Bridge Procedures Guide, 5th Edition 2016 (eBook)

Published Date

June 2020

Bridge Procedures Guide, 5th Edition 2016 (eBook)

(Excludes any applicable taxes)

This 5th edition of Bridge Procedures Guide has been fully updated to reflect current best navigational practice on commercial ships, operating in all sectors and trades. It is widely acknowledged as the principal industry guidance on safe bridge procedures.

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The purpose of this guide is to provide clear guidance on best practice approaches to watchkeeping.


The fifth edition has been fully updated to address the 2010 amendments to the STCW Convention, introducing enhanced bridge resource management training for all officers in charge of the navigational watch. The new edition also includes bridge and emergency checklists, including comprehensive ECDIS familiarisation checklists.


Particular attention has also been given to the importance of the passage planning process, including the safe and effective use of technology. It is strongly recommended that a copy of the fifth edition is carried on board every ship, and that copies are held within shipping company technical departments.


A CD is also included, which contains the full text of the guide with an inbuilt search function.





1.1 Overview

1.2 Bridge Resource Management and the Bridge Team

1.3 Company Policy and Procedures

1.4 Mobile Phones and Personal Electronic Devices

1.5 Bridge Internet and Email

1.6 Emergency Preparedness



2.1 Principles

2.2 Responsibility for Passage Planning

2.3 Appraisal

2.4 Planning

2.5 Executing and Monitoring the Passage Plan



3.1 Overview

3.2 Effective Watch Handover

3.3 Managing the Bridge Watch

3.4 Maintaining a Proper Look-out

3.5 Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System

3.6 Calling the Master

3.7 Familiarity with Bridge Layout and Equipment

3.8 Situational Awareness

3.9 Monitoring Shipboard Operations

3.10 Navigation and Control

3.11 Monitoring the Passage

3.12 Compliance with the COLREGS

3.13 Navigation under Pilotage

3.14 Maintaining an Anchor Watch

3.15 GMDSS Watchkeeping

3.16 Long Range Identification and Tracking

3.17 Ensuring Environmental Compliance

3.18 Periodic Checks of Navigational Equipment

3.19 Recording Bridge Activities

3.20 Emergency Situations

3.21 Danger Reporting

3.22 Helicopter Operations

3.23 Security Awareness



4.1 General

4.2 Steering Gear and Automatic Pilot

4.3 Compass Systems

4.4 Speed and Distance Log

4.5 Echo Sounders

4.6 Bridge Navigational Watch Alarm System

4.7 Navigation Lights and Signalling Equipment

4.8 Voyage Data Recorder

4.9 Electronic Position Fixing Systems

4.10 Automatic Identification System

4.11 Radar and Radar Plotting Aids

4.12 Charts and Nautical Publications

4.13 Electronic Chart Display and Information System

4.14 Integrated Bridge Systems and Integrated Navigation Systems

4.15 GMDSS Communications



5.1 Overview

5.2 Preparation for Pilotage

5.3 Safe Pilot Boarding

5.4 Master/Pilot Information Exchange

5.5 Duties and Responsibilities

5.6 Manoeuvring

5.7 Preparing the Outbound Pilotage Plan

5.8 Pilotage Exemption Certificates

5.9 Deep Sea Pilots








ICS attaches the utmost importance to safe navigation. Safe navigation means that the ship is not exposed to unnecessary danger and that at all times the ship can be controlled within acceptable limits.


To achieve safe navigation robust rules and procedures need to be in place. But for these to be effective they must be complied with and supported by good training and familiarisation.


Training in the principles of navigation and in navigational techniques provides the background knowledge. This can only be implemented effectively through the correct use of equipment and through adherence to established procedures.


An Effective Bridge Team

Effective bridge organisation is the starting point to ensure that a system is in place to promote, support and monitor best practice and thus ensure the safety of navigation. At all times, safe navigation requires effective command, control, communication and management.


