Maritime English is the common ground for a true global industry with strong international presence, not bound to a specific country or region. It is essential to have a common language that everyone on board a vessel can understand and communicate in. Actually, not just for the vessel but ashore as well. A classic example used to reflect the internationalsim of shipping is that it is quite common that the ships are owned by Greeks, insured by English, financed by Americans, fly the flag of Panama, are provided with class by the Norwegians, are built in China, and scrapped in Bangladesh. By definition this makes maritime English considered as main tool for communication at sea and ashore.

Nowadays, crews consist of men and women from all over the world, and often, a ship’s crew comes from a number of different countries, even if the ship flies their national flag.  It is common that maritime jobs in relation to shipboard operations require certain level of English language proficiency.  

To overcome communion problems the IMO developed the SMCP which includes phrases which have been developed to cover the most important safety-related fields of verbal shore-to-ship (and vice-versa), ship-to-ship and on-board communications. The aim is to get round the problem of language barriers at sea and avoid misunderstandings which can cause accidents. By using specific terms and abbreviations in English rules out any confusion that would arise if normal terms that are used in day-to-day life were to be uttered. The issue thought is that employing seamen from different nationalities brings different standards of training on board ship, both for what Maritime English is concerned in terms of SMCP, and for the level of knowledge regarding STCW, SOLAS, MARPOL and other.

You may wonder now what happens when the Captain or the Deck officers need to communicate with the crew, to another ship, or to shore? This is why English is used, being a universal language; it is the only way seafarers could effectively communicate among one another. Thus, maritime English allow ship to ship communication, ship to shore communication and internal communications on board a vessel.

Companies employing non-native English employees have an obligation to ensure if the employee has the required Maritime English knowledge and communication skill.  Communication is one reason why Maritime English is essential. Maritime English is vitally important for a multitude of reasons:

  • the safety of the crew,
  • the efficiency of daily tasks and
  • the integrity of the ship.

Maritime English

  • can be challenging for beginners; and it takes time to grasp and digest the language. Having in mind that people thing and dream in their own language. It is scarier that people speak their mother tongue when they panic, and this highlights the need of as common language.
  • is a skill that makes seafarers more employable, assists in career escalation, and  of course, helping newcomers to break into the industry.
  • once mastered, is a wonderfully efficient way to conduct one’s self on a ship, from altering English, words and phrases to creating a code language for hazardous situations, this skill will serve you well at sea.

For international seafarers to understand completely they will first need to improve their general English using maritime examples, cases, regulations and vocabularies. Our experts in maritime English,  Dr.Palaeonida and Mrs.Xenitidou are delivering two master class courses in Maritime English course, one for seafarers and another for shipping managers working ashore,