Voyage preparation, planning and performance Sufficient supplies – bunkers and stores Seaworthiness includes having sufficient stores, fuel, water and provisions for the duration of the intended voyage plus a reasonable safety margin.

Voyage preparation, planning and performance


Voyage preparation, planning and performance

Sufficient supplies – bunkers and stores

Seaworthiness includes having sufficient stores, fuel, water and provisions for the duration of the intended voyage plus a reasonable safety margin. The Master, together with the officers and engineers, should determine

  • the amount of bunkers, diesel oil and lubrication oil needed, taking into consideration any instructions from the charterer as to speed, consumption and bunkering ports
  • the amount of freshwater required, taking into account the vessel’s own production and any replenishment facilities along the intended route. Any deviation to take on freshwater will not only result in additional costs and time but may result in a claim for unreasonable deviation
  • the amount of provisions required, taking into account the anticipated climatic conditions and the supply available during the voyage
  • whether original spare parts produced by the manufacturer are sufficiently available to replace any defective machinery parts, including the cargo gear, both in the engine room and on deck.
2.13.2 Bunkering operations – bunker quality General

Bunkering operations should be Critical Shipboard Operations, or at least Special Shipboard Operations, under the vessel’s SMS in accordance with the ISM Code. The slightest mistake may result in catastrophic pollution by fuel oil, which, in view of the chemical consistency and properties of fuel oil

  • has a more serious impact on the maritime environment, and
  • makes clean-up more difficult and expensive.
  • bunkering from a barge.

Consequently, the Company and the vessel should have developed and effectively implemented written procedures for • bunkering operations alongside, and

Many port authorities have special bunkering operations guidelines which must be followed to avoid any claims falling on the vessel, the Company and finally the P&I insurer for pollution or other damage caused during bunkering operations. Qualified and experienced personnel in attendance

Irrespective of whether the bunkering operation takes place in port, alongside or at anchor, it requires the full attention of all crew members involved. Bunkering must be carried out in strict conformity with the Company’s Shipboard Operations for Bunkering.

Section 6 of the ISM Code sets out the personnel requirements for bunkering operations such as providing qualified and experienced crew to safely carry out these operations

  • having an understanding of the relevant rules, regulations, codes and guidelines applicable to such operations
  • being properly trained and having the necessary knowledge of such operations and being familiar with the equipment to be used
  • communicating effectively in a common language with the personnel delivering the bunkers.
  • Gard booklet: Bunkers and bunkering – a compilation of Gard bunkers related articles
  • Gard News 174, Off-spec bunkers – some practical cases.
  • damage to the vessel’s machinery
  • delay of the vessel caused by Equipment used

The equipment used for bunkering operations must be inspected at appropriate intervals and maintained as required under section 10 of the ISM Code. Gauges and other sounding and measuring instruments must be properly calibrated before being used to avoid any incorrect measurements or soundings which may cause an overflow with catastrophic consequences. Bunker quality – proper sampling

For details please refer to

It cannot be stressed often enough that proper sampling and testing procedures should be carried out before bunkers are taken on board. Sampling must be carried out with the utmost care. The taking of samples should follow the Company’s written procedures and be in compliance with recognised industry standards.

If the quality of the bunkers taken is not within the required specification, this may have serious consequences not only for the engines but also for the safety of the vessel, crew and cargo. Main engine failures due to bunkers being off-specification may result in casualties with substantial financial consequences such as

  • testing of the defective bunker
  • possible de-bunkering of off-specification bunkers– cleaning of the bunker tanks. Emergency Response Plan

Incidents occurring during bunkering operations should be covered by the vessel’s Emergency Response Plan or as required in some countries, the Vessel’s Response Plan. The procedures for these types of situations need to be trained and drilled whenever possible to prepare the crew to minimise the effects of any incidents during bunkering operations. For further details please see section 3.12 Pollution. Bunkering from a tanker barge

It would exceed the framework of this publication to establish a detailed checklist for such bunkering operations. Such checklists would most probably interfere with those developed and established by the Company and the vessel under the SMS. Nevertheless some key points should be mentioned.

The basis for a successful bunkering operation is the full exchange of information prior to the commencement of any such operation. This exchange of information should at least contain the following

  • location, date and time of supply
  • whether bunkering is to take place on the roads
  • exact position where the bunker operation is to take place
  • acceptable weather, tide and swell conditions
  • exact specification and amount of bunkers required.

Prior to the transfer of personnel or equipment, the bunker barge must be safely moored alongside. There must be safe access and safe delivery at all times during the transfer operations. The respective freeboards of both the vessel and the bunker barge must be taken into account, as they change with the progress of the bunker operations.

