The IMO- Standard Marine Communication Phrases and AIS Language Requirements


By Prof. Dr. Peter Trenkner and Vladimir Sevcenko, Wismar University - Dpt. of Maritime Studies Dpt.



Prof. Dr. Boris Pritchard, Faculty of Maritime Studies, University of Rijeka -- Croatia

Chairman of the IMEC Papers and Activities Committee.




Don’t write off your writing skills telegraph | | October 2014

Dr Nadya Naumova of the Nikola Vaptsarov Naval Academy in Bulgaria

Catherine Logie , manager of UK-based maritime training fi rm Marlins

In all the effort to get multinational crews speaking English, have we forgotten how to write? Many safety-critical documents aren’t clear, say the experts, and even our routine communications could be better.

Click here to download the entire article.

Paper was presented at the IMEC-26 Conference in Terschelling - Netherlands, July 2014


Europe leads the way in setting international standards for Maritime English -- by Clive Cole, Martin Ziarati and Alison Noble

20 years without standard teaching and assessment frameworks for Maritime English suggests that the industry has neglected its responsibility to make the seas safer and to give seafarers the skills they need to compete in a global workforce. European maritime stakeholders are now leading the way with the SeaTALK project.

Click here to read the entire article



Heba Elsayed - The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport (AASTMT) Institute for Language Studies (ILS) - Alexandria Egypt


Using Google Maps in teaching Maritime English - Click here to download the presentation



IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases
How and why the SMCP was accomplished and introduced;
the teaching of the SMCP in Vessel Traffic Service context
by José Manuel Diaz Pérez - Head of Area - Centro Jovellanos - SASEMAR


Hofstede's cultural dimensions: a critical approach

Fabienne Knudsen, MA, PhD, Research Unit of Maritime Medicine, Denmark

Human error in multi-national manning

Lisa Loloma Froholdt, M.A. Ph.D. Student, University of Southern Denmark





Speaking up for seaferers - click here to read more.

"Last month, as so often before, a student of mine returned from his training period with a major shipping company, and to my questions ‘How was it?’ and ‘Have you learned a lot?’ the reply was: ‘Yes, I learned how things are in real practice, and to be quite honest, that is not always related to what you have taught us’. This, of course, is shocking to hear, although one gets used to it".

Finding the right word - click here to read more.

The new International Maritime Dictionary is set to become essential reading onboard every ship with a multinational crew. Lead author Peter van Kluijven explains what’s on offer…

By Peter C. van Kluijven


The IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) - Getting Communication in Good Trim click here to read more.

Please, dear expert reader, guess what the Ukrainian watchstanding officer did when he heard the following message on VHF channel 16: "Any ship around Morrison Head hear me - MAYDAY Ranger/WXYZ - two holds blazing furiously - no chance to put fire out - plates already buckling - the machinery let us down - total blackout - please come at once - situation on the brink - she may go down any minute - we can't last much longer - spotting Morrison Lighthouse some three miles or thereabouts norwest - come in"

By Peter Trenkner

SEAFARER TRAINING: "Are we all on the same page?"

Despite the intentions of the industry, we all know there's some way to go before English is fully established as the Language of the Sea. SARAH ROBINSON (Nautilus) finds out what is academic community is doing to move things along. Click here to read her article.


ACCENT IS ON SAFE SPEECH - BY Professor NAOYUKI TAKAGI, from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology

Communications in the multinational shipping industry can be a challenge — and local accents can make things even harder. Professor NAOYUKI TAKAGI, from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology, describes a project to tackle the problems, which needs your support… click here to read more.


Making the mix work - click here to read more.

Olesya Lutsenko teaches maritime English and cultural awareness at the De Ruyter Maritime Institute in the Netherlands. She is a regular participant at our IMEC conferences and has produced a number of highly interesting papers and workshops. Her experiences have strengthened her belief that maritime students must be specially trained to deal with the multicultural working environment they are likely to encounter at sea. Her article "Making the mix work" was published by Nautilus in September 2010.

