Understanding how navigation layers work and what benefits they provide is a crucial part of the navigator’s role. In its latest issued of ‘The Navigator’, The Nautical Institute focuses on navigational layers, as a means to support and enhance good decision-making.
As there is no single ‘best solution’ to manage navigation layers, it is up to the navigator to understand the options available, to assess the situation and to choose the information that is most useful in that moment, noted David Patraiko, FNI, Director of Projects, The Nautical Institute.
Unfortunately there is a wide discrepancy in how systems operate, so make sure you are familiar with the operation of systems on your own ship to get the maximum benefits. As always, it’s good to discuss these issues with your bridge teams in order to share your knowledge and learn from other,
The Nautical Institute provided ten key points for navigators to add to their layers of knowledge:
- Don’t stand alone: Many navigation systems are designed to stand alone (ECDIS, radar, AIS, etc…) but are capable of being integrated.
- Stronger together: Understanding how to manage integrated systems will help you improve your situational awareness and make better decisions.
- Avoid overload: Poorly managed layers can lead to information overload and multiple symbols can mask critical information.
- Fit for purpose: There is no one ‘best way’ to layer. Sometimes radar over ECDIS works well, other times a different set-up is better. Understand the differences and which combination to use. Navigational layers – and understanding how they work and what benefits they provide – are a crucial part of a navigator’s role.
- Association is good: Some systems allow AIS and ARPA targets to be ‘associated’ into one symbol, giving strong support that the two different systems agree – disassociation tells a different story.
- The more you know: Many systems, even those from the same manufacturer, have different control functions. Good familiarisation with your on board system will give you power.
- Not just tradition: Plotting manual Lines of Position on ECDIS and using Parallel Indexing may seem like traditional skills from the paper age, but they are still valid and useful in the electronic age – understand why and how.
- Into the future: In the future, many more ‘layers’ will be available, possibly from optical, satellite or sonar input. Watch out for these and understand how to use them to make good decisions.
- All available means: Integrated Navigation Systems (INS) are a powerful tool when used correctly – but don’t forget your other human tools of sight, hearing, feel, and the mariner’s sixth sense.
- Spread the knowledge: As more tools become available to the navigator we will all need to share this information to learn ‘good practice’. Discuss these issues with your teams; mentoring isn’t just senior to junior, but with this it may be junior to senior.
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