Since the beginning of the 20th century, all the important milestones that we have seen in the maritime industry century, like the SOLAS, the foundation of IMO, MARPOL, ISM Code etc. have contributed to the improvement of our industry. Shipping is one of the safest industries in the world. It ranks at the second position after buses. If you consider that 90% of the world’s trade is being carried by merchant vessels - 42,000 vessels are currently in service- this is pretty amazing. However, does this mean that we have done everything we can and we are super-efficient?

A really nice study by Allianz shows that from 2005 up to 2014 the number of losses is associated with the shipping rules. This means in numbers that for 2014, 75 large ships were lost (total loss according to underwriters) and this was an improvement by 32% on a year basis compared with 2013. It is an improvement by all means, but it is still a large number. The majority of the incidents have been observed at South China’s and South East Asia’s waters which are the most congested places. East Mediterranean and British Isles follow. The underwriters now concern about the risk management issues. They have prepared studies resulting from the sizes of the really large vessels that are now in service, the mega containers, the ultra large ships, showing that one single incident can exceed one billion $ loss. This is a pretty significant loss. For reference, Costa Concordia exceeded two billion dollars lost.

Another important issue is that the hardware of the electronic systems is designed in order to assist the human factor. The human factor is the key. The human factor is really important and we cannot over rely on the existing technology.

Another growing concern is cyber security and cyber protection; it is a topic that will puzzle all of us in the years to come, now that vessels are connected with the offices and there are a number of safety related concerns.

What is the big picture with ECDIS? The goal is simple. The goal is to improve the safety of navigation and to reduce errors. The Nautical Institute says that around 60% of collisions and groundings are being caused by human errors. ECDIS is coming along in order to try and reduce this kind of incidents. As of today almost 60% of the ships in service are using ECDIS. This means that we are on track. All of the new building ships concerning the tankers have already dealt with the carriage requirements and cargo ships and the containers are the ones left to go. This is another milestone for the maritime industry because we are moving from the paper charts to the digital navigation era.

For those of you who have already gone through the exercises, you have seen that this process involves all of the departments in a shipping office (operations, technical, crewing). It involves sitting together and really focusing on management of change, of changing the mentality. In specific, we have to select a user friendly hardware; we have to go and select a maker with global presence. When it comes to training, it should be easily available wherever your officers are. Both for initial training as well as for the refreshment in the years to come. We have to check the hardware specs and also the real availability and capability of the hardware maker and commit to a specific roadmap for a fleet wide installation. We are not only talking about the decision of the hardware installation. It is a complex project. Certainly, the hardware has to comply with all of the latest requirements. It should be compatible with the cartography service providers, which are the major players. Consequently, it gives you a variety of options and of course the display of additional overlay information, as necessary.

This kind of project requires a change in mentality. You have to define which the differences between paper navigation and electronic navigation are. Differences like what is RNC & ENC, what is official and unofficial data. Consult flag requirements per case, phase-in policy. And of course, select the ECDIS maker and the ENC provider. Provide arranged generic and type specific training and proceed with the familiarization and the crew evaluation.


Above article is an edited version of Mr. Yannis Papaeftimiou presentation during the 2016 SMART4SEA Forum

Please click here to view his video presentation


The views presented hereabove are only those of the author and not necessarily those of  SAFETY4SEA and are for information sharing and discussion  purposes only.


About Yannis Papaefthimiou

Papaefthymiou2Yannis Papaefthymiou holds the position of the managing director of FURUNO HELLAS S.A. since 2009. FURUNO HELLAS S.A. is a subsidiary of FURUNO ELECTRIC CO LTD, one of the world’s leading companies in marine electronics industry.

Yannis has an overall experience of more than twenty years in the maritime industry.  He started his career in 1995 as an Operator and then as a Safety & Quality Manager at Pontoporia Offshore ltd and in 2006 he joined Fairport Shipping at the position of General Manager. In 2007, having acquired significant knowledge and experience he founded and directed his own shipping company, Global Gateway Crewing Services Inc, based in Manila.

Yannis holds a Bachelor of Science at Management from State University of New York, New Paltz. Yannis is a keen swimmer.