ECDIS training and familiarisation

The electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) will become mandatory on 1 July 2018. Make sure you and your crew are properly trained to use the system.

On 1 July 2018, the carriage of electronic chart display and information system (ECDIS) will be mandatory for all over 500 gross tonnage on international voyages.

Under the Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers Convention (STCW), there has been a long-standing requirement for all officers who carry out navigational tasks to be appropriately trained. All officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or more must have a thorough knowledge of and ability to use nautical charts and nautical publications (refer to STCW Code Table A-II/1). The definition of a nautical chart (as provided in SOLAS Chapter V Regulation 2) includes a special purpose map or book, or a specially compiled database. This clearly includes electronic navigational charts and raster navigation charts, and hence includes the use of ECDIS.

If you are a seafarer who commenced an approved education and training program before 1 July 2013, you must do an approved generic ECDIS training. This training must be undertaken by all masters and officers in charge of a navigational watch on ECDIS-fitted ships.

To maintain your qualification as a master or officer in charge of a navigational watch, you must complete an approved generic ECDIS training course.

If you are a master or officer certificated under Chapter II of the STCW Convention, you must be familiar with the type of ECDIS fitted to your ship in accordance with STCW Convention Regulation I/14. The requirement for familiarisation is further recognised under the provisions of sections 6.3 and 6.5 of the ISM code. Resources supplied by the ECDIS manufacturers (such as a CD or DVD) may be a part of ECDIS familiarisation. Trickle-down training (eg one officer training another) is not acceptable without a structured and formalised process to facilitate such familiarisation.

The 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention and Code have introduced several additional specific competencies in the use of ECDIS for masters and officers in charge of a navigational watch serving on ECDIS-fitted ships. Training requirements in accordance with the 2010 Manila Amendments became effective on 1 July 2013.

Familiarisation requirements

ECDIS familiarisation ensures that master and navigating officers are familiar with the specific make and model of the ECDIS equipment onboard (including backup) before taking charge of a navigational watch. Familiarisation should build on previously completed ECDIS generic training.

In accordance with the ISM code, the company should establish procedures, plans and instructions, including checklists, for key shipboard operations such as the use of ECDIS for navigation. The requirement for familiarisation is recognised under the provisions of section 6.3 and 6.5 of the ISM code.

If the generic training includes familiarisation with a particular type (ie same make and model) of ECDIS equipment installed onboard, such training can be considered to fulfil the requirement of both generic training and familiarisation. The master is expected to verify that all officers in charge of a navigational watch are competent in the safe and effective use of the ship’s ECDIS.

ECDIS familiarisation should follow a structured plan and cover the following areas:

  • familiarisation with available functions
  • familiarisation with the menu structure
  • display setup
  • setting of safety values
  • recognition of alarms and malfunction indicators and action to be taken
  • route planning
  • route monitoring
  • changing over to backup systems
  • loading charts and licenses
  • updating of software.

Trickle-down-familiarisation (eg one crew member training another) is not acceptable. It is unstructured, leads to incomplete knowledge of the equipment capabilities, especially the lesser used functions. The Nautical Institute has developed a useful check list on ECDIS familiarisation that lists the key tasks for using ECDIS as a means of navigation.

Our port State control inspectors expect to see documented evidence for generic ECDIS training. They do not expect type specific approved training certificates for the purpose of meeting familiarisation requirements. Our port State control inspectors may request the master and officers to demonstrate their competence in the use of the equipment installed onboard.

Last updated: 

Thursday 30 July 2020