Electronic navigation (ECDIS) is to be compulsory. It means that on the one screen, the navigator has his present ship’s position with continuous GPS updating, the charted details of the waters in which his ship is sailing and the radar position of all nearby ships with their AIS, courses, speeds and nearest approach prospects besides much else.

And then it is easy to predict that all too soon the ECDIS will adjust all water depths, for the under keel clearance, to the ship’s actual draft and include allowances for weather, squat and the tidal stream or ocean current with courses to steer, corrected for set and drift.

So the navigation of the ship is becoming totally automated. Perhaps the last thing a ship will need is an actual human navigator. But human beings might still be useful in deterring pirates, handling emergencies – like fires, electronic failures and breakdowns and  handling their ships in confined waters, especially when approaching dangers such as passing through traffic lanes and manoeuvring to take a pilot.

Full article, ELNAVI, March 2013, Issue 471, Page. 61

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