The MoD have today released the inquiry findings into the grounding of HMS Astute off the isle of Sky on October 22, 2010
Click here for the full report and statement.
A number of media outlets have reported on the release and extracted key sections;
The root causes of the grounding were non-adherence to correct procedures for the planning and execution of the navigation combined with a significant lack of appreciation by the Officer of the Watch (OOW) of the proximity of danger. However, a number of additional causal factors were present, including some deficiencies with equipment.
As can be imagined it is a very thorough report and the statement by Rear Admiral Ian Cordner makes it clear that all the recommendations have either been completed or soon will be and the performance of HMS Astute during recent trials with the US Navy were said to have left US personnel somewhat amazed at what she could do but what jumped out from the report, at least for me, was the section on WECDIS.
The recommendations lead to
So the first in Class of the very latest and greatest in submarine technology and let’s not forget, costing a cool billion Pounds each was forced to use paper charts.
Is this some sort of April Fool’s joke, am I missing something?
Genuinely, I have assumed that there must be a sensible answer because this surely cannot be true.
So what is WECDIS?
Basically, its a very clever electronic chart system.
Pop over the the WECDIS site here
Welcome to WECDIS.com, the online home of the naval ECDIS community. The term WECDIS stands for “Warship Electronic Chart Display and Information System” and is also known by some nations as ECDIS-N, where the N stands for “Navy”.
ECDIS systems are the future of navigation at sea, following mandation by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). In a rolling programme from July 2010, all seagoing vessels above a certain tonnage will be required to install an ECDIS. More information about civilian ECDIS mandation is available on the ECDIS Ltd website.
The British Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Fleet Auxillary (RFA) were the first military organisations in the world to fit NATO-standard WECDIS systems to their warships and auxillaries. The initial contract was signed on January 8th 2004.
A rolling installation programme began in July of that year and WECDIS was fitted, first to the capital ships, destroyers and frigates and then in the various survey and minor war vessels.
Since the Royal Navy, other nations have followed suit, including US Coast Guard (August 2007), Royal Australian Navy (October 2007), Brazilian Navy (February 2008) and Royal Netherlands Navy (August 2009).
Possible functions of a WECDIS system may include:
- Monitoring and control of the WAIS transponder including world-wide ship database
- Additional Military Layers (AMLs) for presentation of military information such as tactical areas
- Interface with CMS
- Missile safety zones and gun weapon arcs
- Advanced Pool-of-Errors
- Target Motion Analysis (TMA)
- Intercept point, for estimation of where, when and how own ship can intercept a target
- Screen display for task group tactical manouevres
- Mission recording including navigational data, external inputs and audio
- Display of video from electro-optical (EOD) and CCTV sources
A bit of casual web surfing brings up this link from the Public Technology website in 2004
The introduction of WECDIS will bring an end to the era of using traditional paper charts and the bridge’s navigating table. Official paper charts have been used since 1795.
Defence Procurement Minister, Lord Bach, said:
“Electronic charting is a vital requirement for our Fleet and WECDIS is a world-class system. Enhanced situational awareness will ensure our navigating capability is more accurate, efficient and responsive. I am delighted that such significant technology will be developed and produced in this country.”
The contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin, delivering it with Babcock, Kelvin Hughes, QinetiQ and Offshore Designs.
To quote from Lockheed Martins product page, which has an updated quantity
The system has been installed on 59 Royal Navy ships, 10 submarines, 16 fast patrol boats, 5 SIFs (Shore Integration Facilities), two maintainer training schools, three submarine command team trainers and the surface fleet operator training school. WECDIS installations are planned for a total of 90 platforms including 10 submarines.
But evidently not HMS Astute.
Is this omission just a first of class issue and the Astute class was always planned to have WECDIS or something else.
I assume, by the way, I am off the mark here and there is more to this than meets the eye but still, the report says paper charts.
A bit puzzled to be honest, anyone throw any light on this!