What Merchant Mariners See In You


Here is the one I was looking for, but I didn’t find the actual cartoon:


Example of philosophical reasoning terminating in a logical conclusion:


Britain and America are two countries divided by a common language. (Bernard Shaw)


North London? Nothing special there. You mean northern England?


And that’s not even counting Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Though even those countries have varying regional dialects within them. Some more decipherable to foreigners, some not.


So what do you propose? That all mariners the world over be mandated to speak in a taught dialect? Transatlantic English perhaps? The problem is often nonnative English speakers not being well versed enough in English, and not having a wide ranging enough vocabulary. The vocabulary doesn’t need to be standardized any further. It already is, all one needs is a dictionary. I’m all for world wide maritime schools/academies to have better English instruction and requirements for proficiency.


That we be sure to teach all foreigners the CORRECT use of the word “kindly”.


And for US mariners to beware of any communication that begins with the words "My friend, my friend…


Mayday mayday! We are sinking!

Ya, und vot are you sinking about?


He did say North OF London!!
Just try understanding two people from Lincolnshire talking to each other:

Here is a sample of other dialects around the British Isles:

And what is the difference between standard or British English vs. American English?
Of course there are a Youtube video about that too:


We have found that there are already a requirement to speak in Standard Maritime English (SMCP) when communicating between ships, of ship to shore. This is also being taught in Maritime Schools around the world.
If everybody used this it would be fine, but I think it has been established here that that is not always the case.
Hence I started a thread asking for special terms and phrases used by US Mariners to add to the understanding by foreign mariners when they come across them. (It appears that not all Americans understand the GoM lingo either)

A dictionary only helps to translate words, not necessarily meanings when used out of context.
Besides, having to look up words in a dictionary is not very practical in a tight situation.


Just wait until voice recognition features start getting built into ECDIS units… then we are in for some real trouble :wink:


Can we get USCG to require this course for all OSV and limited licenses too?


It could be difficult even for Americans to get anywhere with an ECDIS made in Norway, programed in Norwegian accented English. Even worse, people from different places along the long Norwegian coast:

What was missing in that clip was the way English is spoken here in Sunnmore, where a lot of the Maritime technology is developed. Here is an example:

A few famous Norwegians are also know for their rather heavily accented English.
Here is very famous one, Thor Heyerdahl:

Kongsberg would be a variety of the last two samples.


It is already required for an STCW endorsement as OICNW.


So now the only thing missing is that everybody actually use it in real life??


This is one of the weakest links. Seafarers should undergo a TOEFL or an IELTS that will test their ability to comprehend, speak and understand English.
Even if one knows English well, there is should be another test on Maritime phrases. A simple request such as, " Please alter course to stbd and pass astern of me" can be butchered in a thousand ways with unitended results.


I can assure you that its not only the non English speakers who would find “Meet you on one whistle” confusing, its the English Scottish & Welsh as well. I would stick with red to red (after all port & starboard might confuse the Americans :wink: )


I see that the thread has deteriorated into how to speak maritime english! It is only a part of the problem. I have worked both sides as a Navy nav/CIC/XO/CO doing bridge watches and as 1st off/master in the merchant marine. Differences come in mainly three areas, bridge organization (autonomy of the OOW), time spent as autonomous OOW and lingo. It is a culture thing. As a navy officer we used navy jargon, it was seeping into every VHF conversation we had with merchant and military traffic. Things that were crystal clear on the navy end was gibberish for a merchantman. Correctly so, navies must and have adopted the SCMP, no license without it. The two most important differences however is what I would like to call the autonomy of the OOW and exposure as such. In most NATO navies the bridge crew is greatly reduced now, almost comparable to the merchant side. Typical bridge team composition during transit is: OOW, 1 lookout, one comms operator (mil comms), and helmsman if required. OOW operates VHF ship to ship him/herself. Training as an OOW starts immediatly after Naval college, and depending on ship type, most OOW’s are doing unsupervised bridge watches after a year. They are from the deck branch and will only do bridge/CIC work at sea untill they are qualified for command. This amounts to at least 6-8 years as unsupervised OOW in all types of waters and traffic patterns before they get a shot at the skippes seat. The CO normaly comes to the bridge in very congested or narrow waters or on harbor approaches, and he/she rarely intervenes because the duty is to produce his/her successor and instill mastery in his juniors! The smaller navies survive because the CO’s must transfer their knowledge and skills to the juniors, the training of new OOW reigns almost supreme. You can’t fight a war if don’t know how to get there! Warfare skills are piled on top, OOW duties form the basis/platform. USN is an outlier in this, have a very different system for producing XO’s/CO’s and do not emphasize bridge time as much. USN typically employs bigger bridge teams with more lookouts, junior operators, assistant OOW, OOW and the CO seems to be shacked up on the bridge 24/7 when there are other vessels in the area. This leads to a very defined chain of command with a lot of players and a lot of info and operational noise. Only a truly drilled bridge team will be able to respond quickly to emerging situations. Furthermore USN deck officers are generalists, ie they are not specialists in any type (apart from aviators I think)). They spend 4 years at college majoring in something other than nautical/navigational studies. And their first exposure as unsupervised OOW comes late, perhaps as late as XO of a large warship, The are therefore inexperienced in handling complex traffic situations on the fly and by themselves, hence a reliance on rules/regs and protocol when stuff gets difficult. Before they take command they must do a stint as chief engineer, often on another class of vessels before they get to drive their own boat. This does not prepare them for transits in the Malakka straits or the English channel! So my take on it is as following, the USN (and other navies) must concentrate on creating a corps of junior navigators that do have exposure to dense traffic situations/demanding fairways and VTS systems, and that they are trained to do so unsupervised. This will lead to XO’s .and CO’s that have confidence in letting their juniors run the show and only intervene when absolutely nescessary.

As for the merchant marine, their whole career is based upon unsupervised OOW duties. They may not have any other skills apart from OOW duties and loading/offloading and trim/stability calculations, but they execute these diciplines with the mastery that comes from many years of exposure.


From what the US Navy people here have said, the XO doesn’t stand a bridge watch.