When the Master gets the nomination of the next port, he communicates this information to the navigating officer of the ship. On hearing this, how the navigating officer proceeds to plan the passage, is precisely the coverage of this article.
Research into shipping casualties has shown that the most important contributing factor is that of human error, 85% to be more precise.
Among the recommendations for improving this situation is one for passage planning. A good passage planning means taking the vessel from A to B in the safest and shortest way. The concept of passage planning is not new and the prudent navigator has always made suitable preparation for his voyage before leaving port. With the considerable increase in sea traffic in certain parts of the world and with the diversity of vessels, it is important that the proposed passages are diligently thought-out in advance. Examination candidates are likely to be examined in the subject of passage planning.
It is suggested that a passage plan can be created by considering four stages:
Appraisal, Planning, Execution & Monitoring
Under this heading, the navigator considers all the relevant information and makes a general decision on the track to be followed. He also finds out the requirement of the following:
b. Nautical publications
c. Navigational equipment
The information about the general track to be followed is obtained from Routeing charts and Ocean passages of the world. Once the track to be followed is obtained it is laid in pencil on the relevant page of the Chart catalogue to get the list of small scale or reference charts, these charts are useful for initial planning of courses, plotting weather reports and plotting noon positions.
The same track is again laid on the relevant page showing limits of indexes. Now various indexes are opened and track laid again. The list of required charts is then made including the approach and harbour charts. Sometimes few harbour charts may not be directly needed for navigation but may be used in emergency i.e. some sick person to be landed or taking the port of refuse. Once the list of charts is made, we have to check from ships folio whether we have these charts or not. Charts are not onboard to be indented. Charts already on board are to be checked whether corrected or not Help may be taken of Chart correction log maintained by the navigating officer.
The relevant volumes of nautical publications are to be checked. List of some of the nautical publications to be consulted are:
- Admiralty chart catalogue
- Admiralty sailing direction
- Ocean passage of the world
- Admiralty tide tables
- Admiralty distance tables
- Reed’s distance tables
- Admiralty list of radio signals
- Admiralty list of lights
- Tidal streams
- Nautical Almanac
- Ship’s routeing
- Local tide and pilot booklets
- Guide to port entry
- Routine charts
- Navigation Charts
All the navigational equipment needed for the passage are to be checked. If any defects are found, make a defect list including requirements of Echo sounder and Course recorder papers.
The distance rabies on board (Admiralty or Reeds) are to be consulted to find the approximate distance from Port A to B from berth to berth and from pilot to pilot.
On the indents of Charts & Nautical publications, defect list of navigational equipment and distance, the Master acts as soon as possible. He places the orders for Charts and nautical publications through proper channels. They must be received before the vessel sails. A technician is called to rectify the defects of navigation equipment. The distance information he uses to calculate the ETA to next port, requirements of Bunkers and fresh water etc.
The appraisal stage is over.
After all the charts and Nautical publications are received and Navigational equipment is rectified, the navigating officer now proceeds to do planning. It precisely means laying off the courses on charts of suitable scale and complete the details of the plan. While the planning of courses is done, the following points must be kept in mind:
- Avoid many alterations of courses: More A/Co’s. more exposure to mistakes and blunders.
- Try to alter courses when abeam to lights: because it is very easy to make out and more convenient
- Keen a distance of 3 to 4 n.m. off the lighthouse when A/Co. provided there are no off-lying dangers between the light and the vessel. A distance of 3 to 5 n.m. is navigationally safe as well as economical.
- The depth of the water on the way should be at least twice the draft of the vessel. It takes care of squatting, shallow water effect, smelling the ground etc.
- The horizontal clearance from the shoals, wrecks, rocks on the way should be at least,3 n.m.
- It is a good seamanship practice to join and leave the Traffic separation Schemes (TSS) from a point 3 n.m. off the beginning and end of the TSS.
Keeping these recommendatory points in mind, lay the courses first on the small-scale, charts and then transfer it on large scale charts, Make arrows indicate the direction of the., course. Write the courses and distances on each leg in pencil. A/Co or wheel over positionsJLO be marked and the bearing and distance from the light to be written in pencil. Distance To Go (DTG) to the next pilot station to be shown at each A/Co. points. Whenever the chart in use js finishing, new chart number is to be marked in pencil. The list of lights to be checked and the daytime identification i.e. structure and colour of the lighthouse is to be marked on the chart.
List of Radio signals to be consulted. and the frequency, Morse signal, hour of transmission etc. of the Radio Beacons on the way is to be marked on the chart in pencil ” Whenever the vessel .is crossing specific depth contours, make a mark on the chart to put orT the echo sounder. .Information about the vessel traffic system is to be mentioned on the chart.
When arriving ports the tides are to be worked out and mentioned on the chart, the position of the pilot Station VHF channels for the pilot boat and coast radio station is to be marked. Anchorage points and position of fairway buoy, to be identified and & marked. In consultation with the faster, two hours / one-hour notices to the engine room and position for trying out the main engines is to be marked in pencil.
