With the increased use of ECDIS, the possibility of errors is minimized. But what navigators still do not understand is the principle of tracking the position of the ship. They rely on the company’s Safety Management System (SMS) to guide them and then, regardless of their own situation, determine positions from the SMS at specified intervals. This does not help, because SMS can help, but the navigator must make an informed decision.

Human errors in maritime accidents relating to ECDIS were researched. In the tests carried out on 21 navigation officers that actively work and have different periods of maritime service, it was revealed that 85% of the subjects did not know about the basic safety functions and alarm settings of the device. Only 23.8% of the subjects were able to notice that the drawn route crossed by the areas where running aground was a possibility. Based on the study, it was emphasized that information of a worryingly low level of ECDIS usage jeopardizes the safety of navigation.

A recent example is a personal one on the Singapore strait: VLCC loaded with a speed of 12 kts proceeding in the a TSS with a chemical tanker in front of the VLCC with a distance of 2 nms and speed of 12.5 kts. OOW watching the ECDIS chemical tanker’s AIS altering course sharply in front of the VLCC. Then informed master to alter course immediately in order to avoid collision…. The chemical tanker did not altered course it was a fault of the AIS…

  • The visibility was very good and vessel’s wakes can be seen with naked eye
  • There was not a radar overlay on the ECDIS which the officer was using
  • The officer never checked out of the window to confirm the chemical tankers intentions

    unfortunately such mistakes are common with the new generation of officers who re used to look at “screens”

In 45% of the accidents studied, it was observed that ECDIS’s warning feature, which should be active when the ship enters shallow waters, does not work. For this reason, it is recommended that navigation officers cross- check their position, especially in shallow waters, by using Radar and Visual methods besides ECDIS;

The line relation analysis showed that the wrong cart scale used in ECDIS when voyage procedures were insufficient in six accidents. Selecting the wrong chart scale may cause underwater hazards not to be detected by the navigator. ECDIS procedures that include emergency situations, such as loss of signal or failure and chart scales, to be used at different stages of voyage, such as coastal navigation and pre-arrival should be created. Procedures for updating and checks of ENCs and nautical publications should be also applied;

it is seen that ECDIS warning alarms were set incorrectly by duty officers in 41% of accidents. ECDIS settings should be double-checked including all safety check features (route check, safety frame, etc.); anti-grounding settings related ships drought safety contour, safety depth and deep contour.