By Olesya Lutsenko


Breaking down the barriers of culture - click here to read more.

By Catherine Logie, Manager of Marlins, Author of IMO Model Course 3.17, Maritime English; lead author of the IMO's Maritime English Instructor Training Course; member of IMLA's International Maritime English Conference Steering Committee.

Make the most of diversity- click here to read more.

Alison Noble, lecturer in maritime English at the Antwerp Maritime Academy, on cultural awareness training with a call for maritime lecturers to capitalise on existing cultural diversity in their own institutions and to recognise the benefi ts that it can bring…


Time to engineer new standards- click here to read more.

English language requirements for marine engineers need reviewing, argues University of Rijeka lecturer Sandra Tominac.



Professor Boris Pritchard of the University of Rijeka investigates the place of Maritime English in the training of seafarers, and discusses how greater international standardisation can be achieved.



SWOT-analysis of IMEC by Clive Cole - World Maritime University, Sweden.

"Strengths" - "Weaknesses" - "Opportunities" - "Threats"


The International maritime Language Programme - IMLP
A review by Prof. Dr. Peter Trenkner
Wismar University Dept. of Maritime Studies - arnemünde /Germany




Seafarers International Research Centre - SIRC

All the SIRC publications published since 1997



The importance of successful English communication for safety at sea cannot be overestimated. The purpose of this page is to prepare future seafarers for a wide variety of English pronunciation encountered over the radio. The English that deck officers listen to on the bridge seldom comes from native speakers who speak perfect "textbook" English such as Received Pronunciation (RP). In reality, they are often required to understand English messages spoken with foreign accents. This may require some familiarization even for native speakers, and is indeed a challenging task for non-native learners of English. To provide a "real" spoken Maritime English data base for prospective seafarers, 7 messages taken from the Standard Maritime Communication Phrases (SMCP) were chosen and recorded by various speakers, including Dr. Peter Trenkner, who prepared the SMCP. By going through these samples, you can join a World Maritime English Tour without actually going to sea.

Naoyuki Takagi - TUMSAT


Three articles related to SAFETY and SECURITY

by Prof. Pietro del Rosso ME Lecturer at the Mediterranean Training Center Ltd.

and I.P.S.I.A.M. "Amerigo Vespucci" - Molfetta - Italy

Port State Control

Ship and Port Facility Security Code - ISPSl

International Safety Management Code





The International Maritime English Conference: a SWOT ANALYSIS


· English is popular

· English is the lingua franca of the Shipping Industry

· English enables seafarers to work globally

· Obvious need - indispensable - cannot be ignored

· Its aim as the means of communication for professional purposes is crystal clear

· That an international body like IMEC exists accentuates the status of ME

· The SMCP

· Maritime English is compulsory; required by STCW & SOLAS Conventions

· The correlation between English competency and safety is now widely recognised

· Management now realises the importance of Maritime English

· ME promotes co-operation between subject and English teachers - "Twinning"

· Subject teaching using English as the medium of instruction, particularly at post-graduate level, is becoming popular

· Teamwork/twinning give career possibilities to teachers

· Growing co-operation between language teacher and subject teacher

· Teachers of English often eager to gather maritime knowledge and experience

· Maritime English helps the user to communicate in a precise manner

· As a branch of English for Special Purposes, ME has limited vocabulary, grammar and literature

· Language teachers are often highly motivated and inspire the learner

· State funding for education is allowing technology to spread quickly

· Students need ME support throughout their courses of study .