A further exchange of information in writing should contain at least

  • communication methods (VHF or walkie talkie)
  • emergency arrangement
  • bunker transfer sequence with quantities, grades and pumping rates
  • sampling methods.
  • the declaration of the bunker provider’s officer regarding measurements and contents of the non-cargo tanks and spaces on board the bunker tank prior to commencement of the operations • the invitation from the bunker tanker to the vessel’s Chief Engineer to witness the opening gauge or reading and the taking of temperature of the cargo of all tanks prior commencement of the operation
  • detailed tank gauging procedures
  • the detailed sampling requirements and procedures for representative sampling before the commencement and during the bunkering operation
  • to have a member of the vessel’s crew supervising the entire bunkering operation
  • after completion of bunkering, the vessel’s Chief Engineer to witness the closing gauge or reading, and the taking of the temperature on board the bunker tanker
  • if there is a dispute over the quantity, the bunker tanker’s tanks are to be inspected and gauged by a surveyor. Singapore Bunker Procedure (SBP)

The Singapore Bunkering Procedure (SBP) may be a helpful tool for bunkering operations, irrespective of whether the bunkering takes place alongside or from a barge.


When taking bunkers from a barge SBP requires amongst others • the vessel’s officer or engineer responsible to confirm in the Bunker Requisition Form the details and specifications of the bunkers to be supplied

Please see also sections Pollution by oil and 3.12 Pollution.

2.13.3 Passage planning – departure and arrival General

The main causes of accidents such as grounding or contact on departure or arrival are due to • insufficient preparation

  • lack of local knowledge
  • failure to post a proper lookout
  • failure to properly operate Bridge Resource Management (BRM).
  • 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. Proper passage planning from berth to berth

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

Passage planning should take into account

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. Review of the passage plan before execution

A common cause of accidents is lack of situational awareness. The departure or arrival plan should be reviewed immediately before it is about to be executed and the Master should invite his/her officers to express any concerns they may have. Circumstances or conditions may be different from when the plan was first made and new hazards may have developed, e.g. other vessel movements, the presence of dredgers etc. Unsafe port – unsafe berth

The Master and his/her officers should be alert to the possibility that the port or berth may become unsafe to use at a particular time. If the Master fears that the vessel may be damaged, for example, due to prevailing weather conditions or the condition of the berth, he/she should take appropriate action immediately and contact the Company for assistance.

Prior to approaching a berth which gives an indication that there may be problems in using the berth, the Master or his/her officers should consider taking photographs from various angles and aspects to document the condition of the berth prior to berthing. Proceeding on critical revolutions over a longer period of time If the vessel needs to sail for a longer period of time within the critical revolutions range, the Master and his/her officers should notify the engine watch personnel in time to prevent damaging the vessel’s propulsion system. Check of navigational instruments, propulsion and

steering elements

The Master should ensure that all navigation aids, including communication devices, are available, the vessel’s propulsion and steering systems are fully operational and their operation and handling fully understood by the officers in charge. It is vital to check for any steering gear problems before the commencement of the voyage and before entering confined waters, to prevent a sudden failure and subsequent grounding, collision or damage to FFO. If the rudder does not respond to wheel over checks as it should do, there may be a problem and appropriate action must be taken. Adjustment of ship’s clocks

Prior to the commencement of the voyage, all the ship’s clocks should be adjusted to the master clock on the bridge.

2.13.4 navigation in confined waters – Bridge resource Management

Navigation in confined waters carries extreme risks such as

• sudden failure of

  • navigational equipment
  • propelling or steering systems
  • the entire power system

• resulting in

  • grounding
  • damage to FFO
  • collision and contact with other vessels– damage to the marine environment.

These risks can be minimised if the Master operates proper Bridge Resource Management.

The principles of Bridge Resource Management are laid down in the Bridge Procedures Guide published by the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). It contains guidance to best watchkeeping practice and guidance on Bridge Resource Management and the conduct of the bridge team including the pilot.

Bridge Resource Management focuses on the use and co-ordination of all the skills and resources available to the bridge team to achieve the optimum goals of • safety, and

  • efficiency.
  • is more than good planning combined with adequate safety margins
  • takes into account unforeseen events which may develop into a serious and difficult situation
  • requires the skills, abilities and effective communication of all members of the bridge team
  • includes the full involvement of a pilot, if in attendance!
  • communication in more than one language
  • cultural background
  • operational atmosphere
  • procedures
  • fatigue of the crew• climatic conditions.
  • navigation and pilotage is a shared task
  • timely and accurate communication conveyed to all members of the bridge team is a key element.
  • the tasks should be clearly defined
  • navigation information should be cross-checked
  • navigation manoeuvres must be monitored
  • information should be clearly confirmed by the recipient
  • continuous progress reporting is required.

Bridge Resource Management

The key to an effective Bridge Resource Management is teamwork and the Master would normally be the team leader.

Bridge Resource Management should take into account situational awareness. The following factors can affect situational awareness

When operating Bridge Resource Management the Master should be aware that

Navigating in confined waters requires delegation of tasks. To avoid any uncertainty or irregularity which could have disastrous results

The Master should also consider training his/her officers to react in situations of sudden failure of equipment and technical systems, such as power failure or lack of steering.

An effective bridge team is one where any one individual’s concerns, no matter what their rank, can be raised and taken seriously.

