Court Finds Owner Responsbile for defective Passage Plan

The importance of having a functioning Passage Plan and the peril of having a defective one:

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That’s a interesting case.

Prior to this decision, there had been no case whereby a defective passage plan rendered a vessel unseaworthy. However, it is now clear that just as the standard of seaworthiness must rise with improved knowledge of shipbuilding, so must the standard of seaworthiness rise with improved knowledge of the documents required to be prepared to ensure safe navigation.

The charted depths outside Xiamen were not accurate but Notice to Mariners had been issued advising that depths were less than charted.

This ruling is important because the owner is being held responsible for the voyage plan.


a shipowner will not be responsible for loss caused by neglect in the “navigation or in the management of the ship”.

following this judgment, shipowners will have to ensure that, through its agents and servants, due diligence is exercised to produce a non-defective passage plan that clearly contains the necessary warnings. Failure to do so, if causative of a casualty, will not be saved by the negligent navigation exception under Article IV r 2(a) of the Hague Rules, which cannot be applied where a shipowner has failed to exercise due diligence to make the vessel seaworthy.

The courts decision is interesting. A vessel voyaging to Manus up the Amazon has a British Admiralty chart for the first 170 miles up the river to the pilot station. There after the charts are Brazilian and come aboard with the two pilots. The charts are wildly inaccurate in places and you have to rely entirely on the local knowledge of the pilot.

With regards to voyage plans; almost all the pubs and info read as if the ship has only two ports, a departure port and an arrival port and the ship is not going to leave port till the plan is done. In fact the ship is almost always executing one plan while simultaneously working on planning for the different bits of the various legs ahead. Nothing like the sequence as shown in voyage planning instructions.

When the pace gets fast and furious with port close together, the China coast for example, the quality of the plans degrade.


Particularly when the ship is instructed to proceed to a place for orders as I experienced as Second Mate in tankers. One voyage the final discharge port changed every bloody day so I had to do a new passage plan and the Mate a new discharge plan.