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This is a NAUTICAL LOG article only. To operate under an actual prepared Plan the navigator MUST refer to IMO RESOLUTION A.893 (21) Annex 25 of SOLAS V.


Investigations show that human error contributes to 80% of navigational incidents. Most incidents happen because of simple mistakes using the navigational equipment. Interpretation of the available data, rather than equipment deficiency, basic navigational skills or ability to use the equipment, is the principle cause.

It is imperative to adhere to the IMO Guidelines addressed in the previous Post. Masters and Watchkeepers should take measures to ensure they appreciate and reduce risks,

  • ensure that all the vessel's navigation is planned in adequate detail with contingency plans
  • ensure that there is a systematic organized Bridge Team on Watch
  • comprehensive briefing of all concerned with navigation, both Officers and Ratings
  • close and continuous monitoring of the vessel's position
  • use different methods to plot the vessel's position
  • cross-check individual decisions do not be overconfident
  • ensure information of traffic plots is used carefully
  • bear in mind the other traffic may alter course and speed at any time
  • ensure optimum and systematic use is made of all data by the Bridge Team
  • ensure the intentions of a Pilot, particularly a Compulsory Pilot, are fully understood and acceptable to the vessel's Bridge Team

Responsibility for Voyage Planning

In most deep-sea vessels the Master delegates the initial responsibility for preparing the Plan to the Navigation Officer. On small vessel's the Master will prepare the Plan him/herself. Using the Guidelines the Navigation Officer will prepare the Plan prior to departure and present it to the Master. If the destination port is not known then the Plan will be extended or amended during the voyage, as appropriate, to the Master's Orders.

Principles of Voyage Planning

The four stages of Appraisal, Planning, Execution and Monitoring logically follow each other.

Appraisal is the process of gathering all information relevant to the proposed voyage. The Guidelines list the items that must be taken into account.

Planning follows acting on the Master's instructions. Again the Plan must adhere to the Guidelines.

Execution of the finalized Plan once again following the Guidelines. The Master may review and alter the Plan due to changing circumstances.

Monitoring of the vessel's progress along the planned track. All the standard watchkeeping rules must be followed as usual.

Good Watch


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