Thursday, 19 December 2013

Christmas at Martek

The office is covered in tinsel, festive jumpers are once again making an appearance, and we’ve just about recovered from the Christmas Party at the weekend. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

On Friday we supported ‘Save the Children’ as we took part in Christmas Jumper Day. The global charity work to make the world a better place for our children, as ‘No Child is Born to Die’. Their goals are to stop child hunger, protect their wellbeing and provide education for all. We hope we've helped them on their way. Keep up the good work @savethechildren!

Saturday was a time to glam up and dig out the party dresses as we headed to Ponds Forge’s Masquerade Ball. The tradition of the Masquerade Ball was to provide anonymity to a 17th century Europe heavily influenced by the class divides in societies.

Following welcome drinks and a traditional Christmas dinner, The English Gentlemen took to the stage to blast out a few party hits. Here are a few photos from the night for you to enjoy! 

Thursday, 12 December 2013

When is ECDIS mandatory?

As with the BNWAS regulations that preceded them, the regulations that have made ECDIS mandatory (IMO - Solas Chapter V Regulation 19.2) require a staggered compliance schedule based on vessel types.

Newbuild Vessels

Passenger Ships

Passenger Ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards constructed on or after 1st July 2012.


Tankers of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed on or after 1st July 2012.

Cargo Ships

Cargo ships other than tankers, of 10,000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed on or after 1st July 2013.

Cargo ships, other than tankers, of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards but less than 10,000 gross tonnage constructed on or after 1st July 2014.

Existing Vessels

Passenger Ships

Passenger ships of 500 gross tonnage and upwards constructed before 1st July 2012, not later than the first survey on or after 1st July 2014.


Tankers of 3,000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed before 1st July 2012, not later than the first survey on or after 1st July 2015.

Cargo Ships

Cargo ships, other than tankers, of 50,000 gross tonnage and upwards constructed before 1st July 2013, not later than the first survey on or after 1st July 2016.

Cargo ships, other than tankers, of 20,000 gross tonnage and upwards but less than 50,000 gross tonnage constructed before 1st July2013, not later than the first survey on or after 1st July 2017.

Cargo ships, other than tankers, of 10,000 gross tonnage and upwards but less than 20,000 gross tonnage constructed before1st July 2013, not later than the first survey on or after 1st July 2018.

A simplified version of this information can be seen in the table below: 

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Why manufacturers must offer ECDIS leasing

ECDIS, Electronic Chart and Display System, is the name given to the hardware driving shipping’s switch to electronic navigation. Essentially a simplified computer designed for use on a vessel’s bridge, the most basic function of an ECDIS is to display navigational charts on a screen showing the vessel’s position.

It’s the additional functions which really set ECDIS apart from paper charts though – a powerful system of tools, notifications and alerts which provide the navigator with essential, real time information and warnings of potential hazards far ahead of time.

ECDIS alerts the navigator if any sections of the route are considered unsafe based on the vessel’s requirements, this could be as simple as avoiding water shallower than the vessel’s draft or as complex as avoiding heavy seas for a vessel minimising the risk of liquefaction to a nickel ore cargo.

Chart overlays show information of interest on top of the chart itself, including weather and tide forecasts and piracy hotspots. This weather and tidal data feeds into the ECDIS’ automatic, optimised route planning, leading to fuel savings and reduced transit times. More advanced systems also support ice charts for arctic navigation and radar overlay, eliminating the need for two screens and making it easier to cross-reference the information from each piece of equipment.

As well as route planning and ongoing navigation, ECDIS has the potential to make huge efficiency gains within ship management, collecting data throughout the voyage and automatically sending it ashore, allowing for more accurate scheduling and easier maintenance and delivery logistics.

Most importantly though, ECDIS requires a fraction of the work of traditional charts to update, taking a huge burden off the navigator and allowing him or her to concentrate on safe route planning. Even the most basic systems can be updated regularly using a few CDs, while better devices automatically download and install updates and notices to mariners at port or even mid-voyage, meaning an immediate, significant saving on paper charts.

Research from DNV shows that the use of ECDIS may reduce grounding frequency by at least 30%. The third most frequent accident involving ships larger than 100GT, grounding is also the fourth highest contributor to marine fatalities at 12%.

Legally, the argument for ECDIS has been won. Electronic navigation is already required by law on new passenger vessels over 500 GT, new tankers over 3,000 GT and new cargo vessels larger than 10,000 GT. From June 2014 this will be extended to include new cargo ships above 3,000 GT and existing passenger ships built after July 2012 and larger than 500 GT. Two final waves will complete the legislation – existing tankers constructed after 2012 must navigate electronically no later than their first survey on or after July 1 2015, while existing cargo carriers bigger than 50,000 GT and constructed after July 1 2013 must meet the legislation no later than their first survey on or after 1 July 2016.

Despite the enthusiasm of the regulators though, ECDIS was not universally welcomed and lost trust among many users after early issues with the technology, including the lack of a legal requirement for different systems to use the same symbols to denote certain hazards. Meanwhile, opponents say it reduces important navigation skills and leads to decreased vigilance. Stories abound of navigators watching their screen intently as unmarked hazards sail past the bridge windows. After several years of hard work though, most of these issues have been cleared up and ECDIS equipment has emerged as reliable and meticulously thought-through, and opinion is starting to turn in its favour.

The biggest opposition to ECDIS though has always been over the timing of its implementation. Introduced after five years of rock-bottom freight rates and amid a raft of other expensive legislation, including emissions reduction and ballast water management, critics say that ECDIS is important but not urgent enough to justify such short, strict deadlines while owners and operators are struggling with tight margins and a crippling lack of accessible finance.

While legally required to implement ECDIS, there is a danger that companies will do as little as possible to meet the required legislation and wait until the last minute to implement the technology, which would be far more dangerous than continuing to use tried and tested paper charts. If companies use only the most basic functions of ECDIS and crew are not well-trained and comfortable with electronic navigation, there is a risk that we could see more groundings and collisions, all while the technology’s vast potential sits untapped.

This problem can be significantly eased by ECDIS manufacturers, who must make the responsible choice to offer leasing options on their equipment. Leasing is absolutely crucial to give operators and shipowners the opportunity to limit their risk and reap the benefits ECDIS can bring. Early adoption allows crew longer to get to grips with equipment and learn how to get the most from electronic navigation without the pressure of the IMO deadline.

Beyond the safety aspect, the advantages of leasing are numerous. There is no need for a large capital outlay, easing cash flow in difficult circumstances and leaving more money available for essential training.

While technology changes at such a rapid pace, it’s a real disadvantage to be stuck with equipment which isn’t up to date. Leasing allows operators to easily change supplier or system if they feel a better alternative is available and also makes it easier to trial different systems. This flexibility is not necessarily good for the manufacturer, but it is extremely important for the purchaser and the wider industry, because it encourages the innovations that will lead to ever improving safety records and the best possible use of ECDIS’ huge potential.

ECDIS does not have to be a cost - full training, getting the most out of the ECDIS you choose and integrating it with your onshore operation can all immediately lead to increased efficiency, reduced transit and waiting times, and could ultimately lead to savings which cover the cost of the equipment itself. For the good of the industry, manufacturers must make the first step by offering the option to lease a piece of equipment which, implemented in good time and used right, has the potential to prevent more collisions and groundings than perhaps any other single piece of equipment in modern shipping.