Admiralty ran a series of ‘Are you ready for the ECDIS regulations?’ workshops at Sea Japan. Following the workshops, the Future of Navigation blog caught up with some of the attendees, including Captain Noboru Shiomoto from one of Japan’s largest shipping companies, NYK. We discussed the company’s strategy for installing and operating ECDIS.
NYK Line has accumulated a decade of experience in digital navigation, having installed its first shipboard systems in 2002, according to the manager of its Marine Technical Team, Noboru Shiomoto.
The NYK Line owned fleet currently numbers 300 vessels with another 800 operated on charter. By the end of May 2011 more than 200 of its owned vessels were fitted with ECDIS, however almost all of these are still using paper charts for primary navigation, with ECDIS providing situational awareness.
“Within our owned fleet, 10 vessels are fitted with dual ECDIS and these already use ENCs for primary navigation. We have plans to install dual ECDIS on another 100 vessels over the next two to three years. So we are moving very fast to meet the requirements of the ECDIS mandate,” he explains.
Given the high volume of NYK Line officers to be trained, the company is fortunate to be able to take advantage of its own in-house training facilities. NYK’s ship management subsidiary in Singapore launched its own generic and type specific ECDIS training in July 2011 at a facility with five ECDIS simulators. The centre has so far trained 350 officers and Capt. Shiomoto says it will train a further 400 to 450 officers per annum.
In April 2012, the company also began conducting generic and type specific ECDIS training in Japan, with type training covering four manufacturers: JRC, Furuno, Transas and Tokimec. Familiarisation is undertaken onboard but Capt. Shiomoto is clear that for core training, the classroom is a better location than the ship.
“As part of our risk assessment, we conducted a survey three years ago to seek the views of all masters and officers regarding ECDIS – to find out what was needed and where we should allocate resources,” he continues. “Training and procedures were the biggest concerns so we designed our implementation process based on that feedback.”
The seafarer feedback also indicated that the fewer types of ECDIS installed across the fleet the better, because of the problem of familiarisation training when moving from ship to ship and between different ECDIS models. Since then, NYK has taken the decision to use only JRC and Furuno ECDIS on new installations. Even so the transition has presented some challenges.
“We are fully engaged in this process but because we are in transition phase from paper to digital charts, we are facing an increase in cost and workload while we transfer fully to ECDIS,” he continues. He notes some interesting feedback from the seafarers onboard its full ECDIS ships, drawn from interviews conducted on how to manage the transition.
“There are so many advantages, for example chart corrections, which are far simplified, but the real differences come from knowing your location as you navigate, so you can make sure you are always operating safely. Previously we navigated using GPS and onshore targets, but where ECDIS is installed we can use real-time GPS to look ahead so we have a better understanding of our surroundings and can maintain a safe voyage.”
He also cites the ECDIS anti-grounding functionality which he says means the company can expect a reduction in accident risk in the future – all in all, he says the crews reported a very positive experience using ECDIS.
He says NYK’s move towards digital navigation is as much driven by internal philosophy as by client requirements. This is especially true because the company has a high proportion of large ships but he says that NYK is also considering installing ECDIS on ships smaller than 10,000 tonnes in future.
“The main purpose of our introducing ECDIS is not just to meet regulatory requirements. These are important, but we strongly believe that ECDIS is an effective tool to prevent collisions and improve safety of navigation. For this reason we have installed and introduced ECDIS on a voluntary basis.”
“The Admiralty seminar was very much in line with NYK’s internal strategy,” he adds. “We are already engaged with the processes of risk assessment and installation, establishing procedures as well as creating and conducting training. Now we are entering into the phase of evaluating quality of training and installation and the seminar is consistent with what we have done so far. It gave me additional comfort that we are moving in the right direction.”
For more information about future Admiralty ECDIS workshops, which are free to attend, please visit: www.admiralty.co.uk/admiraltyworkshops
By Neville Smith