UK and Danish authorities have published a report, “Application and Usability of ECDIS”, which concludes that a new approach is needed for the Electronic Chart Display and Information System, universally known by its acronym ECDIS.
The research was prompted by an increasing number of grounding incidents, and the findings raised serious questions about the shipping industry’s fundamental approach to electronic navigation.
ECDIS permits crews to map their voyages on screen and minimize such risks as grounding. Navigators who use ECDIS are required to take specialist training to acquire necessary levels of knowledge and competence.
The report from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) and Danish Maritime Accident Investigation Board (DMAIB) noted the grounding of chemical tanker Ovit in the Dover Strait in September 2013 due to what an MAIB report described as “a clear example of ECDIS incompetence by deck officers”.
The grounding of bulk carrier Muros on the east coast of the UK in December 2016 occurred after what MAIB described as ECDIS procedural safeguards being “overlooked, disabled and ignored”
Most recently, general cargo vessel Kaami was declared a constructive total loss and scrapped after it ran aground during a storm off north-west Scotland in March 2020, caused, MAIB said, by “ECDIS misuse”.
MAIB/DMAIB said that they hoped their report would “act as a catalyst for change” in the industry. It strongly recommended improvements in ECDIS design, training, and performance.
The report’s findings were based on interviews carried out with 155 professional ECDIS users and data gathered between February and July 2018 during sea voyages in European waters on 31 ships of various types.
The report noted that, despite being in service for two decades, most of the automated functions of ECDIS designed to alert the watchkeeper of impending dangers were not easy to use and lacked the granularity for navigation in pilotage waters. This resulted in high false alarm rates, which in turn eroded confidence in the automated warning, leading to most operators either disabling the alarms or ignoring alerts, because so many of them were false alarms.
“To be an effective tool for safe navigation, ECDIS needs a high degree of operator input but many watchkeepers appeared to have limited understanding of the systems they were using, and in the main only used them to the extent they felt necessary,” the report said
The report accepted that since its introduction ECDIS had contributed to safe navigation, but said that its challenges remained problematic.
The DMAIB and MAIB is going to discuss the study with other marine accident investigation agencies with the aim of improving how accidents involving interaction between users and complex technological systems are investigated.
By admin On October 20, 2021 In Insurance Marine News, Keep, Marine Hull, Marine Liability