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No 3 – December 2010


in association with


IHS Fairplay’s 2010 ECDIS series is sponsored by

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Inside your ECDIS guide


Food for thought


What is the challenge?


What are the training options?

10 12 14 16

What comes next?

Why training is often the overlooked ingredient in making sure that ECDIS leads to success

The difficulties that ECDIS presents mariners of all ages, and how training can help to overcome them

We explain the Manila amendments, the ECDIS implications of the ISM Code and why there is a variety of training options to choose from

Implementing S-mode and avoiding a checklist mentality – we look at the challenges ahead for crews and the industry

Waiting until the last minute

Why more needs to be done to ensure crews are prepared in time for the 2012 mandation deadline

Strategies for success

Companies outline ways in which they are aiming to put quality ECDIS training on the map

About Jeppesen and Thomas Gunn Information about two leading navigational companies

Images: Dietmar Hasenpusch; Nick Blackmore

e-Navigation, so simple

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ECDIS training


Food for thought ust because you’ve been successful in tracking down the finest ingredients to make a gourmet meal it doesn’t mean that when you place them before a man he automatically acquires all the skills of a chef. As the 2012 ECDIS mandation deadline looms, there has been a tendency in the shipping industry to treat the acquisition of an ECDIS or two (or three) for a vessel as the point at which the road to e-navigation has been travelled. But to make this judgement is to confuse a stepping stone with a goal; merely having the latest shiny piece of kit set up on your bridge will not mean that the seafarer in front of it becomes an expert in its use. This guide, the third in our 2010 ECDIS series, explores the challenges that the industry faces in instituting training on such daunting and revolutionary technology. ECDIS training poses a challenge to almost everyone in the vessel management chain. For senior officers there is the frustration of learning a new technology with utterly different nuances and implications to that which has served the profession well not just for decades but for centuries. For younger officers, the technology may be more familiar and intuitive to use, but those seafarers will be grappling with the learning process without the underpinning knowledge and risk awareness that their peers gained through years of using paper charts. Training institutes face challenges of capacity, with substantial numbers of seafarers to train and limited places to offer. Some have reduced the length of their version of the IMO model course, but you can only cram so much in before the training becomes ineffective. Finally, ship managers will have to deal with the implications of different owners committed to installing different types of ECDIS on their vessels, which will require seafarers to be trained on more than one system.


Nick Blackmore Editor

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Why training matters Our guide sets out the main issues to consider when examining your ECDIS training needs, and looks at what ECDIS manufacturers, chart providers and training establishments have to offer. Beginning on page 4, we outline the challenge that ECDIS training poses for the industry, examining why the change from pencil, eraser, ruler and compasses to layers, pick lists, menus and alarms is such a profound one. On pages 6–9 we guide you through the training options, taking on board the recent ECDIS-focused amendments to the STCW Convention and Code and examining why learning to navigate and learning to navigate safely are not the same thing. The importance of developing a standard menu system for ECDIS and of ensuring that implementation is not left to masters and officers to implement is discussed on pages 10–11. On page 12–13, training companies, ENC suppliers and ECDIS providers tell us why more needs to be done to put training in the spotlight, while on pages 14–15, they explain their strategies for providing successful ECDIS solutions to companies. Because the industry remains in a state of uncertainty when it comes to ECDIS training, this guide perhaps poses more questions than it answers. However, it should provide you with enough information to ensure your own implementation proves a recipe for success rather than disaster.

Image: Shutterstock

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This guide should ensure that your ECDIS implementation proves a recipe for success rather than disaster 03/11/2010 15:10:21



