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SWP2.3 | Support development of interoperable hull databases


The integration of inland navigation into intermodal transport chains doesn’t only depend on the physical infrastructure; supply chain integration also needs to be supported by electronic information exchange. Traffic Authorities require electronic information exchange in order to ease governmental tasks such as traffic management and vessel certification. River Information Services (RIS) play an important role in this respect. Through the seamless exchange of relevant logistics information by RIS, the efficiency and safety of supply chains can be improved significantly.

RIS applications only operate on the basis of unique vessel identification numbers and hull databases. In a majority of European inland navigation countries, national hull databases are already operational, covering the requirements of authorities responsible for the certification of vessels. These national databases are structurally different, both regarding their technology as well as potential interfaces to external systems. Thus, no international exchange of hull data is possible at present.


This Sub-Work Package develops and implements a harmonised approach in collecting, storing and providing hull data of inland vessels in Europe and position information exchange. It also assists in obtaining accordance between the European Commission, vessel certification authorities, RIS authorities and RIS providers in setting up a European hull database and position information service, which enables the international exchange of traffic information and hull data for authorised users.

Description of work

According to Directive 2006/87/EC on the technical requirements for inland waterway vessels and the Regulation on Inspection of Shipping on the Rhine (RheinSchUO), certain inland waterways vessels require a technical
inspection before being allowed to sail on European inland waterways. Vessel certification authorities issue community certificates after technical inspections. A subset of the data of community certificates, the so-called minimum set of hull data, includes the Unique European Vessel Identification Number, the name of vessel, length, breadth, single or double hull in accordance with ADN, MMSI Number, ATIS Code.

According to Directive 2008/87/EC, the RheinSchUO and the (draft) technical specification for Electronic Reporting, the minimum set of hull data shall be exchanged among vessel certification authorities and exchanged with RIS Authorities. The European Hull Database shall facilitate the mentioned data exchange. Within PLATINA, contracting, implementation and pilot operation (for 2 years) of the European Hull Database is planned. In addition, an operational concept for the future operation of the European hull database and position information service is going to be prepared.

PLATINA also prepares a legal agreement required for the European hull database, which regulates the use of data, service level, etc. The project also assists in obtaining accordance between the European Commission, RIS authorities and RIS providers in setting up a European position information service, which would enable the international exchange of traffic information for authorised users.

Achievements January-May 2011

On the basis of the “Functional specification of the Minimum Hull Database and its services”, which was approved by the Electronic Reporting Expert Group in June 2008, PLATINA organised a public tendering procedure for the European Hull Database. In April 2010, the implementation of the pilot system was concluded. In May 2010, the pilot operation of the European Hull Database started with a training of the users from the involved authorities.

During the first months of pilot operation, a lot of questions with regards to the first data upload could be clarified. At the end of April 2011, certification authorities of 5 countries had uploaded vessels. Authorities from an additional 3 countries are finalising the development of data-links between national databases and the European Hull Database. In total, more than 9200 vessels are already available at the European Hull Database.

Within the framework of the IRIS Europe II Legal Task Force a stepwise approach has been worked out regarding the international exchange of hull data:

  • Step 1: In accordance with the first sentence of Article 2.18, paragraph 6 of Directive 2008/87/EC and Commission Regulation 164/2010, hull data provided by the authorities shall only be used for the process of assigning European Vessel Identification Numbers (ENIs). Therefore only authorities in charge of issuing ENIs shall have access to hull data.  Hull data shall not be distributed to other parties. By the end of December 2010, 9 countries concluded the step 1 by means of an exchange of letters.
  • Step 2: In accordance with the second sentence of above mentioned legislation, further use is possible, the service agreement entered into force on 1.5.2011.

Several key steps have been identified and communicated with the EC regarding the specification of a European Position Information Service. Based on these documents, it was decided that a report should be drafted identifying the operational needs and technical requirements of a European Position Information Service, including scenarios. This report was finalised in December 2010.

Sub-Work Package leader biography

Andreas Bäck (Senior Project Manager, Inland Navigation Technology Projects, via donau) holds a master’s degree in electrical engineering from the Vienna University of Technology (Austria) and a master’s degree in Engineering Management from the University of Colorado at Boulder (USA). He is a member of the management team of a number of projects including COMPRIS (FP5) and Implementation of RIS in Europe (IRIS Europe, TEN-T). Andreas; contributed to the elaboration of the Master Plan for RIS in Europe, has presented River Information Services at conferences such as the Transport Research Board in Washington D.C, and is a member of the PIANC Working Group 125 (Update of the RIS Guidelines). Andreas is a native speaker of German and also speaks and writes fluent English.

3 questions to Andreas Bäck

  • What do you like most about your work?
    I like it that I work on complex, innovative, international projects with tangible results.
  • If you could have one wish for inland navigation, what would it be?
    That innovations could be deployed to the sector more rapidly.
  • What does PLATINA do for you?
    PLATINA provides a very interesting, multicultural project environment, full of challenges on a daily basis.