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AMSA targets ECDIS competency

26 November 2021

AMSA has recently issued a new Marine Notice relating to Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS): AMSA Marine Notice 082021

The Marine Notice encourages vessel operators, Masters and officers in charge of a navigational watch to adopt the IMO Guidance for Good Practice on the safe and effective use of ECDIS: ECDIS – Guidance for Good Practice.

It reminds operators that Masters and officers in charge of a navigational watch must be trained and be able to show competency in the use of the system, and in particular, critical functions essential to safe navigation such as adjusting appropriate settings including as to alarms, uploading and checking passage plans, and updating ENCs.

The Marine Notice warns that PSC inspectors may take action if the Master and relevant officers lack familiarity with essential shipboard procedures relating to the operation of ECDIS. This action could include detaining the vessel until appropriate competency can be established.

The Marine Notice also reminds operators that there is complete ENC coverage of Australian waters (AusENC – produced by the Australian Hydrographic Office) and that ENCs for an intended voyage must be adequate and up to date.

It reiterates that the use of RNCs when ENCs are available is not permitted in Australia, and that ECDIS operating in raster chart display system mode (RCDS) must not be used when navigating in Australian waters.

This Marine Notice brings to mind the recent decision of the UK Supreme Court in CMA CGM LIBRA [2021] UKSC 51 which confirmed that because of how important passage planning is for safe navigation, a vessel is likely to be unseaworthy for the purposes of the Hague/Visby Rules if it embarks on a voyage with a defective passage plan.

In a related way, one could expect that a vessel manned by Master and navigational officers that lack adequate training and/or competence in the safe and effective use of ECDIS, particularly with respect to passage planning and monitoring, could result in exposure in vessel operators (as was considered in The Eurasian Dream [2002] 1 Ll Rep 719 in the context of fire safety).

For more information, or to discuss the implementation of appropriate management systems and process, do not hesitate to Get in Touch.