What is the challenge? he ECDIS concept is a total change from using paper charts and the transition poses a challenge to the industry, particularly in training. With ECDIS we are not talking about simply introducing an additional piece of technology, we are replacing the well-established and proven means of planning and monitoring a voyage with an entirely new and distinctive system. In traditional navigation based on paper charts, the navigator gathers information from a variety of resources and makes use of his knowledge to integrate this into passage planning and monitoring of the voyage. Generations of young navigators have been mentored in the ways of chart work by experienced senior officers and by experienced trainers in the nautical colleges. A navigating officer can walk on to the bridge of any vessel anywhere in the world and be able to recognise the detail on a paper chart – and the only tools needed to use that chart are a pencil, eraser, parallel ruler and a set of compasses. With ECDIS, there is as yet no previous generation that is able pass on its knowledge, and today’s navigators have to be IT-literate to cope with the functions of the tools available to them. They not only have to be familiar with the concept of pick lists, ‘layers’, menus and alarms, but also have to understand the diverse means of accessing the information on different makes of ECDIS. They have to be competent in handling this new technology after as little as three days’ training on a generic course and with a few hours of typespecific training on the vessel’s ECDIS. Navigators also have to take on board the scale of an ECDIS display compared with the flat paper chart where all the information needed at the scale of the chart is available. This can be one of the reasons that traditional navigators have been so reluctant to embrace the new technology: the


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The move from paper to digital charts is a fundamental one and it requires effective training Image: Dietmar Hasenpusch

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paper chart spread over 4ft of chart table, giving a full picture of projected route, seems preferable when compared with a layered display on a 23-inch LED screen; maybe if we had 52-inch screens there would be more acceptance.

Making a model professional Generic training is provided by a college or other training establishment and will be based on the IMO Model Course 1.27. The purpose of the model course is to assist training establishments in organising courses that ensure students possess a thorough understanding and appreciation of the operation, capabilities and limitations of using ECDIS. The IMO model course specifies an extremely broad range of topics to be developed by the training institution, all of which have to be understood by the student within a very short period of time. These are: to acquire a thorough knowledge and functional understanding of the basic principles; to demonstrate proper use of the ECDIS equipment, including route planning and being able to select, interpret and display relevant information; and be aware of the limitations of using the technology (over-reliance and complacency). The model course recommends 40 hours of instruction, but most training faculties have reduced the time to 24 hours, spread across three days. Quite frankly, three days is not enough time to achieve these goals; five days should be considered the minimum period needed to acquire the understanding to be able to manipulate the complex menu system. The best that can be achieved is that the student will understand the capabilities of ECDIS and will know that somewhere in the system is the tool to achieve the desired effect. It is only through extensive use at sea, however, that a navigator is able to gain true expertise. Younger navigators, having been brought up in the computer age, are more comfortable with the technology, but they lack the risk-awareness of senior officers. A quick assimilation of the symbols, colours and other conventions of ECDIS needs many days of actual use to build up. This is particularly disconcerting for officers who have been navigating with paper charts all their seagoing life, because they can become frustrated by the length of time taken for assimilation, when compared with their old skills.

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What are the training options? he way ECDIS training is being managed gives cause for concern. There is no harmonised training available worldwide and different countries carry out training using their own interpretation of IMO Model Course 1.27. This ranges from an ‘all-singing all-dancing’ full-mission bridge simulator down to the computer-based training (CBT) package you can access via a PC or a laptop. Training institutions have a finite capacity when it comes to accommodating all the officers who need to go on training courses in the run-up to mandatory carriage. A typical establishment will have between six and 10 ‘ship’s bridges’ with two persons per bridge, meaning that 12–20 people can be trained on one course. Given that the simulators will also have to accommodate students and other mariners on STCW courses, there is a limited capability for many officers to be accommodated. The conundrum shipowners have to solve is that they don’t want to send their officers for training until they have the ECDIS on board their ships, but they cannot have an ECDIS-navigated ship unless the officers are trained in its use.


Why ECDIS is like Excel An officer trained in ECDIS who then joins a vessel with paper charts is a waste of resources, because becoming skilled in all ECDIS functions requires continual practice. If there is a delay between ECDIS training course and getting a ship on which it is in use, much of the knowledge will be lost. This situation is complicated when the navigator is confronted with a system that differs from the one on which he was trained. If the training was well executed, however, then even infrequent use will enable the mariner to gain experience in using ECDIS. An analogy would be a computer

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Training sufficient numbers of seafarers as the 2012 ECDIS mandation deadline approaches will be a major challenge

