Finally, IMO is doing something to bring harmony and standardisation to ship bridges. It is putting regulations and guidance in place to standardise displays and functions on ECDIS.
Next it needs to tackle the electronics manufacturers.
Bridge officers have been confused by the complexity of ECDIS, which has led to accidents such as the grounding of bulk carrier Muros in the North Sea in 2017, and the grounding of tanker Ovit in the Dover Strait.
I am sure there will be more accidents if regulators do not enforce some form of standard or ‘s-mode’ on ECDIS.
Thankfully, IMO’s Maritime Safety Committee (MSC) is set to take action to address the lack of standardisation.
When it meets between 16 and 25 May, the group is expected to approve interim guidelines as a first step in harmonising the display of navigation information throughout the shipping industry.
During this 99th session, MSC is also expected to adopt amendments to the revised performance standards for integrated navigation systems, which is related to the harmonisation of bridge design and the display of information.
The next step for IMO in ensuring safe navigation should be to force manufacturers to introduce s-modes for ECDIS, through legislation, to overcome any problems with unfamiliarity for bridge teams and make the shipping industry safer.
This is crucial to preventing confusion on the bridge and stopping navigators making a wrong move that can lead to a ship collision or grounding.