by 2018. “Our partnership with Navarino will help ship operators comply with the ecdis mandate, and support them in achieving the operating efficiency needed to create competitive advantages,” he said.
Both companies expect that more digital navigation solutions will be developed as a result of the growing technology trends of the Internet of Things, data analytics and the use of maritime cloud services. Jeppesen expects to offer more navigational and operational services for improving navigation, efficiency and safety at sea through Navarino’s connectivity.