Ship planner


Ship planners manage the performance of a vessel. They ensure the safety of the vessel and its cargo, its operationality and link available vessels to available cargos in order to maximise the profitability of the voyages. They ensure that each container ship is loaded to its optimal capacity, while keeping berth times and handling costs to a minimum. They also plan the maintenance and overhaul of the ship, as well as the crew needed.

Other titles

The following job titles also refer to ship planner:

cargo planning and operations manager
cargo planning manager
inland ship planer
ship planer
cargo planning manager
manager of cargo planning and operations
cargo planning officer
cargo planning and operations manager
in-land vessel planner
inland vessel planner
cargo planing officer
cargo planning and operations manager
in-land water cargo planner
manager of cargo planning and operations
vessel cargo planner
cargo planing and operations manager
cargo planning manager
manager of cargo planing and operations
inland vessel cargo planner
vessel planner
in-land vessel cargo planner
inland water cargo planner
inland vessel cargo planer
inland ship planner
maritime ship cargo planner
cargo planing manager
vessel planer
cargo planning officer
maritime ship planner
inland water ship planner
manager of cargo planning and operations
inland vessel planer
ship cargo planer
inland water cargo planer
senior ship planner
ship cargo planner
cargo planning officer
ship cargo planner
inland water cargo planner
in-land ship planner
senior ship planer

Minimum qualifications

A high school diploma or equivalent is generally the minimum required to work as a ship planner.

ISCO skill level

ISCO skill level is defined as a function of the complexity and range of tasks and duties to be performed in an occupation. It is measured on a scale from 1 to 4, with 1 the lowest level and 4 the highest, by considering:

  • the nature of the work performed in an occupation in relation to the characteristic tasks and duties
  • the level of formal education required for competent performance of the tasks and duties involved and
  • the amount of informal on-the-job training and/or previous experience in a related occupation required for competent performance of these tasks and duties.

Ship planner is a Skill level 2 occupation.

Ship planner career path

Similar occupations

These occupations, although different, require a lot of knowledge and skills similar to ship planner.

ship pilot dispatcher
vessel operations coordinator
aircraft cargo operations coordinator
water traffic coordinator
port coordinator

Long term prospects

These occupations require some skills and knowledge of ship planner. They also require other skills and knowledge, but at a higher ISCO skill level, meaning these occupations are accessible from a position of ship planner with a significant experience and/or extensive training.

non-vessel operating common carrier
marine cargo inspector
aeronautical information specialist
deck officer
aeronautical information service officer

Essential knowledge and skills

Essential knowledge

This knowledge should be acquired through learning to fulfill the role of ship planner.

  • International regulations for cargo handling: The body of conventions, guidelines and rules which dictate the activity of loading and unloading cargo in international ports.
  • International Maritime Organisation conventions: Know International Maritime Organisation (IMO) conventions in order to maximise the efficiency and safety of international shipping.
  • National regulations on handling cargo: The national regulations governing the loading and unloading of cargo in ports within that country.
  • Types of maritime vessels: Know a large variety of maritime vessels and their characteristics and specifications. Use that knowledge to ensure that all security, technical, and maintenance measures are taken into account in their supply.
  • Vessel stability principles: Thoroughly understand the principles of vessel stability; follow safety requirements during loading and unloading of cargo.
  • Maritime transportation technology: Understand maritime transportation technology and stay up-to-date with the latest findings in the field. Apply this knowledge in operations and decision-making while on-board.
  • Maritime telecommunications: Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting equipment and overall operation of telecommunications systems.
  • Cargo industry: Thoroughly understand the cargo industry and its stakeholders, the structure of the industry and common challenges, and the operations of freight forwarders, airline cargo units, and others.
  • Principles of cargo stowage: Understand the principles of cargo stowage. Understand procedures by which containers should be efficiently loaded and unloaded, taking into account gravitational forces that are exerted during transportation.
  • Match vessels to shipping routes: Understand how particular types of ships are transport different kinds of cargo and operate on different shipping routes. Know the current maritime routes to plan and schedule the arrival and departure of ships from ports.

