ECDIS Passage Planning & Watchkeeping - 2023 Edition

Number of Pages:
Published Date:
June 2023
Book Height:
300 mm
Book Width:
200 mm
1.9 kg
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This edition sets out procedures for the correct configuration of ECDIS and, utilising the APEM (appraisal, planning, execution and monitoring) methodology, highlights best practices for passage planning and watchkeeping.

This publication equips navigators with a thorough knowledge of ECDIS, contributing towards safer ship operation/navigation and a more effective bridge team. It encourages operators to practise the use of every function and technique available on ECDIS, such as setting correct safety depths and safety contours, as well as understanding topics such as scale minimum (SCAMIN) and alarm management.

Updated ECDIS screenshots and illustrations such as the APEM flowchart aid readers’ understanding of best practice techniques.

This edition of ECDIS Passage Planning and Watchkeeping sets out procedures for the correct configuration of ECDIS and, utilising the APEM methodology, highlights best practices for passage planning and watchkeeping.

An ECDIS operator should:

• Be proficient in setting up the ECDIS, particularly the safety and display settings

• be aware that, while ECDIS may continuously display a ‘position’, it is important to understand how that position has been derived and how to verify its accuracy. The key to effective ECDIS navigation is ‘position verification’ of the current GNSS position. The watchkeeper must regularly verify the GNSS position with LOPs from an alternative positioning method.

Practising the use of every function and technique available on the ECDIS is one of the most effective ways a watchkeeper can maintain and develop their navigation skills at sea. Learning how to use each type of ECDIS thoroughly, and mentoring others to do the same, contributes towards safer ship operation and a more effective bridge team.

In November 2021, the UK Supreme Court reaffirmed the decision that a defective passage plan effectively renders the ship legally unseaworthy. In the case under question, a large container ship went aground. The company was held liable for several million dollars when it was determined that the chart had not been properly updated. It was found that the passage plan (appraisal and planning stages) and subsequent navigation outside a buoyed fairway did not reflect a warning given in a Notice to Mariners.

The warning stated that the depths shown on the chart outside the fairway were unreliable and that the waters were shallower than those recorded on the chart.

The importance of a well made ECDIS passage plan, effectively executed and monitored, should not be underestimated.



ECDIS Passage Planning and Watchkeeping


ECDIS Requirements

ECDIS Standards

ECDIS Training

The Components of ECDIS

APEM Passage Planning

Effective Planning on ECDIS

1 Configuration of ECDIS Settings


1.1 Configuration of ECDIS Sensors

1.1.1 CCRP and Technical Set-up

1.1.2 Sensor Settings

1.1.3 ECDIS Alert Management

1.2 Depth Contours and Safety Settings

1.3 Safety Settings Calculations

1.3.1 Datums and Vertical Clearance

1.3.2 Safety Contour and Safety Depth

1.4 Cross Track Distance (XTD)/Safety Corridor

1.5 Detection Area

1.6 Navigational Hazards

1.7 Isolated Dangers

1.8 Areas for which Special Conditions Exist

1.9 Chart Display Settings

1.9.1 System Units

1.9.2 ENC Loading Options

1.9.3 Display Category

1.9.4 Two/Four Colour Shading

1.9.5 Further Display Settings


1.9.7 Symbols

1.9.8 Standardisation of Symbols, Terms and Abbreviations (S-Mode)

1.9.9 Palette

1.9.10 Chart Legend

1.9.11 Environmental Data

1.10 Ship Display Parameters

1.11 Route Display Parameters

1.11.1 Route Alarms

1.11.2 Other Display Options

2 Appraisal/Information Gathering


2.1 Overview of Appraisal Research

2.2 Destination

2.3 Meteorology

2.3.1 Passage Planning on ECDIS in Ice Regions

2.4 Datums

2.5 ENC Scales and Usage Bands

2.5.1 HD ENCs

2.5.2 Example of Usage Bands

2.5.3 ENC Review

2.6 ENC Management and Installation

2.7 ENC Updates

2.7.1 Chart Subscription Expiry

2.8 CATZOC Review

2.9 Pick Reports

2.10 Other Considerations

3 Planning the Voyage


3.1 Display Configuration

3.2 Route Creation

3.2.1 New Route

3.2.2 Adding Waypoints

3.2.3 Adjusting Waypoints

3.2.4 Route Table

3.3 Mariner-added Objects

3.4 Manual ENC Updates

3.5 Route Check

3.5.1 Configuration of the Route Check

3.5.2 Conducting the Route Check

3.5.3 Manual (Visual) Check

3.6 Route Management and the Voyage Plan

3.7 Master’s Approval and Bridge Team Briefing

4 Execution

5 Monitoring


5.1 ECDIS Handover

5.2 Position Monitoring

5.2.1 Verification Frequency

5.3 Other Watchkeeping Considerations

5.3.1 Waypoint Passing Criteria

5.3.2 Magnetic Compass

5.3.3 ECDIS Safety Settings and Change of Orders

5.3.4 Alarms and Alerts

5.4 Managing the ETA

5.5 ARPA and AIS Overlay

5.5.1 Radar Information

5.5.2 Chart Radar

5.5.3 AIS Integration with ECDIS

5.5.4 AIS Aids to Navigation (AIS AtoNs)

5.6 Anchor Watch Monitoring

5.7 ECDIS Additional Functionality

5.7.1 SAR Patterns

5.7.2 Man Overboard (MOB)

5.8 Logbook and ECDIS Voyage Recording

5.9 Sensor Failure

5.9.1 Heading and Speed Failure

5.9.2 GNSS Failure

5.9.3 Other Sensor Failure

5.10 ECDIS Failure

5.10.1 Software and Hardware Failure

5.11 Cyber Security

5.11.1 Security Drill – ECDIS Cyber Security

5.12 Port State Control and Audits

5.13 Pilotage Considerations

5.14 Effective Monitoring


A ECDIS Checklists

ECDIS Operator Familiarisation Checklist

ECDIS Appraisal and Planning Checklist

ECDIS Pre-sailing Checklist

ECDIS Safety Settings Checklist

ECDIS Handover Checklist

ECDIS Failure Checklist

GNSS Failure Checklist

Anchorage Checklist

B IMO: ‘ECDIS – Guidance for Good Practice’

C ECDIS-related Extracts from U.S. Chart No. 1

Positions, Distances, Directions, Compass

Natural Features

Cultural Features



Tides, Currents


Nature of the Seabed

Rocks, Wrecks, Obstructions and Aquaculture

Offshore Installations

Tracks, Routes

Areas, Limits


Buoys, Beacons

Fog Signals

Radar, Radio, Satellite Navigation Systems


D Display Options

E S-63 Error Codes and Explanations

F Objects Associated with the Question Mark Symbol

Witherbys titles are developed using scripts developed by technical experts that are peer reviewed within work groups. Typically, they seek to improve understanding of the regulations, recommendations and guidelines issued by Industry.

Witherbys staff have significant expertise in the fields of navigation and hazardous cargoes as well as in the presentation of complex subjects in a graphic and easy to understand manner.

Number of Pages:
Published Date:
June 2023
Book Height:
300 mm
Book Width:
200 mm
1.9 kg


Publication Date:
June 2023