2.13.5 Pilot assistance

For further details please refer to Gard News 160, Pilot on the bridge – role, authority and responsibility. General

The main cause of accidents when leaving and entering a port under pilotage is improper Bridge Resource Management due to

  • insufficient communication between the pilot and the bridge team
  • lack of proper preparation by the vessel and the pilot of the berthing or unberthing manoeuvre
  • insufficient information provided by the vessel to the pilot
  • insufficient evaluation of the Master’s or pilot’s passage plan
  • failure by the Master to monitor the pilot and overrule him if necessary. Responsibility rests with the Master

The Master and his/her officers should not forget that the boarding of a pilot is not the time to relax but to become most vigilant! The Master has the responsibility and authority to override the pilot at any time, except in the Panama Canal. The Master should ensure regular communication between the officer on watch and the pilot to ensure that safety is maintained at all times. Pilot assistance and SMS

Navigation under pilot assistance should be carried out in strict conformity with the vessel’s SMS and the procedures described therein. Pilot’s experience and competency – intervention where required Prior to the commencement of the pilotage, the Master should satisfy himself that the pilot is experienced and competent.

The Master and his/her officers should

  • supervise the pilot’s performance
  • not hesitate to question the pilot’s intentions or actions
  • intervene with and overrule the pilot’s decision where and when the situation requires.
  • any abnormal helm or engine response which may be anticipated, including information on critical engine revolutions.
  • closely monitor the navigation upon leaving and entering a port under pilot assistance
  • provide the pilot in advance with a duly completed Ship to Shore Master/Pilot Exchange (MPX) form, please see Annex 6, setting out all essential manoeuvring details for the vessel
  • discuss and agree the manoeuvres and the passage with the pilot
  • enquire with the pilot about any special navigational rules
  • collect from the pilot a duly completed Shore to Ship Master/ Pilot Exchange (MPX) form, please see Annex 7, setting out information about the intended pilotage passage
  • not allow the pilot to take over the helm himself, unless circumstances so require, or change the settings of an autopilot
  • ensure that the pilot’s directions are given directly from the pilot to the ship’s officer of the watch rather than to the helmsman or other crew members
  • take immediate and appropriate action to safely navigate and manoeuvre the vessel if the Master is in any doubt about the pilot’s capability.

If there is any problem with the pilot’s performance, the Master should reject the pilot and demand substitution. Operational information to be relayed to the pilot

Prior to commencement of a pilotage the Master and/or officers should complete the Pilot Card – please refer to Annex 5 – and hand it to the pilot. The pilot must be informed about • any bridge equipment which is not fully operational Information to and close observation of the pilot

In order to be aware of the situation at all times, the Master should

2.13.6 Sufficient tug assistance – tug operations

The main cause of damage to locks, port installations and the vessel is insufficient tug assistance, particularly in prevailing strong tides and winds. Due consideration should be given by the Master to engaging sufficient tug assistance to enable the vessel to safely depart from and arrive at a port or berth.

Most standard towage contracts allocate liability to the tow. The tow carries all the risk even when there is no fault or negligence on the part of the vessel. It is often difficult to prove fault or negligence by the tug as most contracts are based on the principle that the tug is the servant of the tow, even when navigation is conducted by the tug. A claim for any damage suffered by the tug is often lodged after completion of the towage.

Thus, the Company and ultimately the P&I insurer may be held liable when a tug is damaged or cause damage whilst berthing, unberthing or under tow. Likewise, damage to the own vessel affects the Hull and Machinery cover, as liability of the tug is excluded under nearly every standard towage contract.

Prior to engaging tugs, the Master should consider not only the number of tugs required, but also that sufficient bollard pull is available. In case of doubt the Master should not hesitate to order additional tug power. Also, the power and the bollard pull of the tugs engaged need to be evenly distributed to avoid damaging the own vessel such as torn bollards.

Prior to commencement of a tow, whether in open sea or approaching or leaving a berth or lock, the manoeuvres should be discussed as part of the passage planning – please see above section 2.13.3 Passage planning – departure and arrival. The Master should insist that the pilot’s directions to the tugs as well as ship-

shore communication be given in a language understood by him, to enable the Master to have a full understanding of the manoeuvres undertaken at all times.

If towing lines are provided by the tug, the officers on stations should carefully check – if possible – the condition of the towing lines and inform the Master immediately in order to rectify the situation if the lines are not suitable.

Replacement towing lines of a sufficient breaking load and in good condition should be available on the vessel and be ready to be deployed if the tug’s line parts or must be rejected due to its poor condition.

As a general rule, whilst under tow, the Master and his/her officers should

  • be vigilant and alert when any manoeuvres are carried out by the tug or the vessel
  • always be aware of the tugs’ positions
  • continuously monitor the vessel’s own speed to avoid overrunning the tug
  • co-operate with the pilot and tug master.

When manoeuvring under tow, the vessel’s own bow thrusters may be used to prevent any difficulties occurring. Transverse movements of the vessel supported by the tug’s pull may be underestimated.

The names of the tugs and the time the tugs were taken on or started to tow should be recorded in the bridge bell book or other appropriate logs.

If any incidents occur during tug operations, the action to be taken and documents to be collected can be found in section 3.17 Towage – damage cause to or by a tug.

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