Skip to main content


Note this is a NAUTICAL LOG article only. To prepare an actual Voyage or Passage Plan the navigator MUST refer to "GUIDELINES FOR VOYAGE PLANNING" IMO RESOLUTION A.893 (21) Annex 25 of SOLAS V.

At the beginning of June 2009 Jeppesen Navigation (see our LINK LIST below) announced it had reached an agreement with the Chilean Naval Hydrographic Office to publish Jeppesen Marine Pilotage Charts covering Chilean waters. In our consulting capacity NAUTICAL LOG had cause to review voyage and passage planning generally. This in turn led to a complete review of IMO Resolution A.893 (21) Annex 25 of SOLAS V - Guidelines for Voyage Planning.

Recently there was a disgraceful, scathing, biased NTSB Report on the MS. "Cosco Busan" incident in which that vessel, under Compulsory Pilotage, rammed a bridge support in San Francisco Harbor. The NTSB Report was saved only by the dissent attachment by Member Deborah A. P. Hersman. One of the issues discussed was the responsibility of the vessel to plan the entire voyage from berth to berth. It occurred to NAUTICAL LOG that the IMO requirement might be improved upon and so here is the first Post of a series followed by a Proposal. We shall address the subject in two parts, "Guidelines for Voyage Planning" and "Ship Passage Planning".

Some background, IMO Resolution A. 285 (VIII) states:

"Despite the duties and obligations of a pilot, his presence on board does not relieve the officer of the watch from his duties and obligations for the safety of the vessel. He should co-operate closely with the pilot and maintain an accurate check on the vessel's position and movements. If he is in any doubt as to the pilot's actions or intentions, he should seek clarification from the pilot and if doubt still exists he should notify the master immediately and take whatever action is necessary before the master arrives."

Now from the above wording this seems to presume two things, first the Master is not on the Bridge, and second only males are officer of the watch. One must therefore further presume that the IMO is using "he" as a generic term. Also in a Compulsory Pilotage situation this places the OOW in a very tricky and difficult position. My advice would be for the OOW to immediately call the Master to the Bridge as soon as he/she feels any unease with the Pilot.

Guidelines for Voyage Planning


The development of a plan for the voyage or passage as well as the close and continuous monitoring of the vessel's progress and position during the execution of the plan. The need for a plan applies to all vessels and the size and type of vessel must be considered when formulating the plan. All information must be assembled as the requirement is a plan covering from berth to berth it therefore includes the period a pilot will be on board.


The following items should be considered when formulating the plan,

  • the condition and state of the vessel, stability, equipment, permissible draft, maneuvering data
  • special characteristics of the cargo its stowage and securing
  • provision of competent and well rest crew
  • up-to-date certificate and documents concerning vessel, crew, passengers and cargo
  • corrected and up-to-date charts in appropriate scale, navigational warnings and notices to mariners
  • up-to-date sailing directions, light lists and radio aid lists
  • mariners routing guides and passage planning charts
  • tide tables and current atlases
  • climatological, hydrographical, oceanographic and meteorological data
  • existing ship's routing and reporting systems, vessel traffic services and marine environmental protection measures
  • volume of traffic in transit areas
  • compulsary pilotage information, port information including availability of shore-based emergency equipment
  • procedure for the embarkation and the disembarkation of a pilot
  • details of the 'exchange of information' between the Bridge Team and the Pilot
  • any additional information useful to the vessel type and voyage or passage track


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 ares where the services of a pilot will be used,

  • this plan should include the plotting of the intended track on appropriate charts
  • the true course of the planned track should be marked
  • areas of danger, ship reporting systems, vessel traffic services and marine environment protection areas indicated
  • safe speed with regard to navigational hazards and draft limitations in relation to the available water depth should also be marked
  • limitations due to night passage, draft increases due to squat and heel on turns must be indicated
  • plot all course alterations with 'wheel over' points, speed and draft data
  • nearest ports of refuge and safe anchorages should also be listed

The Plan should be recorded in a notebook or computer disk available to the OOW's and Bridge Team at all times. It should be updated if and as more recent information becomes available. The Plan must be approved by the Master and signed off on prior to commencement of the voyage or passage. The Master will have to consider whether any particular circumstances introduces an unacceptable hazard to the safe conduct of the passage. The Master must further consider at which points of the voyage or passage there may be a need to utilize additional deck or engine personnel.


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 plan should be executed in accordance with the plan including update changes made.


  • times of tide heights and flow
  • daytime versus nighttime passing of danger points
  • traffic conditions particularly at navigational focal points
  • meteorological conditions, speed reductions in poor visibility


  • the plan must be available at all times on the Bridge for reference
  • the progress of the vessel in accordance with the voyage or passage plan should be closely and continuously monitored.

Any changes made in the Plan should be made consistent with these 'Guidelines' and clearly marked and recorded

Good Watch


Popular posts from this blog


It sometimes happens that one is going to write a Post on a subject when lo and behold there is already an excellent one.  Such is the case today; so rather than repeat everything let me refer you to the source of that Post

At present we are experiencing Perigean Spring Tides which occur when the Moon is at perigee on its oval path that is the closest point to Earth.  One of the principal results are higher than usual Spring Tides as against the Neap Tides.

Should you be interested in the full explanation of this phenomenon then you might like to reference "Old Salt Blog" which has an excellent explanation of this event and uses all the correct terms - quite unlike our Media here in South Florida.

Good Watch.


In addition to the recent "Standing Down" of training voyages for its Midshipersons the United States Merchant Marine Academy (USMMA) has received warnings about the quality, or lack thereof, of its training programme.  The Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE) report stated that accreditation was in jeopardy for non-compliance in certain areas.

Coupled with the continuing problems requiring disciplinary actions including dismissal from the Navy the United States Navy (USN) has had in recent years this does not bode well for the professionalism of the seafaring community of the United States.

It is clear to this writer, an International Master Mariner with 50 years of experience, that the training sources for both Officers and Ratings need an immediate complete examination and review.  Currently the Officer commanding riverine craft based in Bahrain has been dismissed.  Another nine Officers and Ratings are under disciplinary action as a result of the capture by…


NAUTICAL LOG has on previous occasions discussed the SS El Faro VDR in a Post titled RELUCTANCE TO RECOVER and two other Posts about the VDR (Voyage Data Recorder) of the SS El Faro

The Ship sank in Hurricane Joaquin on October 01, 2015 off the Bahamas.  There has seemed to be a reluctance by all parties involved to continue the attempt to recover the VDR from some 15,000 feet - admittedly a considerable depth.  However because of the importance of possible data on the recorder such an attempt must be made.

Finally the NTSB has contracted with the USN Supervisor of Salvage to assist in the recovery of the VDR.  The USNS Apache will depart in early July 2016 together with USCG, Phoenix International and an underwater operating vehicle the CURV-21.

Once the VDR is recovered it will be brought ashore to the NTSB laboratory and thoroughly studied to download and analyze the information.  With these results in hand the USCG will conduct a two hearings to investigate the sinking and questio…