Friday, October 29, 2021

ECDIS: is your system updated to the latest IHO Presentation Library?

From Pulse by Emiliano Caroletti, Senior Nautical Instructor, Master Mariner, CertHE (Open),MNI.
It has been already four years since the introduction of the new IHO S-52 Presentation Library, so this topic is well known among the insiders.
I wrote this article with one sole aim in mind, to give clear and simple explanations to a specific audience on a very specific topic.
The targeted audience are young Deck Officers, especially Deck Cadets and Third Mates.
The reason is that they will sooner or later experience a Port State Control inspection, so I tried to give them as much information as possible.
The topic is also quite interesting, one of the first questions asked by PSC officers refers to the ECDIS software update status, a function not used every day by the operators.
I believe that I kept the theory to an acceptable level.
All the resources are referenced with hyperlinks to official sources.
I hope that my effort will be appreciated by the “Captains of the future”.

“Is your ECDIS updated to the latest IHO Presentation Library?”
This is one of the most common question asked during a Port State Control inspection.
Why is it so important to have the latest version of the Presentation Library installed on board?
And what is the correct answer to the aforementioned question? 

The IHO Publication S-52 “Specifications for Chart Content and Display Aspects of ECDIS” provides specifications and guidance regarding Electronic Navigational Charts (ENC) updates and the display of symbols and colours on the ECDIS.
The Annex A of the S-52 is the Presentation Library, this document gives a full detail of colours, symbols and instructions on how ENC database should be displayed on the ECDIS.

In the example below, a cardinal buoy will be coded following the IHO S-57 standard and added to the ENC database.
The Presentation Library installed into the ECDIS will read the code for the cardinal buoy and will search the right symbol to be depicted on the ECDIS.
This process happens for all the objects, lines and areas encoded into the ENC database in real time and at any scale.
Amazing, isn’t it? 


In other words, the Presentation Library embedded into the ECDIS is in charge of transforming a series of coded objects and attributes compiled in the ENC database into objects, lines and areas displayed on the screen.
The Presentation Library also describes how chart updates are displayed and how alerts from the Look-ahead sector and Route Corridor must be visualised.
With an outdated version of the PL installed, the ECDIS is unable to correctly visualise the ENC database, with the result that some symbols and/or areas are not displayed at all.

As stated in the IMO MSC.1/Circ.1503 “ECDIS – GUIDANCE FOR GOOD PRACTICE”; “ECDIS that is not updated to the latest version of the IHO Standards may not meet the chart carriage requirements as set out in SOLAS regulation V/
Any ECDIS which is not upgraded to be compatible with the latest version of the IHO ENC Product Specification or the Presentation Library may be unable to correctly display the latest charted features.
Additionally, the appropriate alarms and indications may not be activated even though the features have been included in the ENC.” (IMO, 2017)

The last sentence is very important because highlight the fact that even if the ENC cell is updated to the latest Notice to Mariners this does not necessarily mean that ECDIS is able to correctly display the objects contained in the ENC database.
The current version of the IHO Presentation Library is the 4.0 issued by the IHO in 2014 and entered into force 1st September 2017, the new PL supersedes the old 3.4 version.

Why has the PresLib been updated?
Between 2011 and 2014 , the IHO was collecting feedback from mariners on display anomalies present in the system.
After 4 years of study, the IHO released the new PL 4.0 and as stated by the IHO; “To address the display anomalies and improve the ECDIS user experience the IHO issued S-52 Presentation Library edition 4.0 in September 2014.
One of the principal benefits of upgrading ECDIS systems to the latest IHO Presentation Library is the reduction in audible alarms, which will ease the issue of alarm fatigue on the bridge whilst maintaining safety at sea.
The introduction of an alert model based on the requirements in the IMO ECDIS Performance Standard will also harmonise ECDIS alarm and indication behaviour across different manufacturers systems.
A few new symbols have also been added to the IHO Presentation Library.
These symbols will identify features that require an indication highlight; the location of automatic ENC updates; and ENC features that have a temporal attribute.” (IHO, 2017).

The new symbols introduced in IHO Presentation Library edition 4.0 are shown below.

What is the impact on shipping companies and mariners?
A clear answer can be found in a document written in 2017 by the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment; “From 31 August 2017, IHO Standards S-52 Edition 6.0 – Chart Content and Display Aspects, Presentation Library Edition 3.4 and Standard S-64 – Test Data Sets Ed. 2.0, are no longer valid for existing systems.
From 1 September 2017 ECDIS systems which do not fulfil hardware and software requirements, and subsequently cannot present ENC’s according to the latest IHO standards, cannot be considered as meeting the chart carriage requirements of SOLAS V reg., nor as meeting the qualification of “up to date” nautical charts referred to in SOLAS V reg. 27.
It is the responsibility of the company and the master to ensure compliance with V/27 and the ensure that the ECDIS application software, and hardware if necessary, is updated before 31 August 2017.
All ECDIS on board, including those, which are not use for primary navigation, shall comply with the latest IHO standards”.

The new IHO ECDIS Presentation Library edition 4.0 clause 19.1 states: “The edition number of the PresLib installed must be available to the Mariner on request”.
This requirement is tested in the standard IEC 61174 edition 4 clause 5.5.1, Presentation library (S 52/Annex A, Part I/19.1) “The edition number of the PresLib installed shall be available to the Mariner on request”.

All Mariners must familiarise themselves with the function in their ECDIS that displays the edition number of the IHO Presentation Library, as this varies across ECDIS manufactures.
This function will be required when Port State Control officers want evidence that the ECDIS is up to date to the latest IHO standards.
MSC.1/Circ.1503 as amended: “Additionally, ECDIS software should be kept up to date such that it can display up-to-date electronic charts correctly according to the latest version of IHO’s chart content and display standards” (IMO, 2017).

There are several ways to access the information regarding the Presentation Library installed in the system.
Each manufacturer has its own way to do it, what all the ECDIS have in common is the possibility to display the ECDIS Chart 1 on the screen.
The ECDIS chart 1 is a legend of symbols used in ENCs and should be installed on all type approved ECDIS.Viewing ECDIS Chart 1, “Information about chart display (A, B)” within the ECDIS will only display the new symbols if the IHO Presentation Library edition 4.0 is installed.

The beacon and buoy features here below display the date dependent magenta ‘d’ symbol when the ECDIS date range is set between 01.04.2014 and 27.08.2014.
It will not be possible to view the new symbols if the ECDIS software has not been updated to use the S-52 Presentation Library Edition 4.0.

This is the method recommended by IHO for checking whether the ECDIS system can correctly display the new symbols.

There is no intention for the IHO to issue a check data set for IHO Presentation Library edition 4.0.

Here we have our answer: each type approved ECDIS is capable to display the ECDIS Chart 1, and if the system is updated to the latest Presentation Library the symbols highlighted in the red circles are displayed.
This is a small but very important piece of the "ECDIS puzzle", the PL is not just an obscure computer program running in the background.
These few Megabyte are controlling if, how and when cartographic information is displayed on the ECDIS, especially dangers and hazards to navigation, therefore the mariner must be aware of its function.


All the screenshots and pictures were taken by the author using a Wärtsilä NACOS Platinum version
Disclaimer: the views expressed herein belong to the writer; they do not necessarily reflect the views of CSMART or Carnival Corporation & Plc.
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