A call for standards on navigational equipment


A British Admirality paper chart and a RADAR without Chart- RADAR function was the equipment we had on board when I started sailing. But times have changed. Ships becoming bigger and bigger, the traffic is increasing and the environment and safety regulations are becoming more and more strict. On board of modern ships and especially big ships, technology is assisting the mariners and indispensable.

Vessels are equipped with ECDIS, ARPA, Chart- RADAR and Integrated Bridge Systems. Sophisticated high end equipment which has to be type approved and constantly updated to meet the minimum requirements for safety on-board.

Manufacturers, classification, societies, Flag States and of course ship owners spend a huge amount of time and money – to assure that the minimum standard of performance and safety is fulfilled. With ECDIS as mandatory and primary means of navigation, the shipping companies are currently heavily investing money in training and updating of their equipment. And while port state control is detaining ships with outdated software on navigational equipment, pilots get on board and start navigating on their – little over the top – free telephone app.

The most critical part of a ship’s voyage is put into the hands of an experienced Pilot, which is good. Don’t get me wrong. But seeing an experienced mariner relying on outdated private chart data, with a questionable presentation of the chart (especially in ambient conditions) and the accuracy of an in-build GPS on his “phone” does not feel good and also not right. Most pilots probably do not need any PPU at all, but if they use one, why should it be less tested and less professional than the equipment on-board?

I am always happy to see Pilots coming on-board, carrying professional grade equipment. It’s an independent system with a high accuracy, long endurance adding value in the form of safety for the passage under pilotage. But how can I trust the recommendation of a pilot when his PPU displays something completely different than my bridge equipment?

The correct display of defined test datasets, the safety of fonts and colors, the mathematical accuracy and many more things can only be tested by experts using advanced test laboratories and standardized procedures. Why is this not happening for portable pilot units?

Let me know your ideas and thoughts!

Mario Gehrke

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Publicado el octubre 26, 2015 en Technical y etiquetado en , , , . Guarda el enlace permanente. Deja un comentario.

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