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Maritime Digitalisation & Communications

Shipowners react and invest in ECDIS innovation and challenges

Tue 12 Jun 2018 by Martyn Wingrove

Shipowners react and invest in ECDIS innovation and challenges
C-Map provides optimised and safe routeing information to Chevron Shipping

Chellaram Shipping explains how it worked with ECDIS providers to update and replace ECDIS, while SolstadFarstad and Chevron Shipping contracted ENC management and route optimisation 

Shipowners, managers and operators have faced the challenges of not just deploying ECDIS, but replacing ageing equipment as software became redundant. Those that were early adopters of ECDIS technology more than 10 years ago had challenges in meeting updated IMO requirements when software and performance standards were raised.

These requirements peaked in Q3 2017 when ship operators rushed to update ECDIS to the latest International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) standards, to version 4.0, of S-52 for ECDIS presentation libraries and S-64 for test data used for type approvals.

Chellaram Shipping (Hong Kong), also known as Chellship, was one of the ship operators that adopted ECDIS at an early stage. It operates a fleet of 15 bulk carriers and dredgers and strived to become a leader in bridge system technology and safe navigation by supplementing paper charts with electronic navigational charts (ENCs).

According to Chellship general manager for technical operations, Vikas Kumar, some of the ships under its management have had ECDIS on board for more than 15 years. This led to challenges when it had to comply with the renewed IMO requirements.

“When updating these to the latest IHO standards, we had to replace some of the oldest ECDIS with modern units,” Mr Kumar told Marine Electronics & Communications. Some of the more modern units needed updated software and some hardware components. Chellship worked with ECDIS providers to ensure its ships complied with the requirements in time for the deadline on 1 September 2017.

“We had to replace some of the oldest ECDIS with modern units”

For Mr Kumar, this is not the end of the ECDIS challenges as there are technical and manpower issues ahead. He explained that advances in ECDIS technology has led to greater training requirements for seafarers tasked with using these critical navigation aids.

“There are advances in ECDIS that have new functions, such as alerts to crew if the GPS signal is tampered with and information overlays,” he said. “But, training becomes more important and we need some level of standardisation.”

He would like ECDIS manufacturers to develop standard formats of operation and data exchange between different models to ensure navigation officers of all ages can operate systems on different ships.

“Our mature officers and masters do not find it easy to operate ECDIS and they need more familiarisation training, which is why we need standardisation,” he said. “We also need ECDIS that will self-update its software.”

This extra request covers the need for shipmanagers and operators to update ECDIS with the latest software to ensure they can open the latest ENCs and provide correct information to bridge officers.

ENC management investments

Operator of offshore support vessels, SolstadFarstad, is working with a provider of ENC management services as part of its digitalisation process. The Norwegian group contracted GNS in May to provide a fixed-price bundle of digital e-navigation products for the navigation requirements of its fleet.

SolstadFarstad operates 145 vessels, including 32 construction service vessels, 50 anchor handling tug supply vessels and 63 platform supply vessels. It has consolidated its navigation information requirements under a single supplier, thus simplifying ENC purchasing. The offshore vessel operator has transitioned from buying an on-demand programme to a fleet-wide fixed-price bundle.

GNS’ service includes digital publications and route-specific navigation products with analysis of vessel and fleet ENC requirements. SolstadFarstad chief operating officer Tor Inge Dale said the company expects to “achieve significant savings and purchasing efficiencies” through this agreement.

“Sourcing our navigational data this way allows vessels to get very fast access to what they actually need and significantly reduces the administration time we spend on purchasing navigational products. This remove the costs associated with processing large numbers of small transactions.” SolstadFarstad can use GNS analysis to manage navigation spending on individual vessels and across the fleet, reducing administration and improving compliance assurance.

Chevron Shipping Co has turned to Norwegian ENC specialist C-Map for its ECDIS chart provision and fleet management services. C-Map was appointed this year by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office as an official Admiralty digital distributor and ENC service provider. It is managing ENCs for Chevron and providing the US oil major with shore-based routeing and voyage optimisation services, plus technical support and training.

Chevron will use Admiralty electronic navigational charts and digital publications on board crude tankers, product tankers and LNG carriers. It will also use C-Map’s Pro+ charts and UpdateWizard for worldwide chart coverage on ECDIS on these ships.

C-Map claims to have the world’s largest marine navigation digital chart database and said its data and software solutions are used by more than 80% of the world’s hydrographic offices. C-Map’s Integrated Maritime Suite, a cloud-based program for fleet management and route optimisation, will be implemented by Chevron on its tankers and in its onshore fleet management offices.

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