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Maritime Blogs

Blogs by Maritime Community

Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in communication

In the new era of 2017 Maritime English is a must for all the seafarers working globally. It is vitally important that those involved in any operational situation communicate effectively.

Maritime English proved to be a very important part of a future navigating officer’s training and it will still gain in importance as long as the shipping industry is in progress. It’s only up to young seafarers to get acquainted with Maritime English as their lives, other crew members’ lives and the ship’s integrity might depend on this particular aspect.

When students that are not native English go on board merchant vessels for the first time to be Apprentice Deck Officers (often called Deck Cadets) they find it hard to learn anything from experienced Officers who are speaking to them in English and also these Officers are not always speaking a correct English.

As it is well known, most of the maritime accidents happen due to human errors and these occur especially because of bad communication.This is a result of not using standard Maritime English that should be well known by all crew members of a ship, with a special attention drawn towards young Apprentices.

Because the concept of a single nationality crew is no longer met in the world shipping industry, proper communication can be achieved only by using Maritime English focusing especially on young Apprentices as they are the mistakes sensitive ones.

I would like to dedicate this blog to this particular issue for which I would also be referring anecdotes from my experience as a Master and also from various research papers on the subject of Maritime English and discuss how the technology can help in the training of Maritime English. 


Why only English for the Merchant Navy?

Nowadays it is well known all around the shipping industry that English is the main and only language that should be used in any type of maritime communication. Even so, more and more people, especially students of Maritime Universities from countries where a different language is used for teaching, have trouble understanding the importance of speaking English.

Their English language should also be fluent and easily understandable by all the other members of the team or crew that are not native English. English is the international language that is used worldwide and therefore the shipping industry accepted it as the main language on board ships and in communications ship-to-ship and ship-to-coast.

In this era of globalization, the Apprentice Deck Officers wishing to go on board merchant ships cannot afford to be left out for not mastering English. This is the main reason for which teachers from Maritime Universities all over the world should try to explain to their students the importance of knowing Maritime English.

It does not matter the subject that the teacher has to teach during his/her classes as long as the specific maritime courses would have the keywords attached in English. It is worth noting that the new learners (in this case students from a Maritime University) of a language (English language) really do need to build a solid foundation of knowledge and it is useful for them that all of their teachers know and control Maritime English. It should become really easy for them to use some important maritime terms used daily on board ships and in any type of communications.

During the last years, it has been noticed the appearance of an important system inside Maritime Education and Training and that is training the Deck Apprentices by using the simulators. It has been generally agreed that the graduates of some Maritime Universities need a proper training regarding Maritime English during the study years by using simulators in order to keep up with the changes that occur on board a merchant ship due to advances made in Maritime Education and Training as a direct result of equipment development, smaller crews that can operate ships exactly in the same way and at the same level of professionalism as the larger crews used in the good old days, reduced time spent in ports for ship’s operations and so on.

The modern Deck Officer must understand the basic concepts of the navigation systems used nowadays and in order to accomplish this they need a proper Maritime English to evaluate their output’s accuracy and finally getting the right possible navigational decisions. For a new Deck Apprentice embarked onboard a merchant ship for the first time it is important to know an adequate Maritime English and this can be obtained only by a proper training including training on simulators.







The need for effective communications at sea and ashore is internationally well known for all the shipping industry and the seafarers are obliged to gain the appropriate skills and knowledge to communicate effectively and efficiently. Communication is an essential part of human interaction. The benefits of effective communication are many and obvious as they enhance all aspects of our personal and professional lives.

Ineffective or misunderstood communications in our personal lives may give rise to problems or embarrassment but in our professional lives, the results of misunderstandings may have much more serious results. In the world of international shipping, with seafarers from many countries sailing on ships all over the world, effective communication ship-to-ship, and ship-to-coast is vitally important.

Today it is quite normal for ships around the world to sail with a complement of twelve able crew members. It is also possible for this very same vessel to sail around with twelve completely different nationalities, all speaking English daily, all communicating, socializing and swearing in that one common language. All of them have learned and maybe most of them are still learning to use English on a daily basis at work and as the communication language.

Some twenty years ago a certain vessel ended up aground not five minutes after exiting Falmouth dry dock. Whilst the damage was not great and the vessel managed to scrape herself off the mud to proceed on her way (after suitable inspection and a new Master), the event occurred simply due to the language barrier on board.

