Department for Transport

Navigation, Radar & ARPA Simulator Training (Master Yachts)


This module will be conducted over a minimum period of ten days, or 60 hours, of formal instruction.


This module will contain sections on the Collision Regulations,  Passage Planning, Search and Rescue (IAMSAR),  Electronic Navigation Aids, ECDIS, AIS, radar and ARPA (Target Tracking).  It will contain simulation navigation exercises to demonstrate competency in planning and monitoring techniques,  blind pilotage,  collision avoidance and a practical exercise in Search and Rescue.  The structure of the module will incorporate at least five days use of an MCA type-approved Radar and Navigation Systems Bridge Simulator.   A minimum of three days will be devoted to tuition in the practical use of ARPA (target tracking).   The practical use of ECDIS for passage planning and monitoring must be exercised sufficiently to demonstrate navigational competence in the use of ECDIS.

The assessment will be in two parts:

1.  In-course practical assessment:    Candidates MUST satisfactorily complete the in-course assessment before they are eligible to take the written exam.  The in-course assessment will consist of:

  • Preparing a detailed passage plan for a passage, or port approach, in estuarial or coastal waters.  This plan may be selected as one of the passages run in the simulator.  Successful completion of a series of simulator exercises, demonstrating competence in:

            i  General navigation including the use of electronic navigational aids (including radar,  ARPA and ECDIS),  
            ii.  Thorough understanding and application of the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (ColRegs).

2.  A written 3 hour exam.  The written paper will include a radar plot, questions examining the candidates’ under pinning knowledgea and may also include passage plan.

To achieve a pass a candidate must obtain at least 60% in all parts.

Passage Planning

Appraisal and planning

1   Identify most suitable route – consult all relevant documentation

a)  Pilot book information:  shallow patches, restricted areas, conspicuous landmasses, offshore dangers,  etc
b)  Set courses on charts,  berth to berth,  between points of departure and destination
c)  Prevailing currents and tides (heights and directions) in relevant places
d)  Reporting areas, VTS and other communication requirements
e)  Pilotage area requirements
f)  Identify and highlight dangers on the charts
g)  Assess and allow suitable margins of safety from dangers
h)  Weather throughout route,  winds,  potential fog,  ice and any other aspect including TRS storms that could restrict passage or require deviation

2   Determine all aspects affecting navigation

a)  Identify position fixing arrangements
b)  Identify transit bearings and other means of determining the compass error
c)  Determine suitable parallel indexing and identify index ranges
d)  Define contingency arrangements
e)  Establish ‘abort’ position when approaching confined waters
f)  Identify Traffic Separation areas
g)  Identify any other special areas and restrictions, which may affect the safe     navigation
h)  Determine changes in compass errors by variation chart or similar

3   Pre-sailing briefing

a)  Understand the importance of pre-sailing briefing
b)  Identify information to be discussed at pre-sailing briefing

4   Use of ECDIS with Passage Planning
a)Plan and save a route using ECDIS, adding text and warnings, where necessary
b) Set appropriate alarm parameters, i.e.  safety depth, safety  contour, deviation limits
c) Determine the availability of appropriate charts and their coverage

5   Fuel consumption and range

a)  Determine total distance to travel and fuel consumption
b)   Determine a safe fuel reserve required
c)   Determine fuel required at departure port

Execution and monitoring

7  Navigation safety

a)   Determine course to steer to make good a desired course
b)   Fix vessel’s position by visual and/or radar – cross check
c)   Fix vessel’s position by electronic navigational aids  - cross check
d)   Effectively monitor the vessels progress by ECDIS
e)   Monitor the vessel’s position by parallel index with reference to the planned track in coastal and estuarial waters and port approaches
f)   Maintain the vessel in a safe position
g)Execute ‘contingency arrangements’ in the event of steering failure, engine breakdowns,  blackouts etc
h) Monitor other vessels by radar/ARPA
i) Comply fully with the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea
j) Utilise AIS information from an MKD unit or AIS/ARPA/ECDIS interface to enhance situation awareness.
k) Conduct a pre-planned coastal passage in the simulator in clear and/or reduced visibility demonstrating seamanlike navigation and chartwork skills.

