On the eve of its latest product launch, maritime electronic navigation specialist MARIS has moved to reconfirm that its ECDIS solutions meet performance standards set out by the International Hydrographic Bureau.
MARIS is due to launch its ECDIS900 version 126.96.36.199 this month, with all of its distributors set to be notified when the software is released so that they can down-load software from MARIS ftp-servers.
IHO has long expressed concern that some ECDIS may not display certain combinations of chart features and attributes correctly and on rare occasions may fail to display a navigationally significant feature. According to IHO, “This appears to be caused by anomalous behaviour in some ECDIS software, especially early versions.”
In the run up to the launch of its 188.8.131.52 system, MARIS has responded directly to a latest IHO circular, issued in February and addressed to hydrographers, which makes explicit the intergovernmental body’s understanding of the scale of the problem.
The circular, ‘Update Report on IHO Action concerning ECDIS Software Issues’, signed by IHB Director Robert Ward, cites an IHO ENC Data Presentation and Performance Check whose findings were submitted to the IMO Maritime Safety Committee in May.
IHO said that it had checked the performance of systems from 15 out of 25 recognised manufacturers of type-approved ECDIS, many of which included the most well-known brands in the industry. It reported that only one third of the systems scrutinised functioned as expected.
MARIS Technical Director, Philippe Kah, said that it had been deemed critical that the company took swift action to ensure that its software was acknowledged as meeting the standards being set for ECDIS by the IHO, given that mandatory ECDIS will be phased in across the industry from July, 2012.
“As part of the consultation process between IHO and ECDIS manufacturers, we have put our systems through the stringent tests set by the IHO and submitted our report to them, along with the test support documentation and screen dumps required in the latest circular, ” he said. “The previous generation ECDIS900 did not match the exhaustive criteria set out in the IHO report in four minor areas, none of them critical, but we have been able to advise our distributors that the new ECDIS900 V184.108.40.206 is fully compliant with IHO tests.”
In its latest reports, IHO concluded that up to one third of systems failed to display some significant underwater features in the “Standard” display mode. In a further third of cases, the underwater isolated danger symbol was not always used.
Mr Kah welcomed IHO’s invitation to all mariners to scrutinise ECDIS equipment themselves, using the IHO ENC Data Presentation and Performance Check. “As far as we are concerned, the more information available confirming that MARIS software meets IHO standards, the better.”
MARIS is a limited company with its head office in Tønsberg, Norway, a recognised centre for maritime information technology. The company has delivered thousands of navigation systems to customers world-wide. The majority owner is the Grieg Group (www.grieg.com). The Grieg Group has a long and proud maritime tradition. Today, the Group operates globally within a variety of business areas; shipping, global logistic services, shipbroking, maritime information systems, investment consulting and fish farming. The Grieg Group has about 1, 700 employees. The roots of MARIS go back to the start of the maritime information technology explosion in the mid 1960s. MARIS is a system house with world-class experience in on-board systems. Innovative engineering has added several ´world firsts´ to its list of milestones. Among them our ´Wheelmark´ certified ECDIS and PC Radar/ARPA, IEC 60945 certified Flat Panel Com¬puter and S-VDR/ECDIS COMBO. MARIS is working with the UKHO to develop The Admiralty Navigator.