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program such as Microsoft Excel – you can get training on it, but if you don’t use it continually, or use only a few of the functions, it soon becomes a case of asking yourself “How did I do that last time?” You’re then forced to go to the Help file, where you have to know the right question to ask! ECDIS training does not teach the student how to navigate – that level of knowledge is taught and practised elsewhere. What they are really learning to do is how to use the ECDIS system to navigate safely. Understanding how to navigate and how to navigate safely are two different things. ECDIS courses should not become guided by ‘tick-box’ checklists, though. There should be a test or assessment on the course to show the student’s comprehension and that the requirements of the IMO model course are being met. While the limitations of the system should form part of the training this aspect should not be over-emphasised. As one member of the Nautical Institute Sea Going Correspondence Group (SGCG) pointed out: “I have come across many instances of hesitation and almost fear by navigators to use ECDIS to its full potential. This belief is most often based upon having had instilled in them during training the notion that electronic charts are somehow inherently dangerous. Training should concentrate on the safe, acceptable and advantageous ways to use ENCs.”

Understanding the Manila amendments Training in ECDIS for STCW certification has been addressed by the 2010 Manila Amendments to the STCW Convention and Code. STCW now includes specific mandatory requirements for certification of officers in charge of a navigational watch with regard to the use of ECDIS to maintain the safety of navigation. They include knowledge of the capability and limitations of ECDIS operations, including a thorough understanding of electronic navigational chart (ENC) data, data accuracy, presentation rules, display options and other chart data formats; the dangers of over-reliance on, and familiarity with, the functions of ECDIS required by the performance standards in force; and proficiency in operation, interpretation and analysis of information obtained from ECDIS. The method of demonstrating competence is by examination and assessment of evidence obtained from an approved

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ECDIS training

training ship experience and/or via approved ECDIS simulator training. Part B of the STCW Convention, as amended, now gives guidance on training and assessment in the operational use of ECDIS. This should incorporate the use of ECDIS simulation equipment and conform to the standards specified in the guidance. The training should create a real-time operating environment, including navigation control and communications instrumentation and equipment appropriate to the navigation and watchkeeping tasks to be carried out and the manoeuvring skills to be assessed. It should also realistically simulate ‘own ship’ characteristics in open-water conditions, as well as the effects of weather, tidal stream and currents. In the ISM Code, the shipowner or operator must ensure that personnel become properly familiar with their duties. This applies to proficiency in ECDIS if it is the primary means of navigation on board. The code states: “The Company should establish procedures to ensure that new personnel and personnel transferred to new assignments related to safety and protection of the environment are given proper familiarization with their duties.” It also states: “Instructions which are essential to be provided prior to sailing should be identified, documented and given. The Company should establish and maintain procedures for identifying any training which may be required in support of the safety management system and ensure that such training is provided for all personnel concerned.” This has been taken to mean that users of safety-related equipment, such as ECDIS, must be given appropriate familiarisation with the specific equipment used on the vessel before use at sea. Familiarisation training can be carried out in a number of ways and ideally company policy on this should be explicitly defined.

Many companies, many ECDIS types Management companies have a bigger problem. Managing ships for many owners, who have fitted their own preferred ECDIS models on board, means that officers have to become proficient in the operation of many types of ECDIS. With paper charts a navigator could go from ship to ship and know instantly what tools he was navigating with, recognising all the

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features available on a paper chart, but with different ECDIS they will require a strong mindset to navigate safely. When an ECDIS is fitted on board, either on a newbuild or a retrofit, it is easy to send the officers on a course (if you can find one), and it is relatively easy to have the manufacturer provide initial type-specific training. However, that training only cascades so far, and within a fairly short time, new officers joining the vessel will have lost that training. This lack of ongoing training was manifested in the grounding of dry cargo ship CFL Performer off the east coast of England in 2008. When the ECDIS was fitted, initial training was given to the master, chief officer and second officer who were in post at the time. Training sufficient numbers of The training was specific to the seafarers as the 2012 ECDIS ECDIS on board and consisted mandation deadline approaches of two sessions, each lasting will be a major challenge four to five hours. No trainImage: Transas ing in the use of ECDIS was provided for those officers who subsequently joined the vessel. Of the officers on board at the time of the grounding, neither the chief officer nor the second officer was trained in the operation of ECDIS, though both had used such equipment on previous ships. The passage plan was altered during the voyage, but none of the officers was aware of the significance of key information on the ECDIS such as the safety contour, the safety depth and the shallow and deep contours, and they did not know how to establish a watch vector ahead of the vessel or understand its significance. They also did not know how to use the ‘check page’ to ensure that all course lines and associated channel limits were clear of navigational dangers.

