Kidding aside, yes, it’s important that you know how to communicate in English clearly and effectively. So, English only please, seafarer.
A seafarer’s poor English communication skill is dangerous. That’s what researchers Nora Berg, Jenni Storgård and Jouni Lappalainen of The Centre for Maritime Studies in University of Turku had proven when they conducted a particular case study. Their paper entitled ‘The Impact of ship crews on the Maritime Safety’ was published online and I read something valuable about Maritime English from it.
Here’s what I’m talking about.
“Because of the international character of shipping, maritime English has proved to be a very important part of future officer training. If an officer is not used to speaking English, in the beginning it may be difficult to express oneself,” the authors wrote, highlighting the value of maritime English, particularly to those who aspire to be ship officers.
“A paper written by Popescu et al (2010) suggests that the improvement of the standard maritime English would help young apprentices to communicate and so to avoid accidents that happen due to human errors caused by bad communication.
“Despite the positive impacts of multinational crews, communication was seen as the major problem. When skills in English are not good enough, it increases the risk of misunderstandings.
“This is a risk considering the ship is a highly hierarchical system. Sampson & Zhao present an example of a captain who had poor knowledge of English.This caused problems with the lower ranks in terms of a loosened authority,” the source said.
Meanwhile, a more advanced level of maritime English had been recommended to be taught especially in schools of less developed countries and shore personnel interacting with seafarers should know at least the basics, too!
“Recommendations for standard maritime English have been adopted by the IMO.
“It is a simplified version of English including standard vocabulary for maritime communication.
“(Sampson & Zhao 2003). Despite good efforts of adopting Maritime English into the field, it was not detected in the study on board ships.
“Also the drive for cheaper crews from less developed countries can, according to Sampson & Zhao, be seen as a risk, since the assumption is that their English skills may be poorer.
“The additional training in English is well acknowledged by maritime training facilities (Horck 2010). In any case the English skills of seafarers are often very basic, and the situation in ports is similar, too (Horck 2010).
“This said, it is evident that the level of English taught in maritime education has to be more advanced and also implemented for on shore operators such as port operators.”
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