Four key steps to help a ship’s officer establish a voyage plan before departure and confirm that the plan ensures a safe voyage and arrival at the destination with no problems.
IMO Resolution A 893(21) – Guidelines for Voyage Planning, state that, the plan should be available at all times on the bridge to allow officers of the navigational watch immediate access and reference to the details of the plan.uidelines for the preparation of voyage plans in
Furthermore, the progress of the vessel in accordance with the voyage and passage plan should be closely and continuously monitored. Any changes made to the plan should be made consistent with these Guidelines and clearly marked and recorded.
All information relevant to the contemplated voyage or passage should be considered. The following items should be taken into account in voyage and passage planning:
- the condition and state of the vessel, its stability, and its equipment; any operational limitations; its permissible draught at sea in fairways and in ports; its manoeuvring data, including any restrictions;
- any special characteristics of the cargo (especially if hazardous), and its distribution, stowage and securing on board the vessel;
- the provision of a competent and well-rested crew to undertake the voyage or passage;
- requirements for up-to-date certificates and documents concerning the vessel, its equipment, crew, passengers or cargo;
- appropriate scale, accurate and up-to-date charts to be used for the intended voyage or passage, as well as any relevant permanent or temporary notices to mariners and existing radio navigational warnings;
- accurate and up-to-date sailing directions, lists of lights and lists of radio aids to navigation; and
- any relevant up-to-date additional information
On the basis of the above information, an overall appraisal of the intended voyage or passage should be made. This appraisal should provide a clear indication of all areas of danger; those areas where it will be possible to navigate safely, including any existing routeing or reporting systems and vessel traffic services; and any areas where marine environmental protection considerations apply.
On the basis of the fullest possible appraisal, a detailed voyage or passage plan should be prepared which should cover the entire voyage or passage from berth to berth, including those areas where the services of a pilot will be used. The detailed voyage or passage plan should include the following factors:
- the plotting of the intended route or track of the voyage or passage on appropriate scale charts: the true direction of the planned route or track should be indicated, as well as all areas of danger, existing ships’ routeing and reporting systems, vessel traffic services, and any areas where marine environmental protection considerations apply;
- the main elements to ensure safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation, and protection of the marine environment during the intended voyage or passage; such elements should include, but not be limited to safe speed, minimum clearance required under the keel in critical areas with restricted water depth, positions where a change in machinery status is required, etc
Having finalized the voyage or passage plan, as soon as time of departure and estimated time of arrival can be determined with reasonable accuracy, the voyage or passage should be executed in accordance with the plan or any changes made thereto. Factors which should be taken into account when executing the plan, or deciding on any departure therefrom include:
- the reliability and condition of the vessel’s navigational equipment;
- estimated times of arrival at critical points for tide heights and flow;
- meteorological conditions, (particularly in areas known to be affected by frequent periods of low visibility) as well as weather routeing information;
- daytime versus night-time passing of danger points, and any effect this may have on position fixing accuracy; and
- traffic conditions, especially at navigational focal points.
It is important for the master to consider whether any particular circumstance, such as the forecast of restricted visibility in an area where position fixing by visual means at a critical point is an essential feature of the voyage or passage plan, introduces an unacceptable hazard to the safe conduct of the passage; and thus whether that section of the passage should be attempted under the conditions prevailing or likely to prevail. The master should also consider at which specific points of the voyage or passage there may be a need to utilize additional deck or engine room personnel.
The plan should be available at all times on the bridge to allow officers of the navigational watch immediate access and reference to the details of the plan. The progress of the vessel in accordance with the voyage and passage plan should be closely and continuously monitored. Any changes made to the plan should be made consistent with these Guidelines and clearly marked and recorded.