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ECDIS training

What comes next? he ECDIS S-mode was proposed by the Nautical Institute. The concept is for a standard menu system (hence ‘S’ mode) that everybody can recognise and be trained on. When a seafarer is confronted with an unfamiliar ECDIS, S-mode presents a standard menu and allows the seafarer to build their navigational operations upon that foundation. This gives the master confidence that a new officer joining the vessel will be able to use the ECDIS on their first watch because they will be able to use S-mode until familiarising themselves with the functions of the specific model. The seafarer should, of course, have had type-specific training, but S-mode will allow him to be more confident. The standardisation of ECDIS hardware has the potential to put an end to the requirement for type-specific training. However, this discussion shows no sign of ending soon, so the need for this type-specific training continues.


Too much to take on board A major source of concern to many mariners is the manufacturer’s operation manual. Some are in excess of 400 pages, which most officers find unusable, not least because they are often not even specific to the ECDIS model on board. This should be incorporated into a total package from manufacturers, comprising hardware, charts, training and system support – including a comprehensible operation handbook. Typespecific training can be delivered on board by means of CBT modules supplied alongside a support contract that allows crew members to refresh and develop their skills. The SGCG of the Nautical Institute agreed that companies should take a more active role in bridge team management by sending manuals, instructions and circulars to vessels, rather than leaving the implementation to the master and officers – something that is not conducive to good team management. “Companies should send ‘task force’ teams, which should, as ultimate solutions, go on board ships and make practical

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training on equipment,” commented one member. “Another possible way of training and familiarisation could be a longer handover period between deck officers (eg a week at sea), where new joining officers should have a dedicated task to make ECDIS familiarisation.” The mariner has to be trained to be thoroughly aware of what is not displayed as well as what is displayed. Otherwise, key information and functionality can be out of sight and out of mind. Configuration awareness is the key to avoiding this problem, because an assumption that what is displayed is all that is needed may not be true for a given geographical area. If the configuration awareness is not fully correct, then a navigation decision could be based on incomplete information.

Be enlightened about ECDIS Image: Shutterstock

ECDIS manufacturers continue to hone their designs for ease of use Image: Nick Blackmore

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Although ECDIS courses should not follow a ‘tick-box’ approach, it is a good idea to issue a familiarisation checklist to all officers joining a vessel that uses ECDIS as the primary means of navigation. The Nautical Institute has produced such a checklist as a useful way of checking the functionality that should be understood, as well as guidance on how to access and use the equipment before it is operated at sea. This list can be found in the NI publication ECDIS and positioning. Enlightened owners will already have addressed the new mandatory carriage requirements of ECDIS and have fitted, or will be fitting, them to their vessels. After all, ECDIS is supposed to save money and improve safety. If this is the case, then owners should be taking advantage of the technology now by fitting ECDIS to their vessels and training their officers. Owners who wait until the deadline for mandatory carriage of ECDIS on their fleet need to be aware of the mathematics of the situation. Training places at colleges and training institutions will be at a premium for the foreseeable future with thousands of officers requiring ECDIS training. Over time, ECDIS will certainly change the task of navigating, but it is vital to ensure that the core skills and abilities that form the foundation of traditional maritime navigation are not lost or diminished. The time savings that use of ECDIS brings can then be applied to increase the overall situational awareness on the bridge – for instance, by increased observation from the bridge windows.

