By George O'Young
2009-10-26 12:00 AM
Held over three days from October 19 to 21, IEC09 involved more than 300 international delegates and speakers from 19 maritime organizations and authorities.
IEC09 is a timely parallel to major preparations and adjustments by the shipping community to implement ECDIS, due to the International Maritime Organization's (IMO) recent announcement of the six-year timeline for mandatory ECDIS carriage from year 2012.
During the conference, practical implementation issues like training, equipment retrofitting and costs were covered. Authorities and existing ECDIS users also provided guidance and firsthand experiences to this important e-navigational technology.
As the world's busiest port, Singapore has already been harnessing the capabilities of using Electronic Navigational Charts (ENCs) on ECDIS. ECDIS and ENCs have been proven to be effective, and are the optimal alternative to paper nautical charts.
ECDIS is capable of easing the management of larger vessels, reducing crew numbers and acheiving safer, higher speed voyage. ECDIS has advanced route planning functions and provides accurate ship position information for more precise navigation, contributing to reduction in ship fuel consumption.
Singapore has been supporting efforts to invest in and upgrade infrastructure for the provision of ENCs. This includes chairing the East Asia Hydrographic Commission (EAHC) that produced the first South China Sea ENCs in 2005, together with other EAHC members consisting of China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, North Korea, Philippines, South Korea and Thailand.
The cooperation between Singapore and the other two littoral states, Indonesia and Malaysia, has resulted in ENCs for the Straits of Malacca and Singapore, a key waterway for international shipping. The Batam-Rempang-Galang (Barelang) Singapore ENCs by Singaproe and the Indonesian Hydrographic Office was produced to cover key ferry routes and terminals in Riau and Singapore to enhance navigational safety of high speed passenger ferries that cut across the Singapore Strait.
Using the latest technologically advance survey system, Singapore will be working with Hong Kong to jointly produce the first high-density ENC with more detailed seabed topography for selected channels within Singapore and Hong Kong's port waters.
For ECDIS to be fully utilized, it is vital to produce equality ENCs and harness its usage. Co-organizers UKHO and MPA's decade-long partnership in promoting the awareness and use of ECDIS will extend beyond IEC09, as they jointly conduct the region's first accredited cartographic and ENC training next year.
Lam Yi Young, chief executive of MPA, said "MPA and UKHO have been partnering each other to promote ECDIS even before our first international ECDIS Conference and Exhibition in 1998. We actively inform and educate users about ECDIS so as to promote and increase the stage of this technological milestone in nautical charting that contributes to safer and more efficient shipping"
"As the 2012 timeline for mandatory ECDIS carriage draws near, it is important for the maritime community to come together and address implementation issues like equipment installation, crew training and the production of quality ENCs. This transformation from paper nautical charts to e-navigation is a global effort that will involve the whole maritime community," he added.
In 2009, the IMO announced the six-year timeframe for the mandation of ECDIS as a carriage requirement for large passenger, tanker and cargo ships from year 2012.
ECDIS implementation timeline:
n New passenger ships above 500GT, from July 1, 2012
n New tanker above 3,000GT, from July 1, 2012
n New cargo ships above 10,000GT, from July 1, 2013
n New cargo ships above 3,000GT, from July 1, 2014