THE CHAIN LOCKER
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(Click picture for IHO website)
A little while ago, we had a story on a grounded ship, CSL THAMES, whose crew's ECDIS knowledge was judged to be deficient and a cause of the grounding (see ECDIS Knowledge Deficient on the Categories list on the right side of the page). The MAIB investigators determined that the CSL THAMES' ECDIS equipment was improperly configured for the area being traversed, implying that the crew lacked the knowledge to set it properly. I noted that ECDIS displays can leave out information depending on how they're set up, something that most of you probably know better than I do.

However, it may not have been just the crew's knowledge that was below standard. At least according to this IHO report, which I became aware of compliments of Dennis Bryant's blog   http://brymar-consulting.com/?page_id=6  (An excellent blog, by the way, and a very good source of regulatory developments - check it out!) 

According to the IHO's release  
http://www.navcen.uscg.gov/pdf/electronic_charting/Safety_Notice_ECDIS_14_Mar_2012.pdf   about a third of the ECDIS systems they received reports on functioned 'as expected.' 

However: 'A further third of the systems display all significant underwater features, including underwater obstructions, but the isolated danger symbol required to be shown under certain conditions is not always used.' 

Also: 'Most of the remaining third of the systems reported to the IHB failed to display some significant  underwater features in the "Standard" display mode.' (Emphasis mine) 'Under various conditions, mostly related to safety depth settings and other variable factors, these underwater features can include some types of wreck and other obstructions.  All these features are displayed in the "Full display" or "All display" mode.' 

Finally: 'One manufacturer, Japan Radio Co. Ltd (JRC), has confirmed to the IHO that earlier versions of its ECDIS will not display some types of wreck and underwater obstructions (including stranded wrecks) in any display mode.  This means that, for these models of JRC ECDIS, the mariner must navigate in conjunction with paper charts in order to ensure that all wrecks and underwater obstructions can be identified.'  (Emphasis mine) 'JRC has issued a notice alerting its customers to this problem and will  make an upgrade package available to its customers shortly.'  

See  http://www.jrc.co.jp/eng/product/marine/whatsnew/20100526/index.html   for the JRC announcement, which actually dates from 2010.

So only a third of ECDIS sets in the report performed "as expected" - the rest required extra attention or even software upgrades to display all hazards. That should have the navigators among us thinking. 
As Dennis Bryant noted, it's still premature to discard paper charts! Electronic gear can and does fail unexpectedly. Always have several ways to check your position - don't just rely on the electrons in the "box".