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ECDIS training

Waiting until the last minute I

Image: Shutterstock

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f you want to know how important it is that shipping gets its house in order when it comes to ECDIS training, you need only speak to the nautical colleges that are tasked with delivering that capability. One lecturer at a nautical college pointed out that the complexities of learning how to use different types of ECDIS were often underestimated. The way in which two ECDIS devices from different manufacturers are operated can feel as profoundly different as driving two cars of varying engine size and type. Another lecturer delivering short course ECDIS training remarked that he had heard of seafarers turning off safety alarms on an ECDIS simply because they didn’t understand them. “ECDIS is an entirely different way of navigating,” he remarked. The message from ECDIS manufacturers, software suppliers and training companies is clear: more needs to be done to ensure crews are able to use ECDIS before the 2012 IMO mandation kicks in. The deadline is approaching fast, and some shipping companies are simply not yet aware of the pressing need for training. “A comparison between the number of seafarers needing training, the time necessary to take a course and the available course openings suggests a shortfall,” said Jeppesen Norway director Tor Svanes. “Some ships risk not being able to trade because the officers lack a necessary certificate. Based on past experience, there is no indication that flag state or port state authorities will show any leniency in this respect.” “ECDIS is a major change in navigation and it is of the highest importance that officers are trained in it,” Pat Scanlan, regional sales executive at international Admiralty chart agent and navigation services provider Thomas Gunn Navigation Systems, explained. Scanlan believes that the uptake of ECDIS training, particularly in the retrofit mar-

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ket, has been slow, and he believes that it will not take off until 2014, when existing vessels must begin to implement the technology. “The danger is that companies will leave things until the last minute,” he warned. “Schools won’t have the capacity to cope with the demand for training. We advise our clients to think well ahead and not leave it to the last minute to train their crews.” The company provides a range of products as part of its service packages, and training forms a key part of the process. The company currently has alliances with training company Mobile Marine Technology to provide such services, as well as with Norwegian ECDIS manufacturer Maris.

Examining the total cost Maris itself is keen to point out the need to consider not only training costs in the total spend on ECDIS implementation. “You could buy a single ECDIS for less than $15,000 (and a dual ECDIS for double that amount), but ECDIS training could easily amount to more than that for a ship’s crew,” the company’s deputy chief executive, Steinar Gundersen, outlined, ticking off the cost implications of training fees, travel and subsistence costs for staff, and salaries. Working with training company Seagull, Maris has developed an advanced training module for onboard ECDIS training to be included within the Seagull library of CBT modules. Gundersen said the training courses would represent “a world’s first”. ECDIS manufacturer Transas shares concerns that companies may want to save some money on training or may not invest in training at all. Nautical superintendents are expected “to save costs at all costs”, said the company’s training manager Björn Röhlich. This means the crews are deployed on board a vessel on short notice with no overlap time or training. Svanes of Jeppesen commented: “Numerous accidents, including Cosco Busan and Shen Neng 1, are at The fact that training can represent a least partly attributable to poor interaction between major additional cost when bringing ECDIS on board is often forgotten, says OOW and electronic charts and/or ECDIS settings.” He Steinar Gundersen of Maris pointed out that operational pitfalls include “the failure to use electronic charts set at an appropriate scale Image: Maris and failure to revert to the standard display mode”.

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ECDIS training

Strategies for success hart providers, ECDIS manufacturers and training companies are united in one belief – that investing in navigational skills for staff will lead to safer seas and greater savings. “ECDIS is an incredible contribution for increased safety and security at sea, but it needs to be operated by skilled and trained personnel,” said Willy Zeiler, marketing and communication manager at Jeppesen Marine. Zeiler’s colleague Tor Svanes does raise concerns about the level of training being offered in some quarters. “It is clear that the range and depth of topics covered by the course demand a more rigorous approach than can be provided in one or two sessions,” he commented. Type-specific training (“a ‘buttons and knobs’ course”) should not be overlooked, he added. “Even if the chart presentation and ECDIS functionality is standardised, the human-machine interface from one make to another can differ considerably,” Svanes noted, pointing out that “it can be compared to operating a PC versus a Mac; they do much the same thing, differently”.


