IMO resolution A.893 requires voyage planning and the IMO Maritime Safety Committee states that voyage planning is essential for all ships engaged on international voyages. Voyage and passage planning includes:
- the gathering all information relevant to the contemplated voyage or passage;
- detailed planning of the whole voyage or passage from berth to berth, including those areas necessitating the presence of a pilot;
- execution of the plan; and the monitoring of the progress of the vessel in the implementation of the plan.Passage planning is an essential part of any ship voyage and is ship owners and managers require masters, officers and crews as well as their agents such as marine pilots to actively engage in risk minimisation.
Similarly STCW.7/Circ.10 2001 requires navigators to have a good knowledge of all aspects of route planning.
Careful planning minimises the risk of navigational and operational errors on ships. The aim of passage planning is the preparation of a ship's navigation plan so that the intended passage can be executed from the departure port to the arrival port in a safe and efficient manner in respect of both the vessel and the environment.
Using positive planning processes ensures control at all stages of the voyage. Ports are areas of greater hazard than the open ocean and require greater effort to reduce risk exposure and ensure safe operating procedures.Adequate precautionary policies require planning and the development of appropriate insulation against the "worst case scenario".
Without planning, the time to process essential information may not be available at critical times when the navigators are occupied confirming landmarks, plotting position, avoiding traffic and carrying out other bridge duties such as communications. Under these circumstances, mistakes can be made and errors go undetected.
Port Phillip Sea Pilots present typical passage plans for berths in the ports of Melbourne, Geelong and Westernport so that Masters, Shipowners, Managers, Operators, Agents, Freight Forwarders and other interested parties are able to obtain a clear picture of the usual route to and from their nominated berth.
It must be clearly understood that these passages are typical or ideal passages and that circumstances will occur where deviation from these typical plans will occur. Where deviation from the plan is required, the pilot will discuss with the master the anticipated modification to the plan and the consequences of the changes that are required.