The very frustrated Chinese Captain was at the moment of the grounding, spitting hysterically into the mouthpiece of the bridge phone in Mandarin. He was obviously trying to educate the Nigerian Chief Engineer below, who was by then shriveled in fear underneath the console, that he needed an eastern movement on the engine.

Due to the serious lack of a common language, regulations, like the one produced by IMO, came into being.

It can also be pointed out that many ships floating around today are filled from top to bottom with some weird speaking Scotsmen that even a Scottish lowlander cannot understand (some say this is not English, more like a group of people clearing their throats in a loud and unapologetic fashion) and others have noted that some  ships sail around with Singaporeans who have created their own English language which again nobody can understand and that comes without a dictionary, but this anomaly might have to be accepted without question.

My personal view on this is that no law in this world, no dictionary, translator or reduction in salary is going to make a Scotsman or Singaporean talk in understandable English so whilst all other nations have made great effort to learn the language and to use it in favour of their own tongue, they will just have to accept the fact that half of those whose mother tongue is English can’t be understood by anybody else.

IMO analyses report of casualties and accidents in order to see if there are any lessons to be learned for the future. Many accidents are found to be due mainly to operational issues of proper procedure, maintenance, and design, rather than to proper implementation of regulations, but the effectiveness of bridge resource management and particularly ineffective relationships between Master, haveChief Engineer, crew and pilot are recurrent themes.

Communication difficulties often occur in these areas due in part to cultural differences but also due to language ‘barriers’ which seem to be a big problem as the crew members do not want to acknowledge the fact that communication (especially a proper one which implies using an English language that can be understood by anybody) is very important if you want a safe voyage from point A to point B.

Because most maritime accidents are caused by human error, notably breakdowns in communication or cooperation, the legislation nowadays emphasizes the importance of the English language proficiency in relation to safety at sea. Instruction and practice of maritime English for communication and cooperation is an important element in maritime education.

Maritime English is to a great extent restricted to IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases(SMCP), which builds on a basic knowledge of English and has been drafted in a simplified version of maritime English. It includes phrases for use in routine situations such as berthing as well as standard phrases and responses for use in emergency situations. Under the STCW 1978, as amended, the ability to understand and use the SMCP is required for the certification of officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnages or above.

An integrated bridge simulation system is primarily designed and introduced to train and develop potential cadets and officers with the necessary knowledge and skills in properly and correctly stimulating and managing a vessel.

Whereas a new and alternative use of the integrated bridge simulation system has been discussed and proven to be suitable and effective in training and assessing communication skills, especially in contextualizing the practice of the mandatory part of the IMO SMCP, reinforcing the trainees to play different roles in a realistic atmosphere and environment.

A multitude of new methodologhasbeen explored and discussed in recent years in an attempt to approach the training and testing the proficiency of maritime English that meets the International standards laid out in STCW.

Among those trendy guidelines, utilizing integrated bridge simulation system in a bridge activities context is deemed as one of the most effective experiential learning and training methods, which will allow the trainees accustomed to a workplace environment to expand their practice little by little, so that they may communicate and pass messages with confidence when taking up their future jobs onboard.

In the light of many previous discussions in the aspect of using integrated bridge simulation system in maritime English practice, it can be concluded that affirmativeness in the possibilities is obvious.

However, solutions in combining this technology with operational teaching and assessing maritime communications especially with coursework design have not much been referred to. Using the integrated bridge simulation system can assist maritime English teaching, training, and assessing.

Collaborated operation of the system can be of benefit in facilitating communication and maritime English training and practice, as well as enhancing mutual understanding of the navigation customs and culture background among cadets and seafarers from different countries. 



An integrated bridge simulation system is primarily designed and introduced to train and develop potential cadets and officers with the necessary knowledge and skills in properly and correctly handling and managing a vessel. Whereas a new and alternative use of the integrated bridge simulation system has been discussed and proven to be suitable and effective in training and assessing communication skills, especially in contextualizing the practice of the mandatory part of the IMO SMCP, reinforcing the trainees to play different roles in a realistic atmosphere and environment.