Deciphering the symbols PC Maritime supplies ECDIS marine software and electronic charts. Chief executive David Edwards warned that: “A lack of understanding of ECDIS features, such as the symbols on the screen, can seriously affect an operator’s ability to plan routes and identify dangers.” PC Maritime offers remotelearning solutions, but he insisted that simulator time and face-to-face training remained crucial elements in the process. The company offers training using its typespecific system, Navmaster ECDIS, which can supply both generic training and type-specific training. The system consists of type-approved ECDIS software that can operate on standard PCs and networks. It is being used at the Maersk Training Centre in Newcastle, north-

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ECDIS will increase safety and security only if it is being operated by skilled and trained personnel, said Willy Zeiler of Jeppesen Image: Nick Blackmore

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east England, where it is connected to a ship simulator. The fact that the system can support large networks is a major bonus, PC Maritime believes. Anders Rydlinger, product manager for navigation systems at manufacturer Transas, agreed that training is the key to success when a shipowner decides to invest in ECDIS. “With a proper training programme in place prior to the installation the owner will benefit from day one, starting to save time and money in the same way as he enhances the safety of navigation.” Transas training manager Björn Röhlich added that training is “the core element for a safe and cost-effective transition from paper charts to ECDIS”. “Today we see a dramatic change in the training environment,” Röhlich noted. Major shipping companies are now avoiding low-cost training facilities in favour of manufacturer-supported facilities or in-house options where quality can be better controlled. New requirements introduced by the STCW Convention and Code could lead to training bottlenecks, as companies strive for compliance, he added. “Our goal is to join forces with our customers to match the high demand for quality training,” Röhlich said. “We created GET-Net: the Global ECDIS Training Network, which consists of premium training providers partnering with Transas.” All the training institutes involved have qualified Transas instructors and can offer the same courses all over the world. Navigation systems supplier Kelvin Hughes is taking an approach to training that integrates it within a broader package of ECDIS solutions. It has launched the ECDIS Plus suite, a modular service that aims to take owners through the complete migration to e-navigation, from hardware supply through to training. Its flag-state-approved course is based on the IMO 1.27 model and aims to teach the navigator to get the most out of the company’s MantaDigital ECDIS. The focus of the training is not on navigation but on enhancing navigational safety. “Some larger companies may not need as much training from us or have an infrastructure for paper charts, but we can fill in those gaps wherever they are,” David Cooke, managing director of chart business at the company, reasoned. He added, however, that a holistic solution is necessary, because with regard to ECDIS, “People fear that it will get less safe before it becomes more safe.”

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ECDIS training

About Jeppesen Jeppesen is a leading provider of solutions that support decisionmaking in commercial maritime operations. As such, we contribute to the safe operation of thousands of commercial ships and shipping companies around the world. Our clients rely on us for electronic charts such as ENCs, weather and met-ocean data, weather routeing, voyage optimisation and added-value information services, such as our piracy update. We were one of the first companies in the world to offer digital chart data to commercial shipping, and we are fast becoming one of the world’s leading suppliers of official chart data (ENCs). Our solutions for licensing and updating of charts and navigation-related data are among the best in the business. For more information, email or visit

About Thomas Gunn Navigation Services Thomas Gunn Navigation Services Ltd has been serving the professional mariner in the SOLAS-regulated market for more than three decades and is the world’s market-leading Admiralty digital chart agent. Thomas Gunn Navigation Services Ltd offers the total ECDIS solution with its recently launched NAVECDIS. Now updated to the revised performance standards (MSC232 (82)), ThomasGunn NAVECDIS meets the latest ECDIS specification, and is logical to use within a familiar MS Windows environment and the design ensures that additional features do not distract the user from core navigation tasks. As well as NAVECDIS, Thomas Gunn Navigation Services Ltd also offers the Admiralty Vector Chart Service (AVCS), a comprehensive and official worldwide SOLAS carriage-compliant vector chart service. The company will also be launching version 3 of its Voyager Digital Update Service, which provides the mariner with weekly updates to the British Admiralty notices to mariners, tracings, m-notices, AVCS and digital publications via web service or email communication. For more information, please email or visit

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Jeppesen OnBoard means a weather information service that integrates completely with our charting solutions


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