The Art of Dredging

Dredging and shipping



IMO backs mandatory ECDIS

July  3  2008

The years of debate about the mandatory carriage of ECDIS (electronic chart display information systems) seem to come to a conclusion.

In IMO’s subcommittee on navigation members have reached a consensus in favour of making ECDIS mandatory for ocean going vessels.

2012 has been mentioned as a possible implementation date, but this is still subject to confirmation.

Last year’s meeting of this committee also considered mandatory ECDIS, and featured an in-depth study by Det Norske Veritas (DNV) outlining some of the safety benefits that could result from carriage of ECDIS.

These proposals were rejected then, and the consideration of mandatory ECDIS postponed until this year’s meeting.



For new build passenger ships of 500 gt and above and tankers of 3,000 gt and over, ECDIS becomes compulsory from July 1, 2012, and for other newbuilding vessels at dates up to 2014. For existing vessels the phase in period is from 2014-2018, depending on type and size, although there is an exemption clause for vessels within two years of their end of life.

It would seem that the arguments of  some IMO-members have now proven convincing enough for the subcommittee to accept such a move this time around, and that ECDIS will become a standard feature in future vessels.

Ecdis reduces the risk of groundings

Electronic charts may prevent one in three groundings

If Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS) are made mandatory on board ships, the number of groundings is likely to be reduced by a third according to a study carried out by Det Norske Veritas, a Scandinavian classification society.


Read the full study: (download)

The effect of ECDIS has been documented in previous studies.

The main finding in the DNV study is that the coverage of electronic charts in coastal waters is already very good and improving:

  • The global coverage of suitable electronic navigational charts in coastal areas currently lies between 84% and 96% and is expected to increase to 87–98% within a few years.
  • The coverage of suitable electronic navigational charts along selected routes considered representative of worldwide shipping varies between a minimum of 28% and a maximum of 100%.
  • 36% of the selected representative routes already have 100% coverage in coastal areas.
  • For five of the seven routes currently without 100% coverage, an increase in coverage is planned for the near future.

Grounding – the second biggest risk
For many ship types, collision is the dominant risk, while grounding is second. In a previous study DNV has documented that ECDIS is a preventive measure, reducing the probability of grounding by well above one third when electronic nautical charts are available.

Should be mandatory
“These results support that an Electronic Chart Display and Information System should be implemented as a mandatory requirement for most ships,” comments DNV’s CEO Henrik O. Madsen. “Besides, the more ships that install such equipment, the more electronic charts are likely to be produced.”

The DNV report, which used the Formal Safety Assessment and the IMO risk evaluation criteria, concluded by recommending a relatively fast implementation plan.


Subscribe to our newsletter:

Write us: (at)

Manu's scripts

- a sailor's fifth column


Oops! This site has expired.

If you are the site owner, please renew your premium subscription or contact support.