The majority of ships in the global tanker fleet have yet to adopt ECDIS, according to data published for the first time by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO). The SOLAS regulations on the mandatory carriage of ECDIS will come into force from July 1, 2015 for all tankers over 3,000 gross metric tonnes, apart from permitted exemptions.
Over 8,500 tankers will be required to comply with these rules and, with less than 10 months to go, the UKHO can reveal that 58% of these ships do not yet use an ENC service.
The amendments to the SOLAS Convention requiring the mandatory carriage of ECDIS were adopted in 2009. To date, approximately 3,600 tankers, or 42% of the global tanker fleet use an ENC service. This leaves almost 5,000 tankers that do not use an ENC service and therefore may not have ECDIS installed.
The UKHO data also reveals a significant divergence in the ENC use of the global tanker fleet between different tanker sizes and types. Overall, 23% of the global product tanker fleet of approximately 1,700 vessels is already using an ENC service, compared to 44% of crude tankers and 63% of LNG tankers.
With less than one year until these amendments to the SOLAS Convention come into force for the global tanker fleet, owners and operators of tankers that are not yet ready to comply need to ensure they have a plan in place to adopt ECDIS in a thorough and diligent manner.
Whether it is the physical installation of ECDIS onboard, the delivery of type-specific training for crew or the necessary revisions to bridge policies and procedures, it is a considerable undertaking.
Captain Paul Hailwood, an expert on ECDIS and integrated bridge operations, said “The transition to ECDIS is a very complex and significant undertaking, whether it is for a single ship or an entire fleet. This data on the current state of ENC use across the global tanker fleet reveals that there is still a long way to go in a short period of time if the fleet is to be fully ready to comply with the SOLAS regulations, even allowing for exemptions and the grace period until a ship’s first survey date.
There are also wider implications for the ability of the industry to deliver a transition to ECDIS on this scale in such a short period of time, given the inevitable constraints on capacity, such as crew training places and the availability of engineers to manage the installation process.
Any tanker owner or operator beginning or yet to begin preparations for the adoption of ECDIS should have a plan in place by now in order to make the transition in a safe, compliant and efficient manner and to avoid the risk of failing to comply with the regulations. It is a misconception to think ‘because I can navigate with paper, I can navigate with ECDIS.”