Over half of ships trading internationally are living with ECDIS, according to the latest figures published by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO).
Of an estimated 41,500 internationally trading ships around the world, 24,300 or 58% are now using an ENC (Electronic Navigational Chart) service on ECDIS as a result of the SOLAS-mandated carriage of ECDIS, which is being introduced on a rolling timetable for different ship types and sizes. Moreover, when those that do not trade internationally are included, 45% of all ships that are subject to the SOLAS regulations are ECDIS ready.
On this basis of this positive trajectory for ECDIS adoption, the UKHO believes that the shipping industry is broadly on course to comply with the SOLAS-mandated timetable for ECDIS carriage across the global fleet by the end of this decade.
Good progress by tankers and large cargo ships
Positive progress towards ECDIS adoption is also being made by different categories of ship types and sizes. The proportion of tankers over 3,000 gt that are ECDIS ready has risen from 54% in April 2015 to 69% in October 2015, following the ECDIS carriage regulations entering into force from 1 July 2015 for tankers.
The SOLAS regulations on ECDIS carriage will be extended to all existing cargo ships over 50,000 gt from 1 July 2016. At present, 62% of the 3,500 large cargo ships that will be subject to these regulations are already ECDIS ready. This is significantly higher than the equivalent figure for the tanker fleet from 12 months ago, indicating that the large cargo ship fleet is relatively more advanced in terms of its preparations for the ECDIS deadline.
There are some variances in ECDIS readiness between different categories of cargo ship. At present, 57% of bulkers are living with ECDIS, compared to 65% of RoRos and 71% of container ships. However, there is near-parity in ECDIS readiness between the Asian and European large cargo ship fleets. 63% of large cargo ships in Asia are ECDIS ready, compared to 62% in Europe.
ECDIS management and maintenance challenges
Commenting on the latest figures, Thomas Mellor, the UKHO’s Head of OEM Technical Support and Digital Standards, said:
“These figures show that the majority of internationally trading ships have made the transition to digital navigation and are now living with ECDIS. For the first time, vessels without ECDIS now represent a minority of the internationally trading fleet. This is an important moment for the shipping industry, as it signals that we are moving out of the ECDIS adoption phase and into a new era.
“Since our first ‘Are You Ready for ECDIS’ seminar in 2011, we have helped almost 4,000 shipping professionals in over 70 countries. Our latest ‘Living with ECDIS’ seminar continues to offer guidance that reflects the progress ship owners and operators have made in their use of ECDIS over the last three years. We continue to address the latest challenges faced by shipping companies through free practical advice and guidance and answer questions on ECDIS management and updating them on the latest IHO ENC Standards.
“It’s important to understand that ECDIS compliance and effective ECDIS use are not the same thing. All shipping companies need to ensure that they have put in place revised bridge policies and procedures that reflect the requirements of safe, effective and compliant ECDIS operation, that ECDIS software is upgraded to comply with the latest IHO ENC Standards, and that its bridge teams are competent and confident in using ECDIS to its full potential.”