Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


The Electronic Chart Display Information System (ECDIS) is a new and evolving aid to navigation. Proponents claim ECDIS will help navigators to synthesize previously disparate information and result in safer navigation. The technology to implement ECDIS already exists; the major hurdle the maritime community faces is the legal uncertainties associated with ECDIS. This paper investigates the potential legal impact ECDIS would have on the government, shipowners, mariners, and manufacturers, and evaluates current international efforts to promote ECDIS. Through a detailed analysis of admiralty and aeronautical case history, it is evident that; 1) generation of electronic nautical charts can post a great liability risk to manufacturers, and to the U.S. government unless thorough standards are established, 2) it is likely that some shipowners and mariners will be required to utilize ECDIS technology although this requirement will not originate in carriage requirements but through a court action, and 3) international efforts to standardize ECDIS has had poor to moderate success.