The ECDIS Manual

Published Date

October 2019

The ECDIS Manual

(Excludes any applicable taxes)

This new edition of the ECDIS Manual is an up-to-date guide to the use of electronic chart display and information systems. It sets out the current regulatory resolutions and compliance requirements and then looks in detail at the use of electronic charts and ECDIS software and functions.

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Understanding ECDIS and selecting the right ECDIS solution is vital for ensuring the safe and precise navigation of a vessel on track, and on time. The ECDIS Manual, written by and for ECDIS navigators, draws on the knowledge of leading ECDIS experts and manufacturers, as well as calssification societies and NGOs, to support a vessel's transition to digital navigation in accordance with IMO, IHO, Flag State, PSC, ISM, SMS and SIRE requirements.


This publication is a comprehensive guide to the use of ECIDS systems. It outlines the history and development of digital navigation and provides detailed explanations of electronic charts and operating systems, supplemented by over 500 screenshots and colour images. It includes familiarisation checklists for a number of different systems, as well as the CIRM GL-001 Guideline for ECDIS Performance Test Procedure. The book also summarises the contributory factors in several ECDIS-related incidents.




ECDIS Abbreviations and Useful Info

Photo Acknowledgements

Foreword by Admiral Nick Lambert, Former National Hydrographer UKHO

About ECDIS Ltd

1 History of the Electronic Chart

1.1 International Agreement

1.1.1 Early Solutions to Comparing Radar and Charts

1.1.2 From Navigation Aids to Navigation Systems to Bridge Systems

1.1.3 Types of Electronic Position-Finding Equipment

1.1.4 Integrated Bridge Projects and Bridge Mechanisation

1.1.5 Inventing Electronic Charts: The First Generation

1.1.6 Creating Official International Standards

1.1.7 UKHO ARCS (Admiralty Raster Chart Service)

1.1.8 Organising Worldwide Digital Chart Production

1.1.9 Third Generation Vector Charts, 1995 to 2010

1.1.10 Commercial Electronic Charts for the Leisure Market, 2005 to 2010

1.1.11 Fourth Generation Electronic Charts with Passage Planning Tools, 2010

1.1.12 Fifth Generation Electronic Charts, 2018

2 ECDIS Regulations

2.1 The IHO

2.2 International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC)

2.3 International Maritime Organization (IMO)

2.3.1 IMO Resolution MSC.232(82)

2.4 CIRM

2.5 Date Changes in Performance Standards

2.6 IMO Circulars

2.7 Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention

2.7.1 SOLAS Ch V, Regulation 2, Part 2

2.7.2 SOLAS Ch V, Regulation 19, Part 2.1.4

2.7.3 SOLAS Ch V, Regulation 19, Part 2.1.5

2.7.4 SOLAS Ch V, Regulation 27

3 ISM and Flag Compliance

3.1 Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping (STCW) Convention

3.2 International Safety Management (ISM) Code

3.3 Generic ECDIS Training

3.4 Type-Specific and Familiarisation Training

3.5 Safety Management System

3.6 Flag States

3.7 Flag State ECDIS Requirements

3.8 Port State Control (PSC)

3.9 Further Legal Considerations

3.10 SIRE

3.11 ECDIS Operator’s Responsibility

4 The Electronic Chart

4.1 Introduction

4.2 Electronic Chart Data

4.2.1 Definitions

4.2.2 Vector Charts

4.2.3 Defining a Vector Chart

4.2.4 Varying Standards of Vector Charts

4.2.5 RENC

4.2.6 The Basics of ENC

4.2.7 Hydrographic Office Approved Electronic Charts

4.2.8 Use of Data

4.2.9 Unofficial or Private Data

4.2.10 Classification of Official Data

4.2.11 Flag State Adoption

4.3 Integrating Digital Publications