It has been decided that most of the scenarios and contents in SMCP can be flexibly designed or tailored and properly practiced in an integrated bridge simulation system based environment. The key task then is how to organize and implement the syllabus of Maritime English teaching and learning via this effective learning by pedagogic methodology(The discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education).

From past few years, there have been many discussions regarding an attempt to approach the training and testing the proficiency of Maritime English that meets the international standards pointed out in STCW. Using integrated bridge simulation system in a bridge activities context seems to be one of the most effective experiential learning and training methods, which will allow the future Deck Officers to get accustomed to a workplace environment and to expand their practice little by little, so that they may communicate and pass messages with confidence when taking up their future jobs onboard.

Taking into account many discussions regarding the use of integrated bridge simulation system in Maritime English practice, it can be concluded that affirmativeness in the possibilities is obvious. However, solutions in combining this technology with operational teaching and assessing maritime communications especially with coursework design have not much been referred to. Using the integrated bridge simulation system can assist Maritime English teaching, training, and assessing. 

Collaborated operation of the system can be of benefit in facilitating communication and Maritime English training and practice, as well as enhancing mutual understanding of the navigation customs and cultural background among cadets and seafarers from different countries. 



During the simulator classes, the instructors should also be using different scenarios where a proper Maritime English should be used. The instructor who supervises the scenarios should initially allow the students to familiarize with the instruments and controls found on the bridge of a merchant ship. The student should then be able to locate and use the bridge equipment in normal operating conditions. 

The exercises should get more and more difficult and the students get accustomed with the procedures used for turning on the navigation equipment. Every exercise should be preceded by a briefing and followed by a group discussion - debriefing, in which the actions and decisions taken by the student are analyzed and it is important to mention that these discussions are performed in English. 

During exercises, every student should play different roles within the bridge team and will have the possibility of taking part in all the operations done during the watch, covering all the steps in the chain of command of the navigational bridge and in this way also getting acquainted with all the aspects of a proper communication performed in Maritime English on the bridge and during a navigational watch. 

The purpose of these exercises is to achieve the following goals:

• Familiarization with the use of instruments and controls from the navigational bridge; 

• The ability to make decisions;

• Organizing the bridge/engine team;

• Understanding the individual role in the chain of command while working in a team;

• Understanding the specific tasks according to certain situations;

• Understanding the necessity of a good planning, following step by step the checklists, and the scheduling of each specific procedure;

• Good understanding of the watchkeeping procedures;

• Getting the expertise in identifying the operational problems and solving them;

• Familiarizing with communication in Maritime English.



Nowadays most maritime education and training institutes have installed integrated bridge simulation systems, based on which maritime teaching and training have been designed and experimented. In response to these changes, course and syllabus design and organization as well as instruction and evaluation have thus undergone reforms since the attention of simulator training has been particularly drawn to. 

Maritime English course design and organization is critically important throughout the whole training program. It ought to take into account the emphasis IMO guidelines on ship management lays in the need for good communication. The major concepts and skills with this aspect are: Understanding culture differences; Situational awareness; Close loop communication; Briefing and Debriefing; and Communication procedures. Effective communications are an essential ingredient to safe and efficient ship operations. 

Communication can be achieved in many ways but the main method for operational communications is through speech. And when in an operational situation such as berthing a ship or fighting a fire, it is vitally important that those involved can communicate effectively. 




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In maritime folklore, this ghost ship has left the maximum impact like no other by inspiring numerous paintings, films, books, opera, etc. Van der Decken, the captain, on its way towards East Indies, with sheer determination, tried to steer his ship through the adverse weather condition of the Cape of Good Hope but failed miserably even after vowing to drift until the doomsday. 


Legend says that since then they have been cursed to sail the oceans for eternity. 


According to some sources, 17th-century Dutch captain Bernard Fokke is the model for the captain of the ghost ship. Fokke was renowned for the speed of his trips from the Netherlands to Java and was suspected of being in league with the Devil. 


The first version of the legend as a story was printed in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine for May 1821, which puts the scene as the Cape of Good Hope. 


This story introduces the name Captain Hendrick Van der Decken for the captain and the motifs (elaborated by later writers) of letters addressed to people long dead being offered to other ships for delivery, but if accepted will bring misfortune; and the captain having sworn to round the Cape of Good Hope though it should take until the day of judgment.

