International requirements governing electronic navigational displays have put a significant burden on shipping companies over the last two years.
During that time, a new version of the International Hydrographic Organisationís standard for displaying electronic navigational charts (ENCs) mandated an upgrade to all ECDIS systems, a critical navigation aid on ship bridges.
IMO adopted these requirements and they were then enforced by port state control.
This led to turmoil in the marine electronics sector, with some owners having to replace complete ECDIS systems and others scrambling to find new hardware and software.
The regulations added costs at a time when profit margins for most in the shipping industry were thin.
Manufacturers, too, felt the squeeze as they faced class re-approval for the newly designed hardware and software.
Now MEC hears this whole rigamarole may be rolled out all over again.
During my discussion with the chair of IHOís ENC working group Tom Mellor last week, he explained some of the changes coming.
In the short term, Mr Mellor said that IHO is considering whether to update the security standard for ENCs to add more encryption and to bring in a new ENC validation standard. In the longer term, he said the IHO is working to introduce a whole new ENC standard.
Without careful thinking behind the development and timing of these new ECDIS and ENC standards, shipowners could, again, be faced with a costly rush to comply.
However, IMO and IHO should ensure that these measures are enacted seamlessly and at little or no additional cost to owners.
I am writing our annual Complete Guide to ECDIS and would welcome your thoughts on this matter. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more details on ECDIS please view our features on marinemec.com