4.3.1 Flag Approval

4.3.2 TotalTide

4.3.3 Admiralty Digital List of Lights (ADLL)

4.3.4 Admiralty Digital List of Radio Signals (ADRS)

4.3.5 Admiralty e-NPs

4.4 Creation of Electronic Chart Data

4.4.1 Datums

4.4.2 Horizontal Datum

4.4.3 Vertical Datum

4.4.4 Polar Latitudes

4.5 Understanding the Electronic Chart

4.5.1 Interrogation

4.5.2 Scale

4.5.3 Scale Display

4.5.4 Pre-selected Display Layers

4.5.5 SCAMIN

4.5.6 SCAMIN (Disabled)

4.5.7 Scale Category

4.5.8 Scale 5 and 6 Differences

4.5.9 IHO Scale Categories

4.5.10 Construction Considerations

4.5.11 Disparity and Standards between National ENCs

4.5.12 Source Data Diagram

4.5.13 CATZOC

4.5.14 Current ENC World Coverage

4.5.15 AVCS Regional Folios

4.5.16 Digital Chart Catalogues

4.5.17 E-Navigator and Chart Management Tools

4.5.18 Data Management

4.6 Latest Performance Standards

4.6.1 Introduction

4.6.2 S-52

4.6.3 S-57 Transfer Standard for Digital Hydrographical Data

4.6.4 Presentation Independent of Data

4.6.5 Presentation Library (PL) – Version 4.0

4.6.6 S-63 Data Protection Scheme for ECDIS

4.6.7 Permits/Licences

4.6.8 SENC

4.7 ECDIS Chart Products and New Layers (S-100)

4.7.1 Introduction

4.7.2 S-100 IHO Universal Hydrographic Data Model

4.7.3 S-101 ENC Product Specification to replace S-57

4.7.4 S-102 Bathymetric Surface

4.7.5 S-104 Water Level Information for Surface Navigation

4.7.6 S-111 Surface Currents

4.7.7 S-121 Maritime Limits and Boundaries

4.7.8 S-122 Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)

4.7.9 S-123 Marine Radio Services

4.7.10 S-124 Navigational Warnings

4.7.11 S-125 Navigational Services

4.7.12 S-126 Physical Environment

4.7.13 S-127 Marine Traffic Management

4.7.14 S-128 Catalogue of Nautical Products

4.7.15 S-129 Under Keel Clearance Management (UKCM)

4.7.16 S-201 Aids to Navigation Information

4.7.17 S-211 Port Call Message Format

4.7.18 S-240 DGNSS Station Almanac

4.7.19 S-401 Inland ENC

4.7.20 S-402 Bathymetric Contour Overlay for Inland ENC

4.7.21 S-411 Sea Ice Information

4.7.22 S-412 Weather Overlay

4.8 RNC Charts

4.8.1 The RNC

4.8.2 RCDS Management

4.8.3 RCDS and Appropriate Paper Charts

4.8.4 Appropriate Portfolio of up-to-date Paper Charts (APC)

4.8.5 Risks to be Considered

4.8.6 MCA MGN 285


5 ECDIS Software and Functions

5.1 ECDIS Definition

5.1.1 ECS Definition

5.2 Sailing Paperless

5.3 Alternative ECDIS Screen Displays

5.4 Cyber Security Awareness

5.5 Presentation Independent of Data

5.6 System Electronic Navigation Chart (SENC)

5.7 Investigating Chart Features/Pick Report

5.8 Colour Schemes

5.9 Chart 1

5.10 Setting up the Display

5.11 Selecting Traditional Chart Symbology

5.12 Velocity Vectors

5.13 Defining Safe Water

5.13.1 Multiple Depth Shades

5.13.2 Parallel Index Lines (PI)

5.13.3 Limiting Danger Lines (LDL)/No-Go Areas

5.13.4 Clearing Bearings

5.13.5 User Maps

5.14 Manual Chart Updates

5.15 Official Chart Updates

5.16 Distribution

5.17 Licences and Permits

5.18 Verifying Chart Updates

5.19 Admiralty Information Overlay (AIO)

5.20 Sensors

5.20.1 Continual Fixing Options

5.20.2 NAVTEX

5.20.3 Track Control System (TCS)

5.20.4 Calibrations/Offsets CCRP

5.20.5 Redundancy of Sensors

5.20.6 Verifying Ship’s Position

5.20.7 Radar Image Overlay (RIO)

5.20.8 ARPA

5.20.9 AIS

5.20.10 Echo Sounder

5.20.11 Visual/Radar Fixing Routine

5.20.12 Manual Fixing

5.20.13 Dead Reckoning (DR) Mode

5.20.14 Estimated Position (EP) Mode

5.21 Errors and Alarms

5.21.1 Definitions

5.21.2 The Human Element

5.21.3 Chart Inaccuracies

5.21.4 Datum Shift

