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The rocky road to e-navigation

In addition to advantages, the use of ECDIS is accompanied by potential pitfalls Nobody could ever deny that electronics have provided a huge boon to the shipping industry and its safety. The comforting ability to employ satellites to provide accurate positions, regardless of weather conditions or the distance from land makes shipping more precise and far safer than it was, when a landfall after an ocean passage with no celestial observations was fraught with doubts about the accuracy of the dead reckoning.The arrival of the electronic chart display system (ECDIS) is but the latest stage in this progression, and those who have spent hours correcting their world folios by hand are grateful for the transition. At the same time, just as every technological advance has provided misunderstandings in addition to advantages, the use of ECDIS is accompanied by snares and potential pitfalls for the unwary (and untrained).Just as the "radar assisted" collisions demonstrated the importance of proper theoretical and practical training in the use of the new device, and every advance from ship to ship VHF communication to AIS has seen its share of accidents contributed to by improper use of the equipment, so a number of accidents have shown ...

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AIS reliance may lead to complacency

Warning for negligence of first principles It is a sad fact that virtually every new advance in navigation has brought with it a number of accidents which have been contributed to by inappropriate use of the new equipment, usually because of the neglect of first principles.The term "radar assisted collision" became well-known in the early days of commercial radar and in more recent years, the facility of inter-ship VHF, automated radar plotting aids and sophisticated integrated navigation systems involving computers have all contributed to expensive mistakes, often because of either complacency or inadequate training in the new equipment, which have permitted bad habits to form! The emergence of the Automated Identification System is, without doubt, a great advance, but here too, there is some evidence that its availability to provide useful information on the "other ship" can, like other equipment, lead to complacency. It is also a fact that while it may be a mandatory fixture aboard larger vessels, there are many small leisure and fishing craft which are not so fitted. A fatal accident in the North Sea last year, recently the subject of a report by the UK Marine Accident Investigation Branch, provides a salutary warning on the ...

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Port of Antwerp launches pilot phase of Inland AIS

It will not become obligatory until 1 January 2012 Antwerp Port Authority has launched the pilot phase of the Inland Automatic Identification System (AIS) for barges throughout the port area.Use of Inland AIS by barges will not become obligatory until 1 January 2012. but in the meantime, the pilot phase will make it possible to prepare properly for the full-scale introduction and to fine-tune the system.AIS automatically transmits information concerning the name, position, speed and direction of travel of the barge. Introduction of the system will in the first place benefit safety within the port and permit efficient vessel traffic management.Beyond that the information made available will be of great benefit for making better use of port facilities, managing berths more efficiently, optimising lock operations, dealing more effectively with disasters etc. In the longer term it will be possible to monitor and direct traffic flows proactively from a barge coordination centre.Antwerp Port Authority has taken this decision in the conviction that the introduction of Inland AIS offers advantages for all parties involved. The system also forms part of the "Barge Master Plan," which aims to position barge transport better within the overall flow of freight, both commercially and in the ...

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