It is important that your electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) is up to date. Make sure you are aware of updates and any changes to International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) standards.
We will generally allow ships installed with ECDIS which comply with older performance standard (A.817(19)) to enter or depart Australian ports. Our acceptance of this standard is dependent on the relevant software for the ECDIS equipment being upgraded. The ECDIS equipment must operate effectively with the latest version of the IHO ECDIS and electronic navigation chart (ENC) standard. Read about the current standards for the IHO presentation library.
The older performance standards (PS) for ECDIS as outlined in IMO Resolution A.817(19) have been revised and updated. Depending on the date of installation, ECDIS units are required to comply with one of the two IMO PSs (A.817(19) or MSC.232(82)):
- ECDIS equipment installed on or after 1 January 2009 must comply with the current revised PS for ECDIS (IMO Resolution MSC.232 (82)) as amended.
- ECDIS equipment installed before 1 January 2009 can comply with the older PS for ECDIS (IMO Resolution A.817 (19)) as amended.
If your ship has the older models of ECDIS equipment which conform to the earlier IMO performance standard (A.817(19)), you should still use the latest version of the IHO standards. Any ECDIS which is not upgraded to be compatible with the latest version of the IHO ENC product specification or the presentation library may be unable to correctly display the latest charted features. Such systems may not meet the chart carriage requirements as set out in SOLAS regulation V/220.127.116.11. With older ECDIS units (hardware), difficulties have been observed when upgrading ECDIS software. At least one ECDIS manufacturer has confirmed to IHO that their older hardware (built before 2003) cannot be upgraded with new software.
Updating to the latest IHO standard
Consideration needs to be given to allow a reasonable time period for you to comply with the latest IHO standards. IMO Circular MSC.1/Circ.1503 mentions the need to maintain ECDIS in accordance with the relevant IHO standards.
It is understood that when IHO makes a change to their standards, there has to be some time allowed for the manufacturers to redesign their software and deliver a compliant product. As such, the ideal schedule for the upgrading of ECDIS to meet the latest IHO standards cannot be easily defined. An acceptable schedule should take account of what can reasonably be achieved and will depend on the circumstances of each case. An important consideration is whether ships officers are aware of any limitations when an ECDIS is not compliant with any (particularly new) IHO standards.
We expect ECDIS software to be up to date and, within reason, to comply with the latest versions of applicable IHO standards. Similar to chart corrections, we will consider a practical and achievable timeline for any needed software upgrades to take place.
Acceptance of the use of older ECDIS equipment software not improved/upgraded will depend on how the ECDIS unit is being used on board. Any risks should be addressed by carrying out an appropriate risk assessment. Mitigating actions could include carrying a paper chart back up and by making reference to the paper charts, particularly when passage planning.
We recognise the nature of shipping including long sailing times between ports. In such circumstances there should be written evidence on board to indicate that pending upgrades are scheduled to take place in the near future.