Essential skills and competences

These skills are necessary for the role of ship planner.

  • Handle customer requests related to cargo: Handle requests of port users and customers in the field of containers, shipping arrangements or cargo.
  • Operate radio equipment: Set up and operate radio devices and accessories, such as broadcast consoles, amplifiers, and microphones. Understand the basics of radio operator language and, when necessary, provide instruction in handling radio equipment correctly.
  • Apply company policies: Apply the principles and rules that govern the activities and processes of an organisation.
  • Communicate with customers: Respond to and communicate with customers in the most efficient and appropriate manner to enable them to access the desired products or services, or any other help they may require.
  • Manage safety standards for inland water transport: Manage and maintain safety standards and procedures in the field of inland water transport. Ensure that before dispatching any vessel, all regulations and standards are met. May also be required to act as a member of an Emergency Response Team.
  • Ensure customer focus: Attitude that puts customers at the centre of the business in all cases.
  • Follow ethical code of conduct in transport services: Carry out transport services according to accepted principles of right and wrong. This includes principles of fairness, transparency, and impartiality.
  • Possess visual literacy: Interpret charts, maps, graphics, and other pictorial presentations used in place of the written word. The graphics used vary from process to process; therefore, the professional must have sufficient knowledge of the field in order to follow and use the information presented.
  • Compose stowage plans: Compose stowage plans; knowledge of ballast systems and cargo loading process.
  • Oversee shipment routing: Organise the distribution of the cargo, also known as ‘forwarding’. Take into account the instructions of the client and determine where regular routing or various routings may be required.
  • Supervise unloading of cargo: Supervise unloading processes for equipment, cargo, goods and other items. Ensure that everything is handled and stored correctly in accordance with regulations and standards.
  • Operate maritime communication equipment: Operate and maintain maritime communication devices; conduct periodic inspections of communication equipment.
  • Supervise loading of cargo: Supervise the process of loading equipment, cargo, goods and other items. Ensure that all cargo is handled and stored properly in accordance with regulations and standards.
  • Comply with legal regulations: Ensure you are properly informed of the legal regulations that govern a specific activity and adhere to its rules, policies and laws.
  • Use different communication channels: Make use of various types of communication channels such as verbal, handwritten, digital and telephonic communication with the purpose of constructing and sharing ideas or information.
  • Operate stowage programmes: Operate stowage programmes used for controlling stability in vessels, loading operations, and cargo planning processes. Interpret graphical interfaces, stowage data and scenario variables.
  • Think analytically: Produce thoughts using logic and reasoning in order to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Recruit employees: Hire new employees by scoping the job role, advertising, performing interviews and selecting staff in line with company policy and legislation.
  • Use equipment for safe stowage: Use tools and equipment to perform safe stowage and ensure proper loading and securing of goods.
  • Apply regulations on cargo transport operations: Display knowledge of relevant local, national, European and international regulations, standards, and codes concerning the operation of freight transport.
  • Handle shipment risks: Handle risky or dangerous cargo; ensure that that every shipment operation is executed in an appropriate manner; calculate cargo weight; ensure that cranes are correctly positioned; see that containers fit into shipment.
  • Plan teamwork: Plan the working schedule of a group of people in order to meet all time and quality requirements.
  • Develop shipping itineraries: Develop a total journey scenario using equipment and specialised software. Plot multiple port voyages while optimising utilisation of cargo space and ship capacity throughout the entire voyage.
  • Write work-related reports: Compose work-related reports that support effective relationship management and a high standard of documentation and record keeping. Write and present results and conclusions in a clear and intelligible way so they are comprehensible to a non-expert audience.
  • Ensure safe loading of goods according to stowage plan: Monitor and ensure the safe and secure loading of materials and goods, as specified in the stowage plan.
  • Analyse ship operations: Provide a snapshot of ship operations and the manner in which systems are operated and maintained. Provide information for action that could be taken to improve performance, or to correct weaknesses.
  • Monitor the discharge of cargo: Develop cargo discharge plan and monitor the performance of the cranes that offload cargo from the vessel; ensure that relevant occupational safety requirements are met at all times.
  • Prepare visual data: Prepare charts and graphs in order to present data in a visual manner.
  • Read stowage plans: Read and comprehend content of stowage plans; basic knowledge of how to stow various types of cargo.
  • Maximise efficiency of crane operations: Minimise crane operations, additional crane movements, or ‘re-stows’ by effectively planning the organisation of containers in vessels. Analyse delivery schedules and movements for maximum efficiency, minimum cost, and smooth operations.
  • Operate scientific measuring equipment: Operate devices, machinery, and equipment designed for scientific measurement. Scientific equipment consists of specialised measuring instruments refined to facilitate the acquisition of data.
  • Have computer literacy: Utilise computers, IT equipment and modern day technology in an efficient way.
  • Plan transport operations: Plan mobility and transport for different departments in order to obtain the best possible movement of equipment and materials. Negotiate the best possible delivery rates. Compare different bids and select the most reliable and cost-effective bid.
  • Consider constraints in maritime shipping: Consider multiple constraints specific to maritime shipping such as: the maximum draught of ships; the depth of channels and canals; tide measures; and the respective impact on load capacity. Create detailed scenarios and integrate them into shipping planning.
  • Implement cost-effective cargo handling strategies on ships: Implement cost-effective strategies for loading and unloading of cargo on ships with the aim of maximising efficiency, reducing the resources expended, and assuring sufficient operations while increasing profit.
  • Calculate the amount of cargo on a vessel: Determine the weight of cargo on tanker ships and cargo vessels. Calculate the exact amount of loaded cargo or cargo to be discharged.
  • Measure ship tonnage: Measure ships to identify cargo hold and storage capacities.
  • Interpret graphical communication interfaces: Have the capacity to understand the various shapes and representations used in the schematics and 3D isometric model presented by communication programmes.
  • Maintain voyage logs: Maintain written records of events during a ship or aeroplane voyage.
  • Implement strategic planning: Take action on the goals and procedures defined at a strategic level in order to mobilise resources and pursue the established strategies.
  • Prepare documentation for international shipping: Understand how to prepare and process official documents for international shipping.

