This Record of ECDIS Training and Familiarisation will allow officers to record the details of courses undertaken. It also provides a series of check lists that will guide the individual through the process of familiarisation with the ECDIS fit once onboard. It should be used in conjunction with the manufacturer’s operating manual and any other familiarisation aids available, including DVDs or indeed other officers who are competent in the use of the system. Once completed, it will provide an audit trail if needed to satisfy Port State Control requirements. The check lists should be used on joining each ECDIS fitted ship.
The requirement for masters and officers certified under STCW serving onboard ships fitted with ECDIS is that they must undertake an approved ECDIS generic training programme.
Approved generic training and equipment specific courses are available from many colleges and training providers. Equipment specific courses may also come in the form of computer based training packages. This training is necessary to grasp the fundamentals, but the skills learnt can perish quickly if not used soon after. The ECDIS fit onboard may also be very different to that seen in the class room. Thus, in addition to any training received ashore, it is critical that the master and bridge watchkeeping officers are completely familiarised with the ECDIS fit in their particular ship before they need to use it.
Correctly used, ECDIS will ease the burden of voyage planning and help to ensure a safe passage. Indifference or a lack of knowledge of how to, for example, check a route, set the depth alarm correctly, view charts at the correct scale or what to do if GPS fails, will at best give a false sense of security or more likely lead to grounding or some other catastrophe. Some officers may be more confident in the use of electronics such as ECDIS than others, but whatever the differences in background, it is nevertheless essential that all are competent in the use of this crucial equipment.