Bridge Resource Management (BRM) training is a mandatory requirement under the STCW Convention for officers in charge of the navigational watch (operational level). The skills and benefits provided by BRM training need to be transferred into practice for it to have the desired effect on watchkeeping and safe navigation.


The root cause of many if not all maritime accidents lies in ship design, equipment design and performance, operational practices and training, all of which are human related activities. It follows that virtually all accidents may be attributed to human factors or human error. In the event of navigational incidents, this may encourage accident investigations to focus on the immediate actions of the Bridge Team rather than other contributing human factors.


Working in isolation, rather than as an effective Bridge Team, creates the potential for a single point failure with the risk of an error going unnoticed or undetected. Mistakes cannot always be avoided. Good procedures and teamwork can establish measures to detect such mistakes and mitigate their effects. It is necessary to ensure that effective monitoring and cross-checking is carried out to provide sufficient barriers against accidents.


When considering the composition of the Bridge Team during different phases of a passage, the experience of individual team members should be carefully considered in order to ensure the availability of appropriate skills and competencies. The watchkeeping schedule should be developed to provide a sufficient number of qualified and experienced watchkeepers for each phase of the passage.


Passage Planning

A comprehensive passage plan is essential to the safety of navigation. This should always include a thorough appraisal and planning process that complies with the ship’s Safety Management System (SMS), as required by the International Safety Management (ISM) Code.


The passage plan, including the intended route, should be checked by the officer responsible for navigation planning. Subsequently, the Master should separately check the plan. The Master should only approve the passage plan and associated route after any necessary amendments have been made. The passage plan should then be briefed to the other members of the Bridge Team.


Checking and subsequent approval of the passage plan should include assessment of measures to mitigate or avoid hazards, using appropriate up to date navigational charts and nautical publications, together with any other relevant safety information.



Innovation and emerging technology have led to a steady increase in the number and applications of electronic systems designed to enhance safety and the efficiency of navigation. Irrespective of these developments, the fundamental principles of navigation remain unchanged, and the Bridge Team should be aware of the dangers of over reliance on particular equipment.


The introduction of new technology or equipment has sometimes been followed by unanticipated software anomalies that have resulted in suboptimal performance. Masters and Bridge Teams should be aware of the possibility of such anomalies, how to identify them, mitigating procedures and where to seek further advice.


Appropriate and structured familiarisation with navigational equipment, which is properly documented and recorded, is essential.



The conduct of a safe passage plan will generally involve the services of a Pilot (or a Bridge Team member holding a Pilotage Exemption Certificate). The Master, the Bridge Team and the Pilot, when embarked, should work together and co-operate to ensure the safe navigation of the ship. Pilotage should be conducted within the established safe limits identified within the passage plan.


An effective Master/Pilot information exchange (MPX) is essential to ensure that the Master, Bridge Team and Pilot have appropriate levels of situational awareness prior to commencing pilotage. It may also establish a need to amend the existing berth to berth passage plan. The presence of a Pilot does not relieve the Master or the Bridge Team from their duties and responsibilities for the safety of the ship.



The CD accompanying the fifth edition contains the full text of this Guide, including the Checklists in Annex 3, with a search function.


The International Chamber of Shipping (ICS) is the principal international trade association for the shipping industry, representing shipowners and operators in all sectors and trades.

ICS membership comprises national shipowners' associations in Asia, Europe and the Americas whose member shipping companies operate over 80% of the world's merchant tonnage.

ICS membership comprises national shipowners' associations in Asia, Europe and the Americas whose member shipping companies operate over 80% of the world's merchant tonnage.

Established in 1921, ICS is concerned with all technical, legal, employment affairs and policy issues that may affect international shipping.

ICS represents shipowners with the various intergovernmental regulatory bodies that impact on shipping, including the International Maritime Organization.

ICS also develops best practices and guidance, including a wide range of publications and free resources that are used by ship operators globally.

Title: Bridge Procedures Guide, 5th Edition 2016 (eBook)
Edition: Fifth
Product Code: MA1005EA
ISBN: 978-1-9162322-6-6
Published Date: June 2020
Author: International Chamber of Shipping

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