Passage Planning Guide - English Channel and Dover Strait, 4th Edition (2015)

Published Date

September 2015

Passage Planning Guide - English Channel and Dover Strait, 4th Edition (2015)

(Excludes any applicable taxes)

This guide provides the bridge team simple to understand tool in making safe and controlled transits of the English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea. This guide aims to assist with passage planning, in either direction, to and from the major ports in the region. An overview of the essential navigation references details each leg of the passage with all the information required by the navigator.

The English Channel and Dover Strait area is carefully monitored by traffic advisory organisations, and although they control the traffic, these systems do result in concentrating ships into narrow areas with frequent adverse weather conditions.


At the Anglo-French Safety of Navigation Group (AFSONG) meeting, held in May 2008, concern was expressed, by both the MCA and the French Administration (MEEDDAT), that excessive speed by vessels in the Dover Strait/Pas-de-Calais TSS may be a contributing factor to accidents, near misses and groundings. Using the IMO-preferred methodology of a Formal Safety Assessment, a study was jointly funded by the United Kingdom and French Governments to:

• Establish the risk of collisions, near misses and groundings in the Dover Strait/Pas-de-Calais posed by shipping

• use the IMO FSA methodology to approach the question of reducing risk

• propose risk mitigation measures to reduce the risk and to measure the risk reduction that speed management would provide in comparison to other controls.


This passage planning guide is intended to provide up-to-date assistance for the safe and controlled transit of merchant ships through the English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea, covering passages to and from:

- Wandelaar/Schelde

- MAAS/Rotterdam

- Sunk/Thames.


This 2015 Edition of this Guide was refined after discussion and assistance from serving Deep Sea Pilots and industry organisations and using the feedback from a number of voyages made through this waterway while using previous editions.




Title: Passage Planning Guide - English Channel and Dover Strait, 4th Edition (2015)
Number of Volumes: 1
Edition: Fourth
Number of Pages: 284
Product Code: WS1475K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-692-8 (9781856096928), ISBN 10: 1-85609-692-0 (1856096920)
Published Date: September 2015
Weight: 2.10 kg

Customer Reviews

Witherby Passage Planning guide working group Review by UK Chamber of Shipping - Bulletin No 26
A working group of members came together with Witherby Publishing in June to update Witherby’s Passage Planning Guide for the English Channel and Dover Strait. The 3rd edition of the guide was published in 2013. It’s a clear and comprehensive presentation of the planning and navigational information, plus sketches for each leg, it provides an invaluable reference for those negotiating the busy waters of the Channel and Dover Strait. As part of the process to update it, the UK Chamber and Witherby convened a two day workshop with mariners from chamber member companies, including BP Shipping, Shell, P&O Ferries, Absolute Shipping and Trinity House, to work through the material. It was an intensive, but very satisfying couple of days and the knowledge and currency of those around the table was very apparent. (Posted on 06/08/2015)
Timely Tweak for TSS Guide Review by Nautilus Telegraph - August 2015
Important work has been carried out to update navigational guidance for one of the world’s busiest shipping areas. Captain Kevin Vallance, a deepsea pilot serving with Geroge Hammond, tells how hands-on experience helped the project.

The Dover Strait Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) was the first approved by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) – initially on a voluntary basis but made mandatory in 1971 following a number of collisions within the region.

After its implementation there was a dramatic drop in the number of incidents, and refinements have continued to be made to the TSS. The area was also the first to be fully covered by radar surveillance.

However, at the Anglo-French Safety of Navigation Group meeting held in May 2008, concerns were expressed about a spike in the number of high-profile collision and grounding incidents and it was suggested that ‘excessive speed’ could be a factor in these incidents.

An independent company of marine consultants, BMT-ISIS, produced a report which not only attempted to collate all the relevant information for a 19-year period but also advised on risk control options which might help to improve the navigational situation.

One of these risk control options was the production of a video: ‘TSS for dummies’. Although this was not given very serious consideration at subsequent meetings, the possibility of writing a book on similar lines was considered by at least one interested party.

Unknown to any official bodies at that time, Witherby Seamanship International was preparing the first edition of its book English Channel and Dover Straits Passage Planning Guide, which was published in 2010. This first edition was loosely based on the format of the Passage Planning Guide for Malacca and Singapore Straits, first published in 1998. Initially intended only for LNG carriers, subsequent editions were aimed at all vessels intending to transit the Singapore region.

Witherby passage planning guides are designed to give guidance to shipmasters and navigating officers to assist with preparation of ship-specific passage plans to comply with Safety Management System requirements. The aim is to gather together all relevant routeing and communication information in one easily accessible volume. Each through route is broken into individual legs, with each leg containing a fold-out two-page chartlet, and the facing page giving communication information and details of prominent navigation marks.

Due to the importance of keeping the content of the passage planning guides up to date, they are subject to continuous monitoring for changes, with reviews taking place at intervals of approximately 24 months. Publication of the 2013 edition of the English Channel guide was delayed to enable the major changes to TSS off the Dutch coast to be fully integrated before printing.

Each revision process involves review by the various industry representatives. For the 2015 review of the English Channel PPG, Witherby MD Iain Macneil accompanied me for part of the European schedule of a car carrier. With the kind agreement of MOL, Tokyo, arrangements were made through MOBSEL in London for Captain Rajesh Dewangen and his crew to host an observation trip aboard the PCC Sanderling Ace. On sea passages between Brixham and Antwerp, and from Antwerp to Sheerness, observations of traffic flow and communications were monitored.

Of particular importance was the operation of the SWATH tenders at the Wandelaar pilot station. It was noted that additional information regarding the height of the side door, pilot access point above the waterline is required within the transmission for the initial sailing plan.

The benefit of using SWATH tenders in adverse weather is well known, but problems of interaction during their operation are less well publicised, it was observed that if interaction at the required operation speeds of 8-10 knots is a problem, the tender may be unable to ‘break the suction’.

(Posted on 23/07/2015)

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