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· That valuable information is only disseminated at Workshops, there being little or no communication in between

· That there is no list available of "who's who" in Maritime English - not even an address list

· Maritime English is often mistaken as only being the SMCP

· The SMCP prevents other aspects of ME being considered due to lack of time

· Many students are anxious not to "lose face" in class - often lack confidence to speak and resist oral participation

· Teachers are too teacher-centred and do not allow the students to speak

· Even qualified officers are afraid to speak in English

· Learning English at sea is not enough

· De-motivating classroom environment and facilities

· Classes too large

· Students have vastly different entry levels (need for threshold level)

· Wide variety of levels in same class make (realistic) goals untenable

· The school system often fails to provide students with the necessary foundation in English for studying at maritime academies

· Lack of exposure to English - big difference between cities and rural areas

· Co-operation between subject and ME teacher is rarely realised

· Subject teachers often have no knowledge of English - English teachers often have no knowledge of maritime subjects/industry

· One-way communication in classes from teacher to students

· The "real" subjects are often perceived as more important by management and other staff · Funding constraints

· Difficult or impossible to get English students out of the classroom into a simulator, a port or on board

· Big cultural differences in language learning

· Resistance among many teachers and management to CLT

· Lack of co-ordination nationally

· No national (or international) standards

· Students only learn to pass tests

· Lack of cultural awareness

· Insufficient number of qualified (maritime) English teachers

· Management fails to emphasise the importance of Maritime English

· Appropriate text books are in urgent need - as are qualified teachers

· ME not perceived as a real subject

· ME often seen as a necessary evil by management

· Cheap, part-time labour - attitude that any native speaker can teach English - attitude that native speakers (even without qualifications) are superior to non-native (even qualified) teachers

· Lack of specific ME teaching qualifications for teachers

· No career structure for ME teachers

· Lack of (in-house) professional staff development · Institutions concentrate too much on achieving minimum requirements for study rather than facilitating excellence

· English required on board vessels by law but some companies only pay lip-service to screening/training.

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· English often a compulsory subject within national school systems

· Attend gatherings like IMEC · An IMEC newsletter

· An IMEC website

· Use the Internet

· Co-operate with subject teachers

· Include English in the subject classroom - so-called "twinning"

· Computer based instruction and assessment - often motivates students

· Use IMO model course supplemented withadditional local materials

· Hold English classes for the subject teachers

· Meet experts from the maritime industry

· Exchanges with other teachers - particularly through IMEC

· Use the proximity of Maritime Colleges to the sea in making language training relevant

· Show initiative and take students on visits to the local port, on board a vessel/training ship, to bridge/engine simulators

· Use simulators for communication exercises

· Engage maritime companies in supporting Maritime English as an aspect of improved safety by encouraging them to fund courses, training and visits on board

· Establish international standards in ME competency for different categories of crew

· Discuss a unified, international approach to Maritime English teaching

· Compile a "Who's who" of ME · Compile a contact list for ME teachers

· Establish closer contact with the students to influence their behaviour/performance

· Multinational crewing now provides job opportunities for ME teachers

· English proficiency provides the opportunity for both students and ME staff to seek employment outside own country

· The introduction of English as an "in-house" company language creates opportunities

· The emphasis on quality within (certain) sectors of the Maritime Industry

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· Modern technology - often frightens staff

· SMCP may de-motivate students and limit them to "monkey speak" if not taught in an appropriate maritime context

· Teachers have no "real" onboard experience

· Many (Maritime) English teachers are not (professionally) qualified

· Teaching Maritime English is not regarded as a positive career step

· In maritime academies language learning and language teaching have low status

· Too little time assigned to ME teaching

· Class size too big (China) and uneven for effective language learning

· Students learn specialist words out of context

· Lack of exposure to foreign speakers of English

· Future IMEC website should be carefully edited to include relevant material only

· Students want to improve their general command of English for career purposes

· The need for language instruction will die when communication is performed by machine (at sea)

· The decreasing number of students in some countries

· The belief in some countries that the English learnt at school is enough

· Some administrations fail to connect a sound knowledge of English with safety standards

· Competent English speakers are more likely to seek other, better paid employment than seafaring

· Seafaring is regarded as a low-status job and attracts students with poor educational backgrounds · Traditional methods of language teaching which are still popular among teachers

· Some administrators/managers demand that English acquisition be taken care of by the national school system or by the student in his/her own time

· Automatic translation will make ME acquisition a redundant activity

· Lack of resources and authentic materials

· Not co-operating with other teachers.


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