CHAPTER 4: Passage Planning
Cabalda, MacNeil H.
Clapano, Marc Rio C.
Edillo, Kenneth G.
Trinidad, Robert Jr. M.
SUBMITTED TO: .
CAPT. Bernabe T. Lim .
The objective is that we shall plan a passage of at least 300 nautical miles for a ship of
about 7,000 gross tonnage, draft of 7.5 meters, and a speed of 16 knots. So after studying this
chapter, the student will be able to:
State which charts and nautical publications should be consulted or used for attaining the
Explain how to conduct the planned passage stating all relevant actions and
observations to be taken from departure to arrival, among others:
true and compass courses to be steered, considering the effect of tidal streams
wind, currents and the distance /track for each courses;
when the various courses shall most likely be altered;
which conspicuous objects and aids to navigation will be used for fixing the ship’s
position and when these aids are likely to be visible;
estimated time of arrival(ETA) at the port of destination;
enter correctly in the logbook all relevant information expected to occur during
The safe navigation of a vessel has always been the responsibility of the Master.
However, it is customary for the Master to delegate navigational duties to his officers. The
principle of passage planning generally falls into the duties of the navigation officers whether
in ocean passage or coastal passage.
Passage Planning or voyage planning is a procedure to develop a complete description
of a vessel's voyage from start to finish. The plan includes leaving the dock and harbor area,
the en route portion of a voyage, approaching the destination, and mooring. According to
international law, a vessel's captain is legally responsible for passage planning, however on
larger vessels, the task will be delegated to the ship's navigator.
Studies show that human error is a factor in 80 percent of navigational accidents and
that in many cases the human making the error had access to information that could have
prevented the accident. The practice of voyage planning has evolved from penciling lines on
nautical charts to a process of risk management.
Poor passage planning and deviation from the plan can lead to groundings and oil spills.
Passage planning consists of four stages: appraisal, planning, execution, and monitoring.
These stages are specified in International Maritime Organization Resolution A.893(21),
Guidelines For Voyage Planning which are in turn reflected in the local laws of IMO signatory
countries. The guidelines are also reflected in a number of professional books and
publications. There are a total of fifty elements of passage planning, a number of which are
only applicable in certain situations.
The Guidelines specify three key items to consider in the practice of voyage planning:
Having and using a voyage plan is "of essential importance for safety of life at sea,
safety and efficiency of navigation and protection of the marine environment"
Voyage planning is necessary for all types of vessels on all types of voyages and
The plan's scope should be based on all information available, should be "berth to
berth" including when under pilotage and the plan includes the execution and the
monitoring of progress.
Reviewing nautical publications is part of the appraisal stage.
Principles of Passage Planning
The standard of passage planning are not new but the procedures have become more
formalized over recent years and generally conform principles set out by Chapter VIII/2 of the
The four stages of Appraisal, Planning, Execution and Monitoring logically follow each
other. An appraisal of all information available must be made before detailed plans can be
drawn up and a plan must be in existence before tactics for its execution can be decided upon.
Once the plan and the manner in which it is to be executed have been decided, monitoring
must be carried out to ensure that the plan is followed.
The principle of passage planning covers four essential areas of activity required to
achieve a safe passage between ports, namely:
Appraisal is the process of gathering all information relevant to the proposed voyage,
including ascertaining risks and assessing its critical areas. The Guidelines list the items that
should be taken into account.
This is the area which is carried out by the navigation officer to gather all relevant
information that is needed in the passage plan.
Many navigators, in order to avoid oversight, often employ a checklist for appraisal.
Main Points for Master’s Appraisal
When considering a passage plan for approval by the Master, take note of the following
areas of concern:
That the largest scale charts have been employed.
That all charts used are corrected and up to date.
Ensure that all navigation warnings have been received and where applicable
applied to the plan.
Ensure that relevant publications are on board and correct for the forthcoming
Estimated drafts are correct for different stages of the passage and adequate
under keel clearance is available throughout the passage.
That the chosen route has taken account of the climatological information for the
areas associated weather patterns.
Consider the route for traffic flow and the volume of traffic which can expect to
Ensure adequate coverage of position fixing methods including the range and
viable use of radio aids.
Take note of all pilotage positions or positions of high interest with regard to
potential marine hazards.
Compare recommended route with sailing directions and routes advised by Ocean
Passages for the World.
Assess with care all landfall positions for shallows, currents, and other possible
Compare the qualities and capabilities of the vessel to ensure that maneuvering
characteristics, bunker capacity, and speed capability will allow safe completion of
Those loadline regulations are not infringed.
Before each voyage begins, the navigator should develop a detailed mental model of
how the entire voyage will proceed. The appraisal stage consists of gathering and
contemplating all information relevant to the voyage. Much of this appraisal is done by
consulting nautical charts, nautical publications and performing a number of technical tasks
such as weather forecasting, prediction of tides and currents, and checks of local regulations
Nautical publications are a valuable guide to local conditions and regulations, but they
must be updated and actually read to be of any use. These publications could include Sailing
Directions and Coast Pilots or similar texts produced by other authorities. Monitoring progress
and comparing it to the plan are key to passage planning.
Once information is gathered and considered, the navigator can begin the process of
actually laying out the voyage. The process involves projecting various future events including
landfalls, narrow passages and course changes expected during the voyage. This mental model
becomes the standard by which the navigator measures progress toward the goal of a safe and
efficient voyage, and it is manifested in a passage plan.
A good passage plan will include a track line laid out upon the best-scale charts
available. This track is judged with respect to at least nine separate criteria given in
the Guidelines including under-keel clearance, safe speed, the use of routing and reporting
services and the availability of contingencies in case of emergency.
The navigator will draw and redraw the track line until it is safe, efficient, and in line
with all applicable laws and regulations. When the track is finished it is becoming common
practice to also enter it into electronic navigation tools such as a Electronic Chart Display and
Information System, a chartplotter, an ARPA system or a GPS unit.
When working in a team environment, the passage plan should be communicated to the
navigation team in a pre-voyage conference in order to ensure that all members of the team
share the same mental model of the entire trip.
An overall assessment of the intended voyage should be made by the master, in
consultation with the navigating officer and other deck officers who will be involved, after all
relevant information has been gathered. This appraisal will provide the master and his bridge
team with a clear and precise indication of all areas of danger, and delineate the areas in
which it will be possible to navigate safely taking into account the calculated draught of the
vessel and planned under-keel clearance. Bearing in mind the condition of the vessel, her
equipment and any other circumstances, a balanced judgement of the margins of safety which
must be allowed in the various sections of the intended voyage can now be made, agreed and
understood by all concerned.
Once a full appraisal has been carried out the navigating officer carries out the Planning
process, acting on the master's instructions. The detailed plan should cover the whole voyage
from berth to berth, and include all waters where a pilot will be on board. The plan should be
completed and include all the relevant factors listed in the Guidelines.
The appropriate charts should be marked clearly showing all areas of danger and the
intended track taking into account the margins of allowable error. Where appropriate, due
regard should be paid to the need for advanced warning to be given on one chart of the
existence of a navigational hazard immediately on transfer to the next. The planned track
should be plotted to clear hazards at as safe a distance as circumstances allow. A longer route
should always be accepted in preference to a shorter more hazardous route. The possibility of
main engine or steering gear breakdown at a critical moment must not be overlooked.
Ynion EJ. Terrestrial Navigation 2. 2003. MARTA, Philippines.