Interschalt advises STCW signatory Germany and helps to improve ECDIS Model Course 1.27
At the request of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Affairs (BMVBS), Interschalt joined the German delegation attending the London meeting of the 43rd Subcommittee on Standards of Training and Watchkeeping (STW) of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) in May 2012. Serving as a consultant, Interschalt, which is headquartered in Schenefeld, Germany (near Hamburg), made important suggestions and proposals aimed at improving basic training in the area of the ECDIS (Electronic Chart Display and Information System). The gerneric ECDIS training is build on the revised ECDIS Model Course 1.27.
A mandatory ECDIS demands qualified personnel
Since July 1, 2012, an ECDIS has been mandatory on all newly built passenger ships with more than 500 gross tonnage (GT) and newly built tankers with more than 3,000 GT. For ships already in service, the requirement for a mandatory ECDIS will be phased in step by step as of July 1, 2013, respectively as of July 1, 2014. ECDIS training courses are intended to ensure that crews are able to operate the complex systems properly Besides displaying electronic charts, these systems also receive input from numerous sensors that has to be correctly evaluated by well-trained, capable users. Back in the year 2000, the IMO had already specified its ECDIS training requirements. Revision of the IMO Model Course 1.27 began in 2010. The most recent adjustment of the content of the ECDIS training course (based on a draft submitted to the STW's 43rd Subcommittee) was made in May 2012.
Flexible training replaces standardized questions
Interschalt itself already offered ECDIS training courses for many years. Based on its experience in this area, Interschalt submitted several suggestions for improving the training program One of it was to revise the ECDIS Model Course draft submitted to STW 43, which was a fixed list of minimum requirements comprising 60 topics. On behalf of the German delegation, INTERSCHALT proposed that trainers develop individual instruction modules built on a basic catalogue of ECDIS course topics. This flexible approach yields the following major training benefit: instructors will now have to carefully consider the objectives, scope, focus and content of the material to be covered. Afterwards they can use the final test to better assess how well course have been conveyed.The newly amended IMO Model Course 1.27 provides them with the necessary freedom and flexibility to achieve this.
Better preparation for coping with software problems
In addition, Interschalt also advocated on behalf of the German delegation that participants of training courses be better prepared to deal with the operational anomalies that may be encountered when using ECDIS software - such as problems resulting from the inability of older software versions to properly display chart objects - by making them aware of these risks and teaching how to best handle them. In fact, the new ECDIS training program contains a section focusing on this very topic. In general, its purpose is to make sure that course participants are aware that ECDIS software is not infallible and will always be prone to having some unanticipated operational issues. By now specifically raising awareness of possible software faults and malfunctions, ECDIS training will help to considerably improve navigational safety.
No more brand-based content
Yet another shortcoming of the draft revision was its use of system/model-specific terminology. In the future, training materials will contain generic system descriptions, incorporate standard, brand-neutral wording from IMO documentation and no longer refer to equipment made by a given manufacturer. Due to the efforts made by INTERSCHALT on behalf of the German delegation, it will now be easilier to make use of the IMO ECDIS Model Course 1.27. The elimination of brand-based contents enabled including other topics such as the previously mentioned training in increasing awareness of the need to recognize and respond to possible faults/malfunctions in ECDIS software.
Interschalt's own training program and simulator
In its own course portfolio, Interschalt offers specific training on systems from various manufacturers next to generic ECDIS courses approved by the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency (BSH). Throughout the training the up to 12 participants will get a well balanced mixture of theory and practice. With the recent amendment of the ECDIS IMO Model Course, the simulator-based practical training has now become more complex and more focused. What's more, Interschalt's training program now directly applies the lessons learned while serving as a consultant at the London IMO conference. During the ECDIS training a mid course evaluation has to be conducted. To be allowed to take part in the final test, participants must first pass the intermediate one with a score of at least 70%. Furthermore, the German Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency has the opportunity of spot-checking tests. Upon successfully completing a course, participants receive an official certificate of achievement. The positive feedbacks received from course participants confirm the high standard of training available at Interschalt.