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The Master should ensure that the voyage is properly planned from berth to berth.

Passage planning should take into account

  • clear arrangements as to which person in the wheelhouse is responsible for which navigational control equipment
  • pre-set courses with sufficient and safe shore clearance – only safe transit lanes should be used for passages
  • vessel’s routing and traffic separation schemes
  • anchorages and pilotage areas
  • areas of high traffic density
  • shore traffic control reporting points
  • communication channels
  • latest navigation warnings and chart/list of lights corrections
  • any regulations applicable to the waters to be navigated, e.g. United States Under Keel Clearance Regulations
  • prevailing tides, currents, weather and sea conditions to be expected, with anticipated movements of the vessel, such as parametric rolling – please see section Ship’s behaviour on passage – parametric rolling – and effective counter measures
  • appropriate speed and calculation of squad effects in shallow passages
  • sufficient water depths
  • underwater obstacles
  • oil, gas and water supply pipes
  • ballast water management for the entire voyage taking into account any national requirements in respect of ballast water management, control and exchange, please also see sections 2.15.3 Ballast water exchange at sea and Pollution by ballast water.

    The Master should not be afraid to change or abort the passage plan depending on the circumstances! However, a record should be kept of the reasons for the change as well as the details of the replacement passage plan put in place.

    The passage plan for arrivals or departures should also focus on critical stages of navigation such as large course alterations or narrow bends, which may require exact rudder manoeuvres. Wind and current conditions need to be taken into consideration to avoid too early or too late “wheel over” orders – please see section 2.13.4 Navigation in confined waters – Bridge Resource Management.

    Depending on the circumstances and the area, the Master should consider including back up plans and aborting positions, i.e. the last point at which manoeuvres can be safely aborted.

    Passage planning is also relevant to the personnel in the engine room, particularly as they will need to know when the vessel may need engine power for full manoeuvring.