Since 2002, it has been an option for vessels to be fitted with an Electronic Chart Display and Information System (ECDIS) along with a backup arrangement as a means of fulfilling the requirement under SOLAS regulation V/19-2.1.4 for the vessel to carry nautical charts for the intended voyage. This option was then changed during the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in May/June 2009, where further amendments to SOLAS regulation V/19 were made to make the carriage of ECDIS mandatory.

The implementation was set up on a “roll-out” basis as shown below.

As can be seen from the schedule, the next phase of the roll out is due to come into effect on 1 July 2015. As a result, all existing tankers of 3,000 GT and upwards constructed before 1 July 2012 will require ECDIS to be fitted (comprising both a primary and backup system) not later than the first survey on or after 1 July 2015. In addition to this, companies must ensure that deck officers are trained in the use of the equipment, the changes in the provision of charts and chart corrections to the vessel from shore, and changes in the Safety Management System.

In 2013, it was established that about 30% in tonnage of all maritime trade was conducted by tankers.1This equates to about 8,500 ships.

The majority of these ships in the global tanker fleet have yet to adopt ECDIS, according to data published by the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO).

ECDIS implementation - July 2012 to July 2018

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To date, approximately 3,600 tankers (amounting to 42% of the global tanker fleet) use an Electronic Navigation Chart (ENC) service. This leaves almost 5,000 (58%) tankers that currently do not.

The UKHO data also reveals a significant divergence in the ENC use of the global tanker fleet between different tanker sizes and types. Overall, 23% of the global product tanker fleet of approximately 1,700 vessels is already using an ENC service, compared to 44% of crude tankers and 63% of LNG tankers.

Ensuring that a fleet is compliant can amount to a considerable undertaking, whether this involves the physical installation of ECDIS onboard, the delivery of type-specific training for crew or the necessary revisions to bridge policies and procedures. With only about six months to go until these amendments to the SOLAS Convention come into force for the global tanker fleet, owners and operators of tankers that are not yet ready to comply will wish to ensure they put in place well in advance of the deadline a thorough plan to adopt ECDIS.