Passage Planning – APEM

Solas chapter V reg 34 “Safe Navigation and avoidance of dangerous situations”

Solas Annex 25 – Guidelines for voyage planning.

STCW code: STCW II/I (O), II/2 (M) Levels. Sec A-VIII/2 “Watchkeeping arrangement and priority to observed Part 2.

Vessel SMS: Under ISM Clause 7.

IMO Resolution A.893 (21) “Guidelines for voyage planning”

What is Passage Plan or Principles of Passage Planning?

The Principle of Passage planning is to develop a comprehensive navigational plan (very through risk assessment) for the safe conduct of the ship from berth to berth.

To ensure that the bridge management is fully aware of the vessel intended voyage and of the contingency plan.

  • Considering possible danger, hazards and contingency plan for safe passage.
  • Is economical and easy to follow, allowing safe execution of the plan.
  • Ensure that the sufficient sea room and depth of water available.
  • Includes appropriate position fixing opportunities.
  • Complies with relevant reporting requirements and routeing measures for ships.
  • Take into account anticipated traffic and weather conditions and
  • Complies with all applicable environmental protection measures.


Passage Plan has Four Stages. (each stage follows each other logically)

  • Appraisal 2) Planning  3) Execution  4) Monitor.

Appraisal: Collecting and assessing all relevant information required for the intended passage.

Planning: Developing and approving a passage plan based on the outcome of the appraisal of all relevant information.

Execution: Briefing the bridge team on the passage plan. Navigating the ship in accordance with the passage plan.

Monitoring: Checking progress of the ship against the passage plan.

Who’s responsible for Passage Plan?

Master (It’s master responsibility to ensure that that passage plan provides safe navigation for intended voyage). “Master should check and approve the passage plan before departure

Company Involvement?
SMS should include guidance for passage planning. [ISM code clause 7]

Constraints on Passage Planning?
A comprehensive passage plan should be prepared and approved prior to departure. However sometimes its impractical to include all details, particularly related to arrival. A comprehensive plan should be finalised at earliest when practicable and bridge team should be briefed on the completed plan.




An appraisal is a Process of gathering all information relevant to the proposed voyage, including determining risk and assessing the critical areas.

From consulting all relevant publications, the potential dangers on the voyage are identified. After considering existing routeing schemes, environmental factors, reporting systems and vessel traffic services a clear indication of a safe route can be obtained.

Relevant Publications:

·         Ocean Passage for the World (NP 136) ·         Notices to Mariners [NP247]
·         Ships Routeing Guide ·         Tide Tables [NP201-208]
·         Navigational Charts (Small, Large, Mercator, Gnomic, Chart 5011, Passage Planning charts.   ex, for English Channel and Dover strait) ·         Tidal Stream Atlases, Co-tidal atlases

·         Nautical Almanac [NP314]

·         Chart Catalogue (NP131) ·         International Code of Signals (IMO)
·         Sailing Directions (UKHO) ·         Routeing Charts
·         Lists of Radio Signals (UKHO) ·         IALA Maritime buoyage system
·         Guide to Port Entry ·         Mariners’ Handbook (UKHO)
·         Lists of Lights (UKHO) [NP74] ·         * M Notices
·         Operating and Maintenance Instructions for Navigational Aids Carried by the Ship ·         Navigational Tables (Nories ‘Nautical Table’, Admiralty Distance Table)


Factors to Consider during the appraisal of a passage plan.

  • Master, SMS, Company, Charterers–Standing orders, guidelines and instructions.
  • The advice in Sailing Directions.
  • Anchoring and contingency options.
  • Availability and adequacy of charts and reliability of hydrographic data.
  • Availability and reliability of navigation aids.
  • Available sea room and traffic density
  • Communication including MSI and GMDSS
  • Pilotage requirements
  • Draught restrictions including air draught, Under Keel Clearance(UKC) requirements and squat.
  • Position fixing requirements
  • Reliability of propulsion and steering systems & defects affecting the control or navigation of the ship.
  • Route selection and waypoints
  • Routeing and reporting measures
  • Weather routeing


General / Operation Factors:

  • Berth Requirement
  • Helicopter operations
  • Bridge Manning
  • Mooring and tug operations
  • Bunker Calculation
  • Port Entry requirements
  • Cargo considerations
  • Security and anti-piracy measures.
  • Commercial and charterers considerations.
  • Strength and stability
Environmental Contingency
  • Ballast Water Management
  • Emergency Response plans
  • Emission control areas (ECA)
  • Notifications and reporting
  • MARPOL Special Areas
  • Passage plan amendments
  • National or legal requirements
  • Particular Sensitive sea area (PSSA)
  • Port reception facility

Official Charts:

Only up to date charts must be used.






Sailing Directions:
Coast to details

Off lying features

Tidal streams and currents

Information about channel and harbours

Buoyage systems

Navigation hazards


Port Facilities

Seasonal currents

Local weather information








Ocean Passage for the World: To know the established ocean routes.

Ships routeing: To know about IMO adopted reporting and routeing measures.

Guides for Port entry – Port information.

Tide tables, list of Lights, Mariners Handbook – Need to be refer when required.