Your Guide for Voyage or Passage Planning

by | Monday, July 14, 2014 | 0 comment(s)

Voyage planning, also referred to as passage planning, is the detailed procedure of laying out a vessel’s voyage from start to finish. The steps and protocols for voyage planning are explained in the International Maritime Organization’s (IMO) RESOLUTION A.893(21), Guidelines for Voyage Planning.

Proper planning and navigation is crucial to accident avoidance. In fact, 80 percent of maritime accidents are the result of errors made by those in charge of navigation, according to SOLAS ANNEX 24: Voyage Planning. A little careful planning can help prevent maritime disasters.

4 Stages of Voyage Planning

The IMO explains that there are four stages of planning a voyage:

  • Appraisal – this stage involves gathering and considering all relevant information for the voyage, including items such as nautical charts, provisions, port info, and climatological and oceanographic data.
  • Planning – during the planning phase, the ship's navigation officer plots the intended route of the voyage, notes any dangers and gets the plan approved by ship's master prior to the commencement of the voyage.
  • Execution – this phase involves the actual execution of the passage plan, as well as taking any rising factors into consideration when determining deviations from the plan during the course of the voyage.
  • Monitoring – the final part of the voyage planning process is monitoring and seeing the plan through to completion. It involves close and continuous monitoring by the officers of the navigational watch.

Elements of Planning the Voyage

The IMO lists more than 50 elements in the Guidelines for Voyage Planning that should be considered when creating a plan. The guidelines are specific and thorough “to ensure safety of life at sea, safety and efficiency of navigation, and protection of the marine environment during the intended voyage or passage.”

Some of the elements the ship's navigation officer should consider during the planning include:

  • safe speed (taking hazards, the vessel’s maneuvering capabilities, and water depth into consideration);
  • the cargo’s characteristics;
  • when/where to alter the speed, given factors such as daylight and tidal restrictions;
  • the condition and competency of the crew;
  • clearance;
  • meteorological conditions;
  • the certifications and documents of the vessel and crew members;
  • course alteration points;
  • the method and frequency of position fixing;
  • the use of the routing system, reporting protocols and the vessel traffic services;
  • precautions for protecting the marine environment; and
  • contingency plans.

Keeping Track of the Voyage Plan

The IMO explains that the voyage plan should be clearly marked and recorded on the appropriate charts, as well as on CD and/or in a voyage plan notebook. The officers of the navigational watch should have access to the plan at all times throughout the voyage.

While a written, extensive passage plan may be practicable only for commercial or larger excursions, even small vessels' and pleasure crafts' voyages require some degree of planning. SOLAS recommends that smaller vessels at least take the following into considerations before embarking on a trip:

  • weather;
  • tides;
  • vessel limitations;
  • navigational dangers;
  • contingency plan; and
  • leaving a trustworthy person on shore with the route schedule and details.

If you’re in need of logbooks for your vessel to help keep track of your plan and execute a safe voyage, you can peruse our selection in the My Vessel Logs store or call 888-468-3757.

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