Published: June 2022
The sea areas from Skagen to Bornholm act as the entrance to the Baltic Sea for ships coming from the North Sea. The entrance to the Western Baltic is characterised by narrow channels and shallow water. The entire Baltic Sea is shallow, with an average depth of around 50 m. The reduced room to manoeuvre and high concentrations of traffic in the region have historically presented ships with an elevated risk of collision and grounding.
In recognition of the physical constraints of the region, and the risks they present to shipping, the IMO has long recognised that special recommendations and routeing measures need to be in place at the entrance to the Baltic Sea. In 2020, additional recommendations and routeing measures were implemented to further reduce the risks to shipping, prompting the first edition of this Guide.
The purpose of this Guide is to provide navigators with the details of recommended routes, routeing measures and reporting systems when passing through this restricted sea area. The information has been supplemented by expert guidance on confronting the particular difficulties presented by traffic, water flow and weather patterns from pilots who operate in the region.
Whether following the shallowest route through the Sound (Øresund), or the deeper routes through the Great Belt (Storebælt), all ships are recommended to carry a Danish licensed pilot. All ships should be aware of the shallow water conditions on each of these routes and the effect the weather may have in reducing the available depth of water.
This Guide aims to provide navigators with the information they need to support the pilot during their transit through this region.