The inception of e-Navigation concept took place way back in the year 2006, when the International Maritime Organization (IMO) decided to include a well-defined strategy to integrate new and existing navigational tools for enhancing handling and safety of ships at the sea.
In the past few decades, the shipping industry has gone through a series of technological advancements. Just like in any other field, massive digitization of machinery and equipment has been seen in the shipping industry as well.
Modern ships use digital equipment such as AIS, ECDIS, Integrated Bridge Systems, Automatic Radar Plotting Aids, Long Range Identification and Tracking, GMDSS and several other sophisticated electronic navigational tools. The main aim of the e-Navigation concept is to develop a system which can properly organize all the ship’s data at one place in order to help improving navigational safety of the ships.
Technology in the shipping industry is constantly changing. Considering the presently used technology and those that are expected to be launched in future, a “one-stop” system is required which would bring together all the tools in a systematic manner at one place.
Human error during ship navigation has been termed as one of the prime reasons for maritime accidents. Though the number of accidents at sea has reduced lately, a lot needs to be done in order to reduce navigational errors as a result of human negligence.The matter of concern is that in spite of highly advanced equipment systems used in modern ships, accidents related to navigation continues to occur.
A series of electronic technologies, both ship and shore based, are used to improve the situational-awareness and decision making of navigation officers. These systems also help in search and rescue during emergency, responding to any form of marine pollution from ships, improving port and ship security, and planning and executing cargo operations. However, maritime accidents still continue to take place around the world.
An integrated system is therefore required which would help to collect, integrate, exchange, present, and analyse marine information on ships and at shore using electronic systems. This would eventually help to improve ship navigation, operations, and safety, along with protecting marine environment.
The main aim of e-Navigation is to enhance navigation safety of the ships while simultaneously reducing the burden on navigational officers. A well coordinated and systematic system under e-navigation would considerable increase the efficiency of the ships not only at the sea but also at the ports. Moreover, global standardization of such systems would reduce complexity in ship’s operation and substantially improve safety at the sea.
Several maritime organizations both public and private, along with IMO are working towards making a robust e-Navigation system within maritime international framework. However, the it is expected that the system thus made should be extremely beneficial to officers for ensuring appropriate navigation and decision making, and should not reduce the navigator solely to the role of monitoring the e-Navigation system.