From Paper Charts to ECDIS By Captain Harry Gale FNI

ECDIS cover web

This is another timely publication published by the Nautical Institute, which provides valuable information, and advice to mariners as the traditional paper chart is replaced by ECDIS during the next few years.

Electronic charts have been making an appearance on bridges now for several years but considering the revolution in navigation techniques that such installations herald, the lack of understanding of the systems amongst some mariners (and dare I suggest many pilots) is quite alarming!

We have all seen the terms ECDIS, ENC, ECS, Raster and Vector, but what do they all mean and what is the difference between them? All is explained in this handy booklet.

The Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) is basically an approved platform for displaying approved Electronic Navigation Charts (ENCs) which are produced to an internationally agreed standard capable of replacing the traditional paper chart.  These ENC’s can only be produced by, or on the authority of, an authorised Hydrographic Office. The IMO approved the mandatory carriage of ECDIS in December 2008 and set dates for the phasing in of ECDIS over a six year period between 2012 and 2018.

Up until now the carriage of Electronic Chart Systems has not been formally regulated and consequently two key problems have arisen, namely: Confusion over whether or not the system is a “approved” ECDIS and training in the use of electronic charts. These problems are considerable because a non-approved system must not be used for navigation, even though it may be integrated into the bridge console. Since use of ECDIS requires a whole new way of how a navigator uses a chart and interprets the information displayed, a lack of training in its use is a recognised danger which has already resulted in several high profile groundings!

Drawing on valuable feedback from the end user by means of the NI’s Sea Going Correspondence Group, Captain Gales’ book explains all the existing systems, details the advantages and disadvantages of using ECDIS and highlights the dangers of misinterpreting data through a lack of proper training.

From Paper Charts to ECDIS is therefore another essential book for the “Ready Room”.

Both books are available from the Nautical Institute’s publications department:

Radar & AIS  £20 (30% discount for members) ISBN 1 870077 95 4

ECDIS: £15 (30% discount for members) ISBN 987 1 870077 98 9

NI Online bookshop

Phone: +44 (0) 20 7028 1351

202 Lambeth Road


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