All.the dangers on the way are to be rounded b^jred^gencih^ Suitable notes to include ranges of lights radar conspicuous area etc. Indicate where special accuracy is required giving alternative methods for independent cheeks.
Clearing /transit bearings to be well marked. Wherever necessary, under-keel clearances to be marked.
Contingency plans must be kept ready especially where alternative tracks around areas where, there may be special hazards due to fog, possible engine failure, iceberg etc.
Running a Bridge Notebook is advised. Points of material importance in the course of the voyage should be noted in this e.g. course alterations* any restrictions on speed, the critical area along the route, an area of dense traffic etc.
At a glance following not to be overlooked:
- Route at glance
- Different types of charts.
- Shore features, underwater dangers, navigational aids
- Shelter area, anchorages
- Recommended routes
- Details of lighthouse and lights
- Traffic separation scheme details
- Distances between ports
- Current editions of charts
- Current editions of publication
- Meteorological Information
- Predominant currents
- Ice limits
- Isobars and isothermal lines
- % of gales/fog observed
- Past storm tracks
- Direction and Rate of Currents
- Probability & Strength of the wind in given month
- Navigational warnings
- Details regarding radio beacons, Racons and remarks
- Standard and Legal times
- Meteorological observation stations
- Radio weather service
- VTS, VTMS, Port operations and pilot services
- Length of wharf, depth at wharf, channel, cranes
- Hospitals, Bunkers, FW
- Airport, De-ratting, Repairs
- Passage planning chart
- Various notices to mariners
- Radio / Current news
- Own manoeuvring data
- Own men, certificates etc
- Ship’s particulars
- Type of cargo onboard
- Navigational Equipment
Whatever planning is done, it has to be executed now. This is, of course, putting the plan into operation. Almost any plan is liable to suffer alteration or revision in the light of conditions and events actually encountered at sea. Before executing, the following points are to be kept in mind:
- Take a weather report every 12 hours and 2 hours before -the departure to get the latest information on the weather. Sometimes the planned passage may have to be altered due to approaching bad weather or storm.
- Take navigational warnings before departure. There may be firing practice along the coast, cable laying operation in the channel, malfunctioning of lights and buoys, etc. This information is of utmost importance for the smooth conductance of the passage.
- If the vessel has to follow ‘Ocean Route*. it has to be duly incorporated in the passage plan.
Conditions of light or darkness, the state of tide etc. must be assessed and if necessary, the Master consulted with a view to adjusting speed or modifying the track so as to obtain more favourable circumstances.
The preparedness of Officers on the watch is also to be considered. If there has been a change of officers before departure that port, the duty officers may not be well versed with controls on the bridge. Due to this reason, it may be necessary to keep an officer on the bridge who is well versed along with the new officer till the vessel is in clear waters.
It means, continuously checking the vessel’s progress. The progress can be checked by the position fixing. Normally we should have two sources of position finding instruments, one as the primary source of position finding and another as the backup in case the primary source fails. For example, if Echo Sounder is the main instrument to check depths, the hand lead is to be kept ready as standby. If the gyro is being used for steering purpose, the Magnetic compass is to be kept standby. If the GPS fails, there should be a backup plan. Also, it is necessary to ensure that all Navigational equipment are ready for operation and accurate. For this purpose, control tests before departure and arrival ports must be carried out and findings noted in the Bridge moment / Log book.
During the voyage. checks functioning of navigational equipment. Make use of parallel indexing where possible. It is the monitoring stage where the use of all navigational equipment given in the question is to be justified. You must state how a particular equipment is going to be used for that passage.
The officer of the watch should, of course, call the master in all cases of doubt, but also bear in mind the possible necessity for immediate action in cases of emergency.
The discussed four stages outline passage planning recommendations. Fuller details are available in publications which are entirely devoted to the subjects of passage planning and ship routeing. An example of such a guide is Admiralty Chart 5500, entitled Mariners’ routeing guide, English Channel and Southern North Sea.
- What information will you get from ASD?
Admiralty Sailing Directions (ASD), popularly known as Pilots, provides valuable, information that may be needed by a mariner regarding any area. Different volumes cover various navigable areas of the world over. General information about any area and the knowledge about local regulations, climatic conditions, anchorages, port facilities, harbour approaches, etc.
2. What do you know about ASD (Admiralty Sailing Direction/Pilot Volumes)?
There are 74 volumes. Correction for ASD is given in section 4 of weekly notices to mariners. It amplifies the charted details and other details which are not available in other publications. It issues every 3 years and any amendments which cannot wait for new edition are given in section 4 of weekly notices to mariners.
3. What are the Contents of Sailing directions, how will you utilise them?
The contents of ASD:
a. Diagrammatic index of the area covered under the volume and limits of charts for the area.
b. Chapter 1: general information for the area covered by volume.
c. Other chapters forming the main text area covered under the volume is divided into various geographical sections, these chapters individually cover each geographical section.
- Extract of port regulations of certain port
- List of port available for underwater repairs
- Principle ports with depths
- Radar ranges of various land points, islands, peaks, etc
- Alphabetic index
Below you can download IMO resolution A.893(21) GUIDELINES FOR VOYAGE PLANNING.