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Electronic Chart Systems and ECDIS - Essay Example

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Summary
Electronic Chart Systems have been available over 10 years. An increasing number of companies are now using them. The standard for complete elimination of paper navigation charts is the one defined by SOLAS convention and generally known as Electronic Chart Display Information System (ECDIS)…
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Electronic Chart Systems and ECDIS
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Electronic Chart Systems and ECDIS

Download file to see previous pages... Before a ship embarks on a voyage it is required under the SOLAS convention to carry adequate and up-to-date nautical charts and publications. Nautical charts are special purpose maps issued by IMO/IHO that are used for navigation. They show "depths, nature of bottom, elevations, configuration and characteristics of coast, dangers and aids to navigation" (Stavanger, 2004)1.
Developments in technology have made it possible for electronic charts to be used. Due to stringent requirements for being up-to-date and complete, IMO/SOLAS have defined an electronic chart that can be acceptable to totally replace the paper charts. This type of chart is called an Electronic Chart Display Information System (ECDIS).
Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) means a navigation information system which, with adequate back up arrangements, can be accepted as complying with the up-to-date chart required by regulation V/19 & V/27 of the 1974 SOLAS Convention. (Stavanger, 2004)2.
Charts come in two forms; vector Electronic Navigation Chart (ENC) and Raster Navigation Chart (RNC). The vector chart consists of a database which can be manipulated to display a chart. The raster chart is simply the paper chart which has been scanned and digitised. It closely resembles the paper chart but is limited in terms of how data can be manipulated. The standard for ECDIS is based on ENC but lately the RNC has also been included and referred to as RCDIS. The raster system is not considered to be comprehensive enough and still demands that paper charts be carried.

It took some time before any official ECDIS systems were available. Companies, realising the advantage of electronic charts, started using non-certified equipment which is called the electronic chart system. Even certfied ECDIS systems operate in that mode is limted because ENCs availability is limited.

3 User Requirements for ECDIS
Users of ECDIS are very clear about why they need to move from paper charts to electronic charts. They also have a clear idea of a system that meets their requiremets in this regard. The reason an ECDIS is required are:
To relieve burden of paper charts that need storage and are cumbersome to use. Paper charts wear out while ENC/RNC do not wear out. A complete set of paper charts can amount to about 3000 maps (Edmonds3, 2002). These can be reduced to just 11 CDs.
ECDIS offer a better means of evaluating vessel's track against planned route. It is therefore easy to notice drift from route compared to paper and corrective action can be taken without further delay.
Integration of navigation monitoring with sensors on board vessels gives a clearer picture of the surrounding environment in one picture. The visibility to other craft in close proximity and recording of their tracks makes it easy to spot possible collisions in advance.
Route planning is easy with ENCs and routes can be stored for re-use. Routes can be standardised by the companies can setting their own rules that minimise risk to the vessel thereby lowering overall risk. Shell UK Ltd decided that routes should not depend on whether the ship is in ballast or not and have formulated a rule that "[l]oaded and ballast passages would be subject to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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