ECDIS mandatory


How to get ready for the ECDIS carriage requirement?

The first step is to determine the effect on your fleet, when your vessels have to be ready to comply with the new carriage requirement. From 2012 onwards to 2018 all IMO vessels over 10,000 GT on top of other vessel types specified in the table below are requested to install and operate ECDIS. Please refer to the below overview to find the implementation schedule for your vessels. Vessels may be exempt from this obligatory carriage of ECDIS if they are taken out of operation in less than two years after the implementation date.

Implementation schedule for mandatory carriage ECDIS

At the NAV-54 work group assembly in 2008, IMO has decided to make ECDIS mandatory for all IMO vessels > 3,000 GT(passenger vessels > 500 GT) with a transitioning period as shown below.
The new carriage requirement is for one ECDIS with suitable back up arranagements, which can be fulfilled either by a type-approved backup ECDIS or official, up-to-date paper charts.

Approval from the Authorities on compliance of mandatory carriage of ECDIS

The implementation of ECDIS installation onboard vessels will need to be type-approved and they have to issue a certificate of compliance which is used by the classification society, the port state control and vetting administration to ensure that the vessel is in full compliance with the requirement to carry type approved ECDIS with suitable back-up facilities. In some cases you can expect that port state control or vetting administration will verify if the crew is properly trained and has a sufficient understanding of the operation of ECDIS.

Why choose ECDIS?

Besides that ECDIS will become a mandatory system onboard vessels, the implementation and use of ECDIS provides a wide range of advantages. It makes the voyage planning easier by allowing optimization according to time, speed and other parameters, and any modification is accomplished by a simple drag and drop action or by a click and inserting a modified value. It gives a reason for better safety in the voyage planning by taking the ship’s draft into consideration when planning the route and combine this with dangerous areas or areas of special attention. Part of the planning job is the chart management, and this is made easier by using official electronic navigation charts (ENC) or ARCS. Updating charts can be done either from a CD-ROM/DVD received from the chart vendor or via satellite using an intermediate PC onboard or through a direct connection to the ECDIS through Service Gateway. If additional charts are required they can be bought via e-mail or from the internet, while onboard. This all saves time and resources on the bridge, which can be used for other important tasks.

When performing the voyage the navigator can be advised by the ECDIS if he is in his planned track and if he is approaching shallow water and dangerous areas. The ECDIS monitors the data received from the many navigation data sensors connected to the ECDIS and the ECDIS validates the data and emits a warning signal or alarm in case ECDIS detects that navigation data are corrupted. In addition, the ECDIS can be preprogrammed to indicate to the navigator on watch if the vessel has reached a position or area which require special attention by the navigator or planned actions.

The ECDIS logs the navigation data and chart usage during the voyage and this data is available for reporting after the voyage is finished.

Chart management

ECDIS can operate a variety of charts. The official charts are known as Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) and Admiralty Raster Chart Service (ARCS) . The charts are made and distributed by the hydrographic offices through a distribution network and the vessel has to subscribe to the chart service. ENC are vector charts, which are provided in the S-57 format. ARCS charts are raster charts and can be considered as being a scanned paper chart.
All flag registers accept ENC charts, which is not the case with ARCS charts. You, therefore, have to check with your flag register on what charts they accept. Many ECDIS can, in addition to the official chart materials, operate private charts, which do not comply with the carriage requirement set out by IMO. The private charts are often provided in the official S-57 format. Please consult your flag register and your chart supplier when you select your electronic charts.



  • Electronic Navigational Chart

  • Raster Navigational Chart

  • Electronic Navigational Chart

  • Raster Navigational Chart


Glossary for Electronic Charts to be used with ECDIS

Electronic Navigational Chart: Official vector chart containing a database of individual geo-referenced objects taken from Hydrographic Offices' documentations and record, inclusive of paper charts. It is issued for use with ECDIS on the authority of national hydrographic offices.
Raster Navigational Chart: Digital copies of paper charts complying with IHO S-61 Product Specifications for Raster Navigational Chart, authorised by national hydrographic offices. Some flag states allow RNC to be used for back-up purposes in the areas not covered by ENC.
System Electronic Navigational Chart: ENC dataset converted into the system language of the ECDIS, which facilitates rapid chart drawing of the ENC data on the ECDIS.
ENC Chart data format defined by IHO Transfer Standard for Digital Hydrographic Data
IHO defined symbols and colors for chart presentation
IHO Data protection (encryption) scheme for ENC against unautorised amendment or illegal copying
CM-93Edition 3
Distribution format for C-MAP electronic charts intended to be used in ECDIS and similar systems.

System configurations

General Preparation for Mandatory ECDIS

As part of the preparation you will also have to consider the back-up arrangement for ECDIS if you want to have your fleet operate without paper charts. Another possibility is to upgrade your bridge system to include additional functions such as TCS made possible by ECDIS. The installation and operation of ECDIS has to be approved by the flag register.
The back-up arrangement can be either up-to-date paper chart folio covering the area of operation or an additional ECDIS. When using a back-up ECDIS, it is required to be mounted in the main bridge. By using single or dual ECDIS solution, you can benefit from the easy chart management and update as well as the increased safety provided by the ECDIS. Below system diagrams show the two solutions which have been described.


Diagram for Standalone ECDIS Configuration
Up to date paper chart covering the area of operation required


Diagram for Dual ECDIS Configuration
For paperless operation


General Preparation for Mandatory ECDIS: Possibility through ECDIS integration to the navigation bridge

When introducing ECDIS onboard a vessel you might be able to connect the ECDIS to the radars to allow for transfer of route information to the radar display and radar overlay and TT data transfer to the ECDIS. Another possibility is to upgrade the steering system to perform track control by adding a track pilot, which is connected to the ECDIS. The track pilot is receiving the steering instructions from the ECDIS and performs the steering according to the set parameters in the ECDIS. The Track Control System –TCS– can transfer the track pilot data to the radar to allow the display of curved EBL, which is a feature that shows the turn to be performed by the TCS as a curved EBL on the radar. This way the navigator can predict the turn circle and determine if the turn is in accordance with his intentions. Please note that when upgrading to the bridge system, you will need to obtain acceptance from the flag register and the classification society.


Interconnection Diagram for Dual ECDIS with Track Control System
For Paperless operation


General Preparation for Mandatory ECDIS: Extended system suggestions using ECDIS

Voyage planning can be performed using the back-up ECDIS as long as it does not affect or disrupt the navigation performed by the Officer of the Watch (OOW). Alternatively, ECDIS for voyage planning can be installed at the voyage planning work station, which allows for voyage planning without disturbing the navigation performed by the OOW. Please note, however, that the back-up arrangement has to be approved by the flag register.


Interconnection Diagram for Single ECDIS with Route Planning ECDIS
Up to date paper chart covering the area of operation required


Interconnection Diagram for Dual ECDIS with Route Planning ECDIS
For Paperless operation