On the basis of the fullest possible appraisal, a detailed voyage or passage plan should be prepared which should cover the entire voyage or passage from berth to berth, including those areas where the services of a pilot will be used.
IMO Resolution A.893(21)
All shipping operations are a form of risk taking. This is why a voyage was once termed an "adventure". Shipmasters were once great gamblers as they pressed ahead into adverse weather and crowded on more canvas when wiser mariners would have been running under bare poles. The difference today is that risk assessment is more "formal" and that safety management involves a good deal more science than was apparent in the judgement of earlier shipmasters.
The preliminary pilotage passage plan prepared in advance by the ship should be immediately discussed and agreed with the pilot after boarding.
ICS Bridge Procedures Guide 3rd Edition (1998) Section 184.108.40.206
The shipping industry is now a precise, safe and scientific industry in which accident statistics are very low for the tonnage of goods and people that are carried around the world. However, despite all the comforting words of the regulators and regulations covering every eventuality, risk has not and cannot be eliminated. Risk can only be minimised and safety management systems are a technique that can be employed to contain the ordinary risks of operating a port.
Passage planning is a risk minimisation solution for ports and pilot service providers.
An obligation for proper voyage planning is placed on the masters of all ships and on their staff. Guidelines to assist ships' staff for such planning are contained in IMO Resolution A.893(21).
Similarly STCW.7/Circ.10 2001 requires navigators to have a good knowledge of all aspects of route planning.
The large number of authoritative references to passage planning and the sheer volume of guidance underline the importance of proper planning.
Prior to proceeding to sea, the master shall ensure that the intended voyage has been planned using the appropriate nautical charts and nautical publications for the area concerned, taking into account the guidelines and recommendations developed by the Organization.
Guidelines for Voyage Planning, adopted by the UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency
"In investigating similar incidents involving port entry or berthing, the Inspector has come across little evidence that the ICS Guide is followed. Ships' masters, crews, and pilots are charged with the safe conduct of high cost ships and valuable cargoes within a port with high cost infrastructure.
The time-honoured excuses for incomplete planning, that the ship's staff are not interested and expect the pilot to conduct the ship, or that ship planning is a waste of time as the pilot disregards the ship's plan, are unprofessional and should have no place in shipping operations in pilotage waters."
MARINE SAFETY INVESTIGATION REPORT No.200 Independent investigation into the grounding of the Bahamas registered passenger ship Astor in Platypus Channel, Townsville, Queensland 26 February 2004
Passage Planning minimises the risk of navigational errors on ships. The aim of passage planning is to prepare the ship's navigation plan so that the intended passage can be executed from the departure berth to the arrival berth in a safe and efficient manner in respect of both the vessel and the environment.
Adopting the passage planning process provides positive management at all times. Ports reduce their own risk exposure and enhance safe operating procedures for the vessels and crews using their port by providing early and detailed information to port users be they shippers, shipowners, charterers, etc.
Adequate precautionary policies require planning and the development of appropriate safety envelope or margin to protect vessels 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. The complexity of modern ship navigation management can mean that mistakes can be made and errors go undetected in the absence of satisfactory plans.
"The Master must have sufficient information about the manoeuvres the Pilot is proposing in order to monitor what the Pilot is doing to ensure the safety of the ship; and
the information which is needed includes the Pilot's planned route, what changes of direction and speed the Pilot proposes and at what times, the speed at which the vessel will pass through the cut, the assistance the Pilot expects to receive from the tugs, and when it is anticipated they will be used and in what manner."
Port Kembla Coal Terminal Ltd v Braverus Maritime Inc  FCA 1211
"All ports should consider publishing their general port entry and berthing manoeuvre plans on the Internet. This would provide port users with direct access to port information (or indirect access through ship's agents), permitting masters and officers to plan passages as recommended in the International Chamber of Shipping's Bridge Procedures Guide."
MARINE SAFETY INVESTIGATION REPORT 178 Independent investigation into the contact with the number two coal loader at Port Kembla, NSW, by the Bahamas flag bulk carrier SA Fortius
EcoMaritime's Passage Planning Solution allows you to clearly and concisely communicate the standard operating procedures for ship movements in your port regardless of language or other cultural barriers. In addition, the information is available well in advance of any intended operation and ensures that the pilot and the vessel's master and crew develop the "shared mental model" of the proposed operation.
EcoMaritime has developed an Internet based system of demonstrating your port passage plans and standard operating procedures so that the plans can be viewed, examined, interpreted, and understood at any time of the day or night from any location providing the interested person has access to the Internet.
EcoMaritime has adopted a systems approach to resolving the problems of proper passage planning and believes that this model works well within the Safety Management framework.
Critical to the systems approach is the concept of the "shared mental model". It is important the all the participants of the plan fully comprehend the plan. If the pilot's plan differs from the vessel's plan, both plans are flawed and effective monitoring cannot take place. The EcoMaritime solution provides a simple and effective method of ensuring the two parties develop the same plan.
EcoMaritime Passage Planning solution uses a simulated ship model in plan view overlaying the relevant Australian Hydrographic Office chart to demonstrate each individual passage.
EcoMaritime International provides marine safety consultancy services to ports, port operators, pilotage providers and other organisations that operate within the maritime industry in Australia and overseas.
The company provides quality services that serve the client's best commercial interests and which most appropriately safeguards statutory and regulatory risk relating to safe marine operations and effective risk management.
The company also provides consultancy services on environmental issues of coasts, rivers, near shore seas and ports and the interaction of the communities that live in these areas of complex management.
Providing pilotage services to the ports of Melbourne, Geelong, and Westernport since 1839