The goal of e-Navigation is to develop a strategic vision for the integration (where appropriate and justified) of existing and future navigational tools, in particular electronic tools, in an all-embracing system that will contribute to enhanced navigational safety. For over 10 years, ICS has participated in the development of the concept since its inception at IMO, but there is growing concern that it has yet to deliver clear benefits for the shipping industry.

In June 2015, the IMO Maritime Safety Committee considered proposals, co-sponsored by ICS, for additional outputs to support e-Navigation, five of which were agreed while another on harmonising maritime service portfolios (MSPs) will be reconsidered in 2016. Priority is being given by IMO to ensuring that performance standards for integrated navigation systems, and guidelines on ship reporting mechanisms, are updated to reflect the opportunities provided by e-Navigation.

ICS is also engaged with the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities (IALA) and its work on MSPs and supporting systems, as well as the International Hydrographic Organization’s (IHO) work on its S-100 standard (dealing with geographic standards for hydrographic and maritime use).

Meanwhile, 2015 saw a change in focus for the EU’s multi-million euro Monalisa 2.0 project on Sea Traffic Management (STM) and Collaborative Port Decision Making. ICS understands the potential benefits of the STM Validation Project but questions whether shore based co-ordination of international shipping can improve upon the levels of safety and efficiency delivered by professional bridge teams. The outcome of the STM Validation Project is awaited with interest.

ICS is also involved in discussions that started at IMO in 2015 about a ‘Maritime Cloud’. However, ICS remains sceptical about the justification for this work. While cloud based computing solutions can certainly assist shipping companies to enhance the efficiency of their operations and manage the costs of IT infrastructure, the case for a federated, single Maritime Cloud is unconvincing. It has been further undermined by the absence of detailed consideration of alternative technologies within the ongoing IMO Review of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS).

ICS continues to engage with e-Navigation and related projects because of the potential opportunities to improve the efficiency of ship operations and enhance safety. However, the industry needs to see some tangible outcomes. In this respect ICS will continue to push for e-Navigation to support further automation of pre-arrival reporting to relieve the burden on Masters resulting from ineffective implementation of single windows, notably in Europe. It might not be the whole solution, but e-Navigation should in theory be able to provide mechanisms to help address aspects of this growing area of concern.

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