5.21.5 Indications during Route Planning

5.21.6 Alarms during Route Monitoring

5.21.7 Sensor Alarms and Indications

5.21.8 Windows Operating System

5.22 IHO Dataset Check

5.23 Route Planning

5.23.1 Principles of ECDIS Navigation

5.23.2 Chart Notes

5.23.3 Creating a Route

5.23.4 Editing a Route

5.23.5 Measuring Tools

5.23.6 Channel Limits

5.23.7 Checking a Route

5.23.8 Import/Export

5.24 Route Monitoring

5.24.1 Configuring System for Sea

5.24.2 Activating Route Monitoring

5.24.3 Position Monitoring

5.24.4 Check Area/Anti-grounding/Safety Frame

5.24.5 PL 4.0 - Developments Related to Chart Alerts

5.24.6 Chart Orientation and Own Ship Motion

5.24.7 Route Display Options

5.24.8 MOB/SAR

5.24.9 Manual Events on Passage

5.24.10 IMO Back-up Requirements

5.24.11 Power and Blackout

5.25 IMO VDR Requirements

5.25.1 VDR Benefits and Recommendations

5.25.2 Playback

5.25.3 Voyage Data Log

5.26 ECDIS Screen Capture

Annex A ECDIS Familiarisation Checklists

Annex B CIRM Guideline



The economic constraints of modern shipping signify more often than not that we are navigating to rigid time scales, in hazardous conditions, with less support. Being able to perform safe and precise navigation on track, and on time, is fundamental. ECDIS was designed to give the mariner greater spatial awareness in increasingly dangerous and hazardous conditions. After all, things happen quickly at 20+ knots and often the nearest point of danger is just below your keel. Understanding ECDIS and selecting the right ECDIS solution is vital when you consider that there are currently 27 diverse manufacturers, several providers of approved ENC and RNC charts, and varying standards of training. In 2009 Mr Malcolm Instone, Director of Operations to ECDIS Ltd, paraphrased Murphy’s law:

“Choose the wrong ECDIS solution, and you won’t see the light at the end of the will see the light of the oncoming train.”

Sadly for some, he was right.

The ECDIS Manual has been written by ECDIS navigators for ECDIS navigators. The manual is about sharing best practice and ensuring that the transition from ‘sail to steam’ is efficient and safe. The principles of navigation have not changed, but the art of navigation has. With the right training and to some degree the right ECDIS, you can replace paper charts with an ECDIS in all operating conditions – even when GNSS is unavailable, contrary to common misconception!

This manual, in conjunction with the leading ECDIS experts, manufacturers, international organisations and leading societies, has ultimately been the hard work of the author Mr Peter Thornton MBE. Peter is a traditional ‘paper’ Master Mariner who made the transition to digital navigation. He has navigated for 15 years across the world, berth to berth, utilising different ECDIS systems, developing an immeasurable experience of the good, the bad and the ugly of ECDIS navigation. His contribution to the digital transition is unsurpassed.

The manual has been written to support a vessel’s transition to digital navigation in accordance with IMO, IHO, Flag State, PSC, ISM, SMS and SIRE requirements. It only leaves me to thank Peter, Priscilla and Mal without whom it would not have been possible.

Mark Broster


Managing Director


Title: The ECDIS Manual
Subtitle: Second Edition
Number of Pages: 172
Product Code: WS1701K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-844-1 (9781856098441), ISBN 10: 1-85609-844-3 (1856098443)
Published Date: October 2019
Binding Format: Hardback
Book Height: 350 mm
Book Width: 217 mm
Book Spine: 15 mm
Weight: 1.20 kg

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