IMO moves closer to standardisation and safer navigation


A sub-committee under the International Maritime Organization (IMO) have forwarded three documents for adoption in June, moving one step closer to the adoption of a standardised system for electronic navigation.

This year’s Navigation, Communication, Search and Rescue sub-committee (NCSR 6) took place from 15-25 January in London.

The work to standardise the display of bridge equipment started at IMO level in 2015 and throughout the process, the end user - the navigator – has been in focus. A correspondence group was formed consisting of a number of member states and various international organisations representing different industries. Over the next three years, the group worked on formulating and improving a set of guidelines for the design of navigational related data on bridge equipment.

An improvement to safety

This work is now complete and three important measures were agreed upon at the NCSR sub-committee meeting. All three documents have now been forwarded to the Marine Safety Committee (MSC) for adoption in June this year.

Once completed, all new Radar, ECDIS and integrated navigational displays (INS) from 1 January 2024 and all other displays on the bridge from 01 July 2025 will display information in a harmonized manner.

“This development is an important step which will bring great benefits to the seafarers. In the future, they will be able to easily familiarise themselves with the different bridge displays. In fact, the number of hours spent on familiarisation training can be reduced,” says Ashok Srinivasan, Manager, Maritime Technology and Regulation at BIMCO and part of the sub-committee.

“Above all, this will greatly assist the navigator in making better decisions and greatly contribute towards improvement in safety of navigation,” Srinivasan says.

The three documents that will be up for adoption at the IMO’s MSC meeting in June are:

  1. Guidelines for the standardization of user interface design for navigation equipment (Standardized mode). The formulated guidelines will apply to navigational equipment such as Electronic Chart display and information system (ECDIS), Integrated Navigation systems (INS) and Radar equipment.
  2. Guidelines for the presentation of navigational-related symbols, terms and abbreviations (SN.1/Circ.243.Rev1). These guidelines have been completely revised.
  3. Performance standards for the presentation of navigation-related information on shipborne navigational displays (MSC.191(79)). These standards have been amended.

An example of this (once the standardisation is adopted) is when the user selects radar default settings. Here, all radar equipment - irrespective of the make or model - will display exactly the same information.

Another example is that “True motion reset” can be performed by the touch of a single button on both ECDIS and Radar, across all makes and models. The functionalities will be standard across all Radars, ECDIS and Integrated Navigation displays on all ships, paving the way for smooth familiarisation and operation of these systems.


Mette Kronholm Frænde
in Copenhagen, DK


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