8  Conduct Arrival briefing

a)  Understand the importance of arrival briefings
b)  Identify the information to be discussed at an arrival briefing

International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea

9   Application of the ColRegs - practical exercises on an approved simulator

a) Appreciate the need for early and substantial action and dangers of assumptions made on inadequate information
b) Take suitable action in compliance with the Rules to avoid close quarter situations with vessels in sight of one another
c) Take suitable action in compliance with the Rules to avoid close quarter situations with vessels detected by radar alone, but not observed visually
d) Determine a safe speed taking into account all prevailing conditions
e) Whilst conducting a simulated passage, analyse potential collision risks when in a potential multi-vessel encounter,  determine and execute best action to avoid a close quarter situation

Search and Rescue

10   Principles of search and rescue - practical application of search and Rescue

a) Understand the basic contents and use of International Aeronautical and Marine Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual
b) Conduct a simulated multiple ship SAR exercise to include at least three ships
c) Establish an OSC for exercise clear of coastal control
d) Delegate responsibilities
e) Establish a datum
f) Conduct full communications and instructions
g) Initiate multiple ship search patterns
h) Establish inter-ship communications to prepare for recovery
i)Understand how the use of ECDIS can aid the search patterns
j) The exercise should reflect the implications of GMDSS and other additional facilities available to assist SAR
k)Make own ship ready for SAR operations and casualty recovery
l)Manoeuvre to recover survivors


11   Radar display

1   Understand modes of operation
            a) Understand and utilise the advantages of the different display orientations
            b)Understand and utilise the advantages of the different modes of display
            c)Understand and utilise the advantages of sea and ground stabilisation
            d)Appreciate and utilise target trails

    .2   Use of Radar in Navigation
          a) Operate ARPA radar interfaced with an ECDIS
          b) Understand advantages and limitations of ARPA and tracked target overlay on ECDIS display
          c) Understand advantages and limitations of overlaying radar picture onto ECDIS

12   Practical radar plotting~

a) Perform paper and real-time simulator plotting of more than one target
         b)Determine effect of own ship alteration of course on CPAs of other targets

ARPA & Target Tracking Radar


This part of the course follows the structure of the MCA approved ARPA course:  it serves as refresher training for those candidates already ARPA qualified.
(Note:  the term ARPA includes the target tracking capabilities of newer radars)


The aim of the course is to provide training in the fundamentals and operation of ARPA radar equipment and in the interpretation and analysis of information obtained from this equipment.  To comply with IMO and statutory requirements, the ARPA radar must be under the control of a person qualified in the operational use of ARPA.


At the end of the course the officer should be capable of effectively using ARPA equipment as safe aid to navigation and collision avoidance through ability to:

  •  Follow procedures for operating the equipment and maintaining the display

  •  Obtain and analyse the data provided

  •  Take action as required for the safe conduct of navigation based on correct

  •  Interpretation and analysis of ARPA data

Design of Exercises

The exercises will require the participants to illustrate the principles of keeping a safe navigational watch, chartwork and collision avoidance.  The design and conduct of the exercises will be progressive with the later exercises designed to stretch the ability of the participants.

ARPA & Target Tracking Radar

a)  IMO Performance Standards for ARPA

  • An appreciation of the performance standards in particular the standards relating to accuracy

b)  Factors affecting system performance and accuracy

Knowledge of ARPA sensor input parameters – radar,  compass and speed inputs and the effects of sensor malfunction on the accuracy of ARPA data.

Knowledge of:

                   i.  The effects of the limitations of radar range and bearing discrimination and accuracy and the limitations of compass and speed input accuracies on the accuracy of ARPA data

                   ii  Factors which influence vector accuracy

c)Tracking capabilities and limitations

Knowledge of :
i.The criteria for the selection of targets by automatic acquisition
ii.The factors leading to the correct choice of targets for manual acquisition
iii.The effects on tracking of lost targets and target fading
iv.The circumstances causing ‘target swap’ and its effects on displayed data
v.The limits imposed on both types of acquisition in multi-target scenarios

d)  Processing delays

Knowledge of:
i.   the delays inherent in the display of processed ARPA information, particularly on acquisition and re-acquisition or when a tracked target,  or own ship,  manoeuvres.

e)  Operational warnings

Appreciation of:
i.   The uses,  benefits and limitations of ARPA operational warnings and their correct setting,  where applicable,  to avoid spurious alarms and distraction

e) True and relative vectors and typical graphic representation of target information and danger areas