Optional knowledge and skills

Optional knowledge

This knowledge is sometimes, but not always, required for the role of ship planner. However, mastering this knowledge allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Continuous improvement philosophies: Underlying ideas of quality management systems. Implementation process of lean manufacturing, Kanban, Kaizen, Total Quality Management (TQM) and other continuous improvement systems.
  • Electronic communication: Data communication performed through digital means such as computers, telephone or e-mail.

Optional skills and competences

These skills and competences are sometimes, but not always, required for the role of ship planner. However, mastering these skills and competences allows you to have more opportunities for career development.

  • Anticipate potential deficiencies: Assess scenarios in order to anticipate and pinpoint potential deficiencies. Rely on experience combined with statistical probability to mitigate the risk of encountering setbacks.
  • Act reliably: Proceed in a way that one can be relied on or depended on.
  • Perform data analysis: Collect data and statistics to test and evaluate in order to generate assertions and pattern predictions, with the aim of discovering useful information in a decision-making process.
  • Negotiate logistics services: Reach an agreement on the planning and control of the movement of goods, and all related logistical supporting activities without losing sight of one’s own or others’ goals.
  • Operate marine communication systems: Operate on board marine communication systems; communicate with other ships or with on-shore control centre e.g. to send urgent messages concerning safety; transmit or receive alerts, etc.
  • Show intercultural awareness: Show sensibility towards cultural differences by taking actions which facilitate positive interaction between international organisations, between groups or individuals of different cultures, and to promote integration in a community.
  • Respond to changing navigation circumstances: Respond decisively and in sufficient time to unexpected and rapidly changing situations while navigating.
  • Use maritime English: Communicate in English employing language used in actual situations on board ships, in ports and elsewhere in the shipping chain.

ISCO group and title

4323 – Transport clerks

  1. Ship planner – ESCO
Last updated on December 7, 2022

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