Passage Planning Guide – English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea (2019 Edition)

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Published Date

August 2019

Passage Planning Guide – English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea (2019 Edition)

(Excludes any applicable taxes)

This Guide is an essential resource for any ship navigating the English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea. Published in conjunction with the UK Chamber of Shipping, it contains passage planning information and the latest navigational guidance and practical advice for the region. It includes full-colour, pull-out chartlets, details of traffic hotspots and main ferry routes, weather and tidal information, and TSS and VTS information.

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This Passage Planning Guide provides up-to-date information for the safe and controlled transit of ships through the English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea, covering passages to and from:


  • MAAS/Rotterdam
  • Sunk/Thames
  • Wandelaar/Schelde
  • Elbe/Weser/Jade.


The 2019 edition has been fully revised and updated with assistance from serving deep-sea pilots and leading industry organisations. It now includes guidance covering German Bight.


The Guide will be a valuable source of reference at every stage of the passage (appraisal, planning, execution and monitoring). It highlights aids to navigation, traffic separation schemes, distinctive chart features, traffic hotspots, potential hazards, etc, which are essential considerations for a controlled and safe passage.

PART 1 – Background and Supporting Notes to the Guide

1.1    Introduction

1.2    DW Route, UKC and Increase in Draught due to Rolling on VLCCs and ULCSs

1.3    Considerations for Planning Routes in the TSSs off Terschelling/German Bight

1.4    Preparation

1.5    Passage Planning Guidance

1.6    Channel Navigation Information Service (CNIS)

1.7    Right of Way

1.8    Background to Deep Sea Pilotage in the North Sea, English Channel and the Skagerrak

1.9    Using Services of a Deep Sea Pilot

1.10  Deep Sea Pilot Stations

1.11  SWATH Pilot Tenders

1.12  Deep Sea Pilotage Agencies

1.13  AIS, Local Requirements and Reporting

1.14  VHF Communication and Collision Avoidance

1.15  Visual Aids to Navigation

1.16  Coverage of the Relevant Volumes of the ‘Admiralty Sailing Directions’

1.17  Charts and Nautical Publications

1.18  Tidal and Current Effects

1.19  General Direction of Buoyage

1.20  Traffic and Main Ferry Routes

1.21  Wind Farms

1.22  Groundings and Collisions in the English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea – Case Studies

1.23  Traffic Hotspots


PART 2 – Passage Notes

NE-bound Approaches to Cap Gris-Nez

NE-bound Cap Gris-Nez to Sunk

NE-bound Cap Gris-Nez to Wandelaar

NE-bound Cap Gris-Nez to North Hinder/MAAS

NE-bound Cap Gris-Nez to Elbe/Jade Weser Pilots

SW-bound Elbe/Jade Weser Pilots to South of Varne

SW-bound MAAS to South of Varne

SW-bound Wandelaar to South of Varne

SW-bound Sunk to South of Varne

SW-bound Outward from The Varne


PART 3 – Annexes

Annex 1 – Pre-Entry Bridge Team Meeting

Annex 2 – MGN 364 Navigation: Traffic Separation Schemes – Application of Rule 10 and Navigation in the Dover Strait

Annex 3 – MGN 375 Navigation: Maritime Safety Information (MSI)

Annex 4 – MGN 506 Navigation: Deep-Sea Pilotage in the North Sea, English Channel and the Skagerrak

Annex 5 – MGN 564 (Amendment 1) Marine Casualty and Marine Incident Reporting

Annex 6 – MSN 1831 Vessel Traffic Monitoring Notification and Reporting Requirements for Ships and Ports

Annex 7 – Marine Accident Investigation Agency Contacts

Annex 8 – Navigation and Weather Warnings Diagrams

Rigorous passage planning can significantly minimise the risk of navigational error, particularly in areas of high traffic density and restricted sea room such as those found in the English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea.


This Guide aims to assist with passage planning along the main shipping routes and to and from the major ports in the region. An overview of the essential navigation references for each leg of the route is provided.


It is recommended that all important information for the passage is compiled for use by the OOW and made available:


  • On the navigational chart or ECDIS
  • as a set of ship-specific passage notes.


The Passage Notes in this Guide should be available on the chart table to assist with continuous passage monitoring.


The Passage Notes in this Guide provide a general indication of traffic flow, although it remains the responsibility of the OOW to plot suitable tracks, using the Passage Notes for assistance. They cover primary lights and buoys, distinctive chart features, points of radar prominence and notes on areas that are critical to the transit.


Passage planning recommendations also draw on the ‘Bridge Procedures Guide’ (ICS) for guidance, a document that is usually available on board. Information also comes from two Nautical Institute publications, ‘Bridge Team Management’ and ‘Bridge Watchkeeping’. Additionally, further passage planning guidance for paper charts and ECDIS can be found in three Witherby publications, ‘Passage Planning Guidelines’, ‘ECDIS Passage Planning and Watchkeeping’ and ‘Rule 10 TSS’.


The Dover Strait was the first IMO approved TSS and was the first to be fully covered by radar surveillance. The Dover Strait TSS has a Mandatory Reporting Scheme that is IMO approved and requires all ships >300 GT to make a report before proceeding through the service area, known as (CALDOVREP), to either Centre Régional Opérationnel de Surveillance et de Sauvetage (CROSS) Gris-Nez for the NE lane, or Dover Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) for the SW lane.


Because of differences in operating cultures and practices between shipping companies, it is not always possible to provide definitive advice within this Guide. As an example, bridge and engine room manning remain matters for shipboard attention that may require annotation of the Passage Notes before use.

Witherby Publishing Group

WPGL titles are developed using scripts developed by technical experts that are peer reviewed within work groups. Typically, they seek to improve understanding of the regulations, recommendations and guidelines issued by Industry.

WPGL staff have significant expertise in the fields of navigation and hazardous cargoes as well as in the presentation of complex subjects in a graphic and easy to understand manner.

UK Chamber of Shipping

The UK Chamber of Shipping is the trade association and voice of the UK shipping industry. We work with Government, parliament, international organisations and others to champion and protect the industry on behalf of our members.

It is our mission to deliver for our members trusted specialist expertise, lobbying and influence at a UK level on maritime issues across national, European and international government and governmental bodies. By combining the strength of our members with this expertise we will advance the competitive strength of the industry ensuring that the UK remains as a leader in the global maritime business.

Title: Passage Planning Guide – English Channel, Dover Strait and Southern North Sea (2019 Edition)
Number of Volumes: 1
Edition: Sixth
Product Code: WS1670K
ISBN: ISBN 13: 978-1-85609-841-0 (9781856098410), ISBN 10: 1-85609-841-9 (1856098419)
Published Date: August 2019
Binding Format: Hardback
Book Height: 300 mm
Book Width: 260 mm
Book Spine: 40 mm
Weight: 2.00 kg
Author: UK Chamber of Shipping

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