IHO Tests

Fictitious Electronic Navigational Chart cells issued to verify if ECDIS software is up to date and conforms to the latest ECDIS standards for displaying chart data.

ECDIS anomalies and IHO data checks

The International Hydrographic Organization (IHO) has issued a set of data comprising two fictitious Electronic Navigational Chart (ENC) cells and four sets of tests to check for a number of anomalies or unexpected behaviour in systems and to allow operators to see whether their ECDIS software is up to date and conforms to the latest ECDIS standards for displaying chart data. (Seaways January 2012).

The IHO have advised that, as of end of January 2012, almost 400 reports of checks (covering 15 of the 25 or so manufacturers of type-certified ECDIS) have been received by IHO from sea. Despite this relatively low number of responses, all those reports received by the IHO indicated some level of unexpected behaviour was present on all the systems that were checked. However, at the same time, the nature of the unexpected behaviour was not exactly the same in every manufacturer’s system. While the anomalies range in their potential seriousness for safety of navigation, there were concerns raised over the display of underwater features and isolated dangers; the display of complex lights as intended; the display of ‘submerged wreck – dangerous’ as intended by the standards; the display of ‘underwater hazard with a defined depth’ and the display of Archipelagic Sea Lanes (ASL), Environmentally Sensitive Sea Lanes (ESSA) and Particularly Sensitive Sea Areas (PSSA) properly.

Additionally, about 1 in 2 of the reports showed the ECDIS would not be able to display a ‘new object’ properly if it was introduced by IMO and 1 in 2 of the reports indicated that the ECDIS had limitations in some aspects of the route checking function. We should all be concerned at the number of reports of systems that appear to have shortcomings in the portrayal of important chart data. In order that all mariners using ECDIS are fully aware of any limitations in the use of their particular ECDIS, owners, managers, ship operators and ships’ officers should ensure that they complete the IHO data checks on their ECDIS/ECS and also report the results back to IHO. If you have not yet received the check data it can be downloaded from the IHO website (http://www.iho.int) via the Newslink button on the homepage. An article on the IHO data checks and the legal implications was published in Seaways (January 2012). This can be downloaded from the ECDIS Forum website at: http://www.nautinst.org/en/forums/ecdis/index.cfm In the meantime, Masters may need to take extra measures, such as employing particular equipment operating procedures.

Source: The Nautical Institute, MARS

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