She was an Amsterdam vessel and sailed from port seventy years ago. Her master's name was Van der Decken. He was a staunch seaman, and would have his own way in spite of the devil. For all that, never a sailor under him had reason to complain; though how it is on board with them nobody knows. 

The story is this: that in doubling the Cape they were a long day trying to weather the Table Bay. However, the wind headed them, and went against them more and more, and Van der Decken walked the deck, swearing at the wind. 

Just after sunset a vessel spoke him, asking him if he did not mean to go into the bay that night. Van der Decken replied: "May I be eternally damned if I do, though I should beat about here till the day of judgment." And to be sure, he never did go into that bay, for it is believed that he continues to beat about in these seas still, and will do so long enough.  


This vessel is never seen but with foul weather along with her. 



To this day, hundreds of fisherman and sailors from deep-sea have claimed to have witnessed the Flying Dutchman continuing its never-ending voyage across the waters.


Have you ever seen,  The flying dutchman?..



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How good was the connectivity and communications services you experienced on your last voyage? How easy were they to access, what services did you use and what future services would you like ship operators to provide?

Futurenautics is conducting its annual Crew Connectivity Survey and would like to hear from you about your experiences of connectivity at sea. The survey is a multiple choice online survey for serving seafarers only. As in 2014, Futurenautics will make the full report available free to all seafarers and will also give away 3 Smart Watches in a prize draw to 3 lucky survey participants.

We believe that the publication of the full research findings will benefit seafarers and the wider industry by giving a full picture of the current connectivity facilities provided at sea, allowing companies and seagoing staff to benchmark provision by sector and across the industry.

For your chance to win one of three Smart Watches please take the survey by clicking on the following link:


To download the results of last year’s Futurenautics Crew Communications Survey click here:



Many thanks and good luck!

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Marco Polo is a cooperative of ex-seaman, involved in a project to support seaman with new innovative services.
Nobody may really understand what means to be sailor, that's away we decided to stop our job and try to make really the difference. The sailors are always forgotten's category of worker, without any kind of properly assistance in the port. 
The family point is once of our main challenge which we take seriously in charge to give all seaman the chance, with many different services, to reduce the distance between their darling. Internet on board has been once of our first goal to resolve immediatly, we bring mifi devices directly on the ship and we give them the possibility to be connected FREE, with their families. "My Family"is once of our program, promoted to give the chance for the family, to send personal effect and box untill 3kg for the ship in arriving in our port in charge, LAS PALMAS of Gran Canaria. We will take it and we will bring on board of the sailor when the ship will arrive in the port. Free From Fee. Even the sailors may book from our web site, a service for delivering flower worldwide in combined date for anniversary or birthday. All our effort to reduce the problem relative to this strong job. Many more service though just for seaman are listed on our web site, most of them are free from fee, like recharging of sim card and sending money home by western union. Our cooperatore cover many more service and even when the seaman requiere a different items from our catalogue, o different service from ours, whe try to guide him and help him in all the ways. Why we do all this? Because we was seaman , we know what it means, so now we try to change something and to do the difference.

We are strongly active in internet on social network and on our web site, taking in consideration all nice initiative which may help the seaman to be more assisted. If you also have same more idea, just write here or in our web or facebook too. We are new, but we are strong and with a really interest for seaman, so we believe to make really something of concrete. We are in charge in LAS PALMAS for now, but our plan is to create a kind of nets all around the world, with only a name and logo, MARCOPOLO, in the name of this famous sailor we will be present all the time a seaman need us. We really appreciate all the person which are intrest to take part our project with new ideas or even just sharing our web site on facebook and more, this really may help us to be strong and to spread soon our support for seaman even on your city. Thanks in advance all of you, God always bless all our supporter and all the seaman fareway from their darling.


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  Hello Everyone, It has been a pretty long gap since my last post. Well, now that I am back here, A very very belated Happy New Year to all. And yes!!! thank you for your tremendous response to my posts here. I hope they were helpful. Your kind words are always my inspiration.


                                                               Coming to the specific heading of this post, well... admit it. We all have faced it at some point in our life. E-samudra website is the lifeline of an Indian Seafarer and it leaves no stone unturned in throwing spanners into the daily smooth cog of a life of ours. The most common problem thrown up by it is this:




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Golden Bollard 2017


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