The UK Hydrographic Office once again launches into 2013 with its renowned programme of free-to-attend Digital Integration Workshops.  The first port of call will be Limassol, Cyprus on 31 January, followed by workshops in Oslo and Bergen, Norway, Busan, Korea in March and the Sea Asia Conference in Singapore in April.  More dates will be announced for later in the year but if you have any suggestions for where we should visit, please let us know.

The purpose of the workshops is to provide a clear, step-by-step process to support the planning and delivery of compliance with the mandatory carriage of ECDIS.  Most shipping companies are aware of their SOLAS obligations on ECDIS carriage, but the challenge of managing the transition to digital navigation in timely fashion is becoming more pressing.  With a rolling timetable for the introduction of the new regulations on different vessel types and sizes between now and 2018, the next deadline looms large in July this year, when all new cargo vessels over 10,000 gts will come under the revised SOLAS requirements.

As more companies begin planning for the transition from paper to digital navigation, our experts will help to address the practical questions of ship owners and operators about preparing for ECDIS.  The issues are many and varied, but crew training is a perennial concern.  Shipping companies need to know that their bridge officers have undergone the right generic and type-specific ECDIS training.  Other common concerns include meeting Flag State and classification society standards and demonstrating compliance during port state control inspections.

The first workshop of 2013 is taking place in Limassol, Cyprus, on 31 January.  As a major maritime nation, Cyprus is an apt location to begin this year’s programme, both as a significant Flag State and an international shipping hub in its own right, lying at the crossroads of Europe, Asia and Africa.  Cyprus is one of the world’s largest ship management centres and the Cyprus ship registry ranks tenth among international fleets.  Moreover, the shipping waters around Cyprus and across the Mediterranean, which include some of the busiest shipping routes in the world, demand the highest standards of navigation competence and safety, which ECDIS can deliver.

The workshops continue to be led by Captain Paul Hailwood, an internationally respected expert on ECDIS and integrated bridge operations, and Joe Collins, Master Mariner and former Head of the Navigation Safety Branch of the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency.  Delegates will be taken through the stages that they need to follow in order to achieve a safe and efficient transition to digital navigation.  This will include identifying the right ECDIS solution based on fleet-wide and vessel specific risk assessments, meeting their crew training needs, installing ECDIS on-board, developing ECDIS operating procedures and managing the transition from paper to digital charts, as well as complying with all legal and regulatory requirements.

The workshops are all free to attend and places can be booked on the Admiralty website.  We hope to see you in Limassol… or Olso, Bergen, Busan, Singapore or elsewhere later this year!

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