Programme Topics:

e-Navigation - An Introduction

IALA defines the e-navigation as “e-navigation is the harmonised collection, integration, exchange, presentation and analysis of maritime information onboard and ashore by electronic means to enhance berth to berth navigation and related services, for safety and security at sea and protection of the marine environment”. The implementation of e-navigation involves the development of onboard navigation systems that integrate all relevant ships sensors and supporting information.

The need for e-navigation

There is a clear and compelling need to equip shipboard users and those ashore responsible for the safety of shipping with modern, proven tools that are optimized for good decision making in order to make maritime navigation and communications more reliable and user friendly. The overall goal is to improve safety of navigation and to reduce errors. However, if current technological advances continue without proper co-ordination there is a risk that the future development of marine navigation systems will be hampered through a lack of standardization on board and ashore, incompatibility between vessels and an increased and unnecessary level of complexity.

Vision of e-navigation

A vision of e-navigation is embedded in the following general expectations for the onboard, ashore and communications elements:

1. Onboard
2. Ashore
3. Communications

Objectives of e-navigation

1. Facilitate safe and secure navigation of vessels having regard to hydrographic, meteorological and navigational information and risks;
2. Facilitate vessel traffic observation and management from shore/coastal facilities, where appropriate;
3. Facilitate communications, including data exchange, among ship to ship, ship to shore, shore to ship, shore to shore and other users;

Benefits of e-navigation

The main broad benefits of e-navigation

Basic requirements of e-navigation

A number of basic requirements should be fulfilled as enablers to the implementation and operation of e-navigation. Implementation of e-navigation should be based on user needs not technology-driven and over-reliance should not be placed on technology. Operating procedures should be put in place and kept under review, most notably in relation to the human/machine interface, the training and development of mariners and the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of ship- and shore-based users. The mariner should continue to play the core role in decision making even as the supporting role of the shore-based users increases. Human factors and ergonomics should be core to the system design to ensure optimum integration including the Human Machine Interface (HMI), presentation and scope of information avoiding overload, assurance of integrity and adequate training.

Mariners require information pertaining to the planning and execution of voyages, the assessment of navigation risk and compliance with regulation. This information should be accessible from a single integrated system. Shore users require information pertaining to their maritime domain, including static and dynamic information on vessels and their voyages. This information should be provided in an internationally agreed common data structure.

E-navigation should provide automated and standardized reporting functions for optimal communication of ship and voyage information. This includes safety-related information that is transmitted ashore, sent from shore to ship borne users and information pertaining to security and environmental protection to be communicated amongst all users. Reporting requirements should be automated or pre-prepared to the extent possible both in terms of content and communications technology. Information exchange should be harmonized and simplified to reduce reporting requirements. It is recognized that security, legal and commercial issues will have to be considered in addressing communications needs.

Key strategy elements

The key strategy elements for e-navigation based on user needs include: Architecture, Human Element, Convention and Standards, Position Fixing, Communication Technology and Information Systems, ENCs, Equipment and Standardization and Scalability are detailed below.

Implementation of e-navigation

The governance of the e-navigation concept should reside in a single institution that has the technical, operational and legal competences needed to define and enforce the overarching framework with implementation, operation and enforcement taking place at the appropriate level – global, regional, national or local – within that framework. This approach does not mean that the governing organization has to carry out all tasks in-house – it can delegate as appropriate to competent bodies. Being responsible for establishing mandatory standards for enhancing the safety of life at sea, maritime security and protection of the marine environment as well as having a global remit, IMO is the only organization that is capable of meeting the overall governance requirement.

Implementation plan for e-navigation should comprise a number of component activities which are – Transition planning, taking into account the phasing needed to deliver early benefits and to make the optimum use of existing systems and services in the short term.

The implementation plan should be phased such that the first phase can be achieved by fully integrating and standardizing existing technology and systems (the reduced architecture identified during the gap analysis) and using a reduced concept of operations.

Subsequent phases should develop and implement any new technology that is required to deliver the preferred architecture and implement the overall concept of operations; Identification of potential sources of funding for development and implementation, particularly for developing regions and countries and taking actions to secure that funding; and implementation itself, in phases, perhaps based on a voluntary equipage of (integrated) existing systems to begin with, but with mandatory equipage and use of a full e-navigation solution in the longer term.

Strategy Implementation Plan

IMO has adopted the e-Navigation strategic implementation plan (SIP) in 2014. This plan is based on estimating the effect of e-Navigation applications on reducing navigational accidents, including collisions and groundings of ships falling under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) by approximately 65 per cent. However, IMO Member States are responsible for safety of navigation and efficient vessel traffic at international but also on national levels. Regarding the introduction of new concepts and innovative systems into vessel traffic there is a need to comprehensively assess potential effects not only for SOLAS ships but also for non-SOLAS ships.


The Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) contain all the chart information necessary for safe navigation, and may contain supplementary information in addition to that contained in the paper chart (e.g. sailing directions) which may be considered necessary for safe navigation.

Effective use of ECDIS

When interfaced with navigational sensors, ECDIS is able to provide – Real-time positioning – the actual position of the ship is always known and displayed in real-time, 24-hour all-weather system – ECDIS can be operated night and day in all weather conditions, anti-collision and anti-grounding warnings – especially when interfaced with an ARPA, route planning and monitoring – route planning, monitoring and estimated time of arrival calculations can be carried out. The benefits of ECDIS are only as good as the availability and accessibility of quality assured, official ENC data.

Many ECDISs also have the capability of showing radar, ARPA and AIS data so other ships can also be seen on the ships ECDIS display unit but this in not mandatory. The ECDIS should however not be used for collision avoidance as an ECDIS is not approved as a radar so such information can only be used as an aid to navigation. The ECDIS is used to include the ships passage plan on and it has the ability to analyse the ships route and provide alerts for better ship course control.

An ECDIS can give a quick method of calculating estimated time of arrivals (ETAs) at the port of arrival taking into account the current position of the ship, the distance to go and the tidal rates and directions without doing a complicated calculation. This information gives the officer of the watch the information to accurately adjust the speed of the vessel so that it arrives at the pilot station or start of the pilotage passage at exactly the right time when on coastal passages or approaching the port taking into account the height of tide for entry or any other environmental factors.

e-navigation tools & GHG emissions

It is clear that any reduction in collision and grounding will lead to the reduction of ship generated pollution. The IMO and IALA are also looking at the possibility of using e-navigation to reduce carbon, sulphur and nitrogen emissions from ships. This would be done through more efficient vessel route handling at sea and also while on pilotage and berthing. It has also been proposed to use e-navigation data to audit the measurement of emissions data if and when they need to be reported. The main and fundamental change with the introduction of e-navigation will be the closer relation between the “officer of the watch” on the bridge and the assistance provided from shore-based stations in carrying out the safe navigation of the ship.