NorthStandard ECDIS Training Assessment provides platform for best practice


( Strong uptake and owner endorsement of a new ECDIS Training Assessment platform developed by NorthStandard in collaboration with the UK Hydrographic Office show how digital tools can overcome enduring maritime challenges.    

As the first product in its Get SET! digital portfolio, NorthStandard’s ECDIS Training Assessment (ETA) platform sets the pace for a range of innovative Safety & Efficiency Technologies (SET) from the club supporting best practice in maritime operations.

Rapid uptake of ETA, designed to enhance individual and collective knowledge of electronic chart display and information systems, shows members will move forward quickly with new training initiatives when solutions are both effective and easy to use.

With over 3000 seafarers across over 700 ships taking part in the assessment since the January launch, and nearly 400 new users added in the last month demonstrate ETA is growing quickly.

The achievement reflects the fact that ETA addresses a specific issue in maritime safety, according to Colin Gillespie, Global Head of Loss Prevention, NorthStandard, and gives owners a self-assessment training tool to do something about it.

“While ECDIS is generally considered an excellent navigational aid, there have been concerns in the industry that the training required for its implementation may be insufficient, leading to misuse, misunderstanding, and navigational errors potentially resulting in serious incidents,” he explains. “It was in response to these concerns that we collaborated with the UK Hydrographic Office to develop ETA.”

Early adopters of ETA include Sea Traders, a Greek shipping company with a large and diversified fleet and a strong focus on navigational safety.

“At Sea Traders, we are committed to maintaining the highest safety standards by continuously improving our navigation procedures with the goal of eliminating navigational incidents,” says Captain Nestor Grigoropoulos, Sea Traders’ HSSE Manager and DPA. “To achieve this, we employ a pool of highly skilled and fully certified masters and navigation officers, implement safe navigation procedures, and analyse the results of navigational assessments.

“So, when we received an email from NorthStandard announcing a new ECDIS navigational self-assessment tool, we knew we could make good use of it.”

Using a smart phone, tablet, or computer, crew members take a multiple-choice assessment to identify weaknesses or gaps in their ECDIS skills, promoting self-evaluation and continuous learning. The assessment can be retaken as often as needed – at no cost to members. With repeated use over time, ETA helps seafarers to sharpen their awareness and skills, stay up to date with new developments, and ensure ECDIS best practice remains front of mind.

The platform also generates a consolidated fleetwide report, anonymised at the crew-user level, to help shipowners evaluate deck officers’ ECDIS proficiency and pinpoint areas for training development. Furthermore, to help crews and members act on assessment results, NorthStandard has produced a suite of training materials including an onboard training pack.

“We initially despatched ETA to our masters and bridge officers as per NorthStandard’s instructions – but without the accompanying training pack,” says Capt. Grigoropoulos. “Then, without prior notification, we invited them to complete the self-assessment within seven days. Upon completion of the assessments, we received the results from all relevant crew, categorised by rank.”

The idea, Capt. Grigoropoulos explains, was for Sea Traders to evaluate its masters’ and navigation officers’ level of familiarity with ECDIS and identify strong points and possible weaker areas related to navigational safety. Based on the results, the company initiated a navigational ECDIS safety campaign, with actions including increasing the number of remote assessments using VDR, implementing focused training by its marine superintendents visiting its vessels, and reducing the interval period of internal and third-party navigational audits and assessments.

Sea Traders also evaluated its computer-based training material against the ETA material and requested that its manning offices review the generic and specific ECDIS training provided at the company’s training centres to include – as a minimum – the information from the platform.

In addition, as part of pre-employment requirements, Sea Traders’ navigation officers will now have to pass ECDIS tests based on the ETA contents.

“Lastly, we dispatched the training pack to all our crews and informed them that the assessment would be repeated at regular intervals to continuously evaluate our masters’ and navigation officers’ ECDIS performance,” says Capt. Grigoropoulos. “All in all, ETA is a useful tool for any member that wishes to assess the level of navigational safety on board its vessels.”

According to Gillespie, Sea Traders’ implementation of the platform has been exemplary. “How Sea Traders uses ETA perfectly showcases the power of digital technology to enhance expertise and uphold best practice in maritime operations,” he says. “We look forward to collaborating further with Sea Traders and Captain Nestor towards our common goal of optimised navigational safety.”



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