Thorough knowledge of true and relative vectors,  derivation of targets’  true courses and speeds,  including:
         i.  threat assessment,  derivation of predicted closest point of approach and predicted time to closest point of approach from forward extrapolation of vectors,  the use of graphic representation of danger areas

        ii  the effects of alteration of course and/or speed of own ship and/or targets on predicted closest point of approach and predicted time to closest point of approach and danger areas

        iii  the effects of incorrect vectors and danger areas

        iv  the benefits of switching between true and relative vectors

f)  Information on past positions of targets being tracked

Knowledge of:

i  the derivation of past positions of targets being tracked

ii  recognition of historic data as a means of indicating recent manoeuvring of targets and as a method of checking the validity of the ARPA’s tracking

g)  Setting up and maintaining displays

Ability to demonstrate:

i.  the selection of display presentation;  stabilised relative motion displays and true motion displays
ii.  the correct adjustment of all variable radar display controls for optimum display of data
iii.  the selection as appropriate of required speed input
iv.  the selection of ARPA tracking controls,  manual automatic acquisition,  vector/graphic display of data
v.  the selection of the time scale of vectors/graphics
vi.  the use of exclusion areas when automatic acquisition is utilised
vii.  performance checks of radar,  compass and speed input sensors and ARPA

h)  Obtaining information from the ARPA display

Ability to obtain information in both relative and true modes of display,  including:

i.  the identification of critical echoes
ii  the speed and direction of target’s relative movement
iii  the time to and predicted range at target’s closest point of approach
iv the courses and speeds of targets
v  detecting changes of targets’ courses and speeds and the limitations of such information
vi  the effect of changes in own ship’s course or speed or both
vii  the operation of the trial manoeuvre

i)Application of the International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea

Analysis of potential collision situations from displayed information, determination and execution of action to avoid close quarters situations in accordance with the International Regulations for Preventing Collision at Sea.

j)  Interfacing ARPA with other systems
    a) Understands the ability to integrate data between navigational aids and their limitations, i.e. ARPA to ECDIS, GPS to ARPA and ECDIS
    b) Appreciates the dangers and limitations of data transfer between equipment

ECDIS  (Electronic Chart Display and Information Systems)

Thorough knowledge of and ability to use ECDIS,  particularly:

a)  Understand the operational difference between ECS & ECDIS;

b)  Understand the principal types of electronic charts available;
i    Raster charts;
ii   Vector charts;

c)  Be aware of S-52 & S-57 IHO performance standards.

d)  Understand of the significance of ENCs and their use with ECDIS.

e)  Create a voyage plan

f)  Apply appropriate safety settings

g)  Execute a safety check on the voyage plan

h)  Control of navigational functions and settings

i)  Manage specific functions of route monitoring

j)  Understand status indications,  indicators and alarms

k)  Manage Radar,  ARPA and AIS overlays

l)  Monitor integrity of the system

m)  Understand the dangers of over reliance on ECDIS

n)  Knowledge of procurement and licensing and updating  procedures

o)  Knowledge of the voyage log requirements and procedures

AIS  (Automatic Identification System)

a)  Is aware of the AIS concepts:
i  Understands the objectives of AIS
ii  Aware of the system concepts of AIS
iii  Aware of the SOTDMA concept
iv  Describes the major constituents of a shipborne system

b)  Understands the elements of AIS data:

i  Understands the information included in static data
ii  Understands the information included in dynamic data
iii  Understands the information included in voyage related data
iv  Understands the associated transmission intervals for each group of data
v  Understands the use of safety and security related messages
vi  Aware of the use of AIS as aids to navigation

c)  AIS Ship Installations

i  Understands carriage requirements
ii  Understands the MKD configuration
iiiUnderstands the radar/ECDIS configuration

d)  Use of AIS at Sea

i  Understands the need for checks of own ship input data
ii  Understands the use of AIS data on a radar or ECDIS display
iii  Aware of caution when making decisions based on AIS target data
iv  Understands the advantages and disadvantages of AIS compared with radar
v  Understands the principles and use of target association

1 SI 1998/1838 The Merchant Shipping (Code of Safe Working Practices for Merchant Seamen) Regulations 1998 or any subsequent amendment