ECDIS Stands for Electronic Chart Display And Information System. One of the fundamental aspects of marine navigation is to identify the exact location of your ship. In the olden days, it was done using paper charts (nautical charts).

What is ECDIS?

What are Nautical Charts?

Nautical charts are specially designed special-purpose maps these are designed for safe navigation. Nautical charts are issued by Government Hydrographic Departments. The first two characters of electronic charts indicate the country of origin example CA, UK, US, DE.

Advantages of ECDIS over Paper Chart:-

  1. All information is processed and displayed in real time.
  2. At is a process of passage planning.
  3. One can get all necessary navigational information at a glance.
  4. Alarms and indications are in place to indicate and highlight dangers.
  5. Chart correction is made easier in this as compared to paper charts.
  6. Charts can be tailored as per the requirement of the voyage.
  7. Other navigational equipments such as the AIS, ARPA can be overlaid and integrated.
  8. Charts can be oriented as per requirement.
  9. With the facility to zoom in and out features can be examined as per necessity.
  10. One can obtain a more accurate ETA.
  11. Charts can be interrogated for detailed information.
  12. It enhances the safety of navigation

Safe Navigation:-

The upgrading technology had made a huge difference to Maritime safety. In the past few years, electronic charts have almost entirely replaced the use of paper charts.

In 2008 Rolf Skjong of Norwegian Risk Management Organization, Det Norske Veritas (DNV), wrote in his technical report that full implementation of ECDIS should reduce the grounding incidents by around 19% to 38%.

Types Of Charts:-

  • Raster Charts(RNC):- Raster charts are exact scanned, digital copies of paper charts used for marine navigation produced in a Roster format.
  • Vector Charts(ENC):- Vector chart is very informative; all types of information such as coastal features, objects on land and buoys etc are saved in a different database.
Types of nautical charts
Types of Charts

What is SENC?

SENC stands for System Electronic Navigational Chart. A  database in the manufacturer’s internal ECDIS  format resulting in loose less transformation of entire ENC content and updates database is assessed by address for display generation SENC may include information added by the user or other sources.

Mandatory Requirements: ECDIS

The advent of electronic charts in the 1990s provided ships with additional information, including real-time information which could be displayed on screens on Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems (ECDIS).

IMO adopted performance standards for electronic charts in the 1990s. In 2000, IMO adopted the revised SOLAS regulation V/19

– Carriage requirements for ship-borne navigational systems and equipment to allow an ECDIS to be accepted as meeting the chart carriage requirements of the regulation. 

Recognizing the advantages of ECDIS for navigation, on 1st January 2011 IMO adopted further amendments in SOLAS (Safety Of Life At Sea) regulation V/19, to make mandatory the carriage of ECDIS for all the existing and future ships.

 This very amendment requires all newly built passenger ships of 500 gross to tonnage and upwards as well as newly build cargo ships of 3000 gross tonnages and upwards engaged on international voyages to be fitted with ECDIS.

IMO Performance Standard Required for an ECDIS Display

  • Chart data must be official data.
  • ENC (vector) data must be used if available.
  • Graphic display must meet IMO specification.
  • Equipment must meet full range of Navigational functions capable on a paper chart.

Display Modes For ECDIS

  • Base
  • Standard
  • All Other

ECDIS Compliance

  • Approved address with approved backup.
  • Type approved hardware.
  • Type approved software.
  • Approved installation.
  • Official start services.
  • Training of officers.

Minimum Interface Required

  • Position Sensor
  • Heading Sensor
  • Speed Sensor

Chart Updating

Updates to the chart the shift in various ways depending upon the capabilities of the service provider and the onboard communication facilities.

  • On data distribution media (DVD).
  • As an email attachment (SATCOM).
  • Broadcast message via SATCOM additional communication hardware.
  • As an internet download.

Voyage Recorder

  • Minute by minute recording for the past 12 hours of the voyage.
  • Record of 4 hourly intervals of voice track for a period of 6 months.

DUAL FUEL: This is the use of RMCs when ENCs available with approved paper chat backup.

ECDIS should be able to go to IMO standard display  Made with single operation action (one press of a button).

Key IMO Standard Display Requirement

Functions Available On ECDIS Display

  • Time warning before grounding
  • Safety contour
  • Anti-grounding function 
  • Alarms and Indications 
  • Reduction of cluttering up

Alarms and/or Indications in ECDIS


  • Exceeding cross traffic limits.
  • Crossing selected safety contour.
  • Critical point approach.
  • Different datum from positioning system.
  • Largest scale for alarm(present chart to small scale).
  • Area with special conditions.
  • Malfunction of ECDIS.


  • Chat over scale ( zoomed to close).
  • Larger scale ENC available.
  • Different reference Units.
  • Route crosses safety contour.
  • Route crosses specific area activated for alarms.
  • System test failure.

ECDIS Alarm Requirements

  • Safety contours
  • Areas with special conditions
  • Deviation from route
  • GPS failure
  • Approach to critical point
  • Different geodetic datum
  • ECDIS malfunction

Safety/Contour Settings on ECDIS

DraftSafety Contour
5m or less10m
More than 15m30m

ECDIS Passage Planning

The principal of words planning are the same with act as with paper based navigation:

  • Second officer creates the draught plan, the Master studies entire route, suggests improvement and eventually approves the final plan.
  • All deck officers require breaking on the plan.
  • APPRAISAL:  the first step is to broadly considered the routing and considers factors affecting the voyage.
  • PLANNING:  When planning a route on ECDIS always consider EMC display settings and as which paper used best scale  (1:1). Take time to check and scan routes. It is  advisable to first conduct automatic. Route checking at just the route is time to correct the alerts generated.
  • EXECUTION:  Plan to use all available sources of information should be adjusted throughout the voice to reflect the demand situation.

Limitations Of ECDIS

  • The accuracy of the information received via a is only as good as the accuracy of information transmitted. The same is applicable for all their equipments interfaced with the ECDIS.
  • Position of the ships received on this display might not be reference to WGS 84 datum.
  • Over reliance on actors for navigational safety should be avoided until it is confirmed that all the data transmitted received and displayed are accurate.
  • Users must be aware that any erroneous information is determined to the safety for own as well as  other vessels.
  • Search might like the integrity with regard to accuracy and those that have not been tested.

It is never prudent for the officer on watch to depend solely on the information on the actors it is only an aid to navigation and never replaces the human quotient which brings in the skill and expertise with experience that an ECDIS  can never provide.

Authored By:- Cdt. Sakshi Kushwaha, TS Rehman

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