“My personal concern is how we can provide ECDIS training. Crew always change and it will be difficult to find such crew with enough qualifications.” said a Marine Manager after listening to a discussion on ECIDS given by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) at a recent maritime conference.
According UKHO, the benefits of ECDIS will only happen if the bridge officers can use ECDIS confidently and competently. Key to instilling confidence is training and in February, the UKHO met with the Nautical Institute (NI) and a group of eight industry associations to develop and publish the paper, Industry Recommendations for ECDIS Training.
“When you start looking at the certificates, what you can get is documents from people who have nothing to do with ECDIS.” said Captain Paul Hailwood, Master Mariner and ECDIS expert in a recent UKHO blog post. “I worked with a particular company which thought that all its officers had generic training. When we looked at the certificates, 60 per cent were invalid because they were completed at training centres which were not accredited by the flag state. The training courses had not been approved by the maritime authority so they were effectively worthless.”
With this in mind the UKHO is sponsoring 100 bridge officers to undertake comprehensive ECDIS training in maritime colleges around the world.
The promotion offers bridge officers worldwide the chance to win a place on a generic ECDIS training course based on the IMO Model Course 1.27 (Operational use of ECDIS). The courses will provide bridge officers the opportunity to develop a comprehensive understanding of ECDIS-based navigation.
Chief Executive of the UK Hydrographic Office, Ian Moncrieff CBE, explains “We believe the maritime community needs to focus on mariner training and especially providing practical guidance on using ENCs to make the transition to digital navigation successful. As an industry, we need to equip thousands of mariners with the right skills to be confident and competent in the use of ECDIS. We have a duty to support the mariner and comprehensive training is the only way to overcome that challenge.”
The requirement for ECDIS training is acute. Recent research by SIRC 1 demonstrated that bridge officers were least confident about the use of ECDIS, compared against four other key bridge technology systems. The research also showed that more than half of respondents had used ECDIS before completing any training ashore. In addition, the number of mariners who require training is significant; estimates range between 140,000 and 200,000 mariners to be trained in the next six years.
Ian Moncrieff continues, “The first deadline for the mandatory carriage of ECDIS comes into force in July 2012. We need to support bridge watchkeepers to ensure they are prepared.
The training promotion is just one part of a series of initiatives from Admiralty this year to help the industry prepare for the IMO’s ECDIS mandate, a rolling timetable of ECDIS carriage requirements that begins to take effect in July 2012.