All bridge officers should have general ECDIS training that follows the IMO Model Course 1.27. Additional equipment-specific training for the ECDIS model in use onboard is required for every ship, according to the ISM Code. Until the 1st of January 2012, when the new STCW code will include mandatory ECDIS training, two important shipping regulations must be followed.

The IMO Standards for Training Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) require the OOW to possess a “thorough knowledge of and ability to use navigational charts and publications” and also “skills and ability to prepare for and conduct a passage, including interpretation and applying information from charts, must be evident”.

The second important regulation is the IMO´s International Safety Management code (ISM). It states: “The company should establish procedures that personnel (…) are given proper familiarization with their duties and equipment”. This strict wording refers to the training of users of safety-related equipment, such as ECDIS. They must receive appropriate training to the systems in use on a particular vessel prior to use at sea.

An ECDIS manufacturer should be able to provide both generic and equipment type specific training either onboard or ashore with a designated crew of highly qualifiedtrainers. Some manufacturers even offer computer based or distance learningconcepts which can be combined with simulator training ashore.

Training objectives
The overall objective of ECDIS training is to enhance navigation safety. In rather general terms, this includes
• Safe operation of the ECDIS equipment
- Use of navigational functions of route planning and monitoring
- Proper action in case of any malfunction

• Proper use of ECDIS-related information
- Selection, display, and interpretation of relevant information
- Ambiguities of data management (“datum”)
- Assessment of alarms and indications

• Awareness of ECDIS-related limitations
- Errors of displayed data and their interpretation
- Real and potential limitations
- Over-reliance on ECDIS

• Knowledge of legal aspects and responsibilities related to electronic charts
- Awareness of the status of ECDIS and ECS; of official and non-official data
- Limitations of RCDS mode

In order to achieve these objectives, the mariner must acquire a thorough knowledge and functional understanding of the basic principles governing ENC data, its proper display in ECDIS and its use with navigation sensors and their respective limits.

Ideally, the training should cover the full extent of functions and procedures necessary to deal with a wide range of possible navigational problems. It should cover thorough route planning and both visual and automatic route monitoring in typical navigational situations and sea areas. To prepare a user for practical operations, decision-making and alarm han¬dling, real-time complex ECDIS simulator.