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Posted: September 6th, 2023

Maritime English: The Language of the Seas

Maritime English: The Language of the Seas

The maritime industry is one of the oldest and most important industries in the world, and it relies heavily on communication to ensure the safety and efficiency of its operations. Maritime English is the language that connects seafarers from different parts of the world and facilitates communication between them. As an expert in the maritime industry, I will delve into the importance of Maritime English, its features, and its impact on the industry.

The Importance of Maritime English

Maritime English is the lingua franca of the maritime industry, and it plays a critical role in ensuring the safety and efficiency of maritime operations. It is a specialized form of English that is used by seafarers to communicate with each other and with shore-based personnel. It is also the language used in maritime documents, such as navigation charts, ship logs, and safety manuals.

One of the key reasons why Maritime English is so important is because of the diversity of the seafaring community. Seafarers come from different parts of the world, and they speak different languages. Maritime English provides a common language that they can all use to communicate with each other. This is crucial for ensuring the safe and efficient operation of vessels.

Features of Maritime English

Maritime English is a specialized form of English that has its own unique features. One of the key features of Maritime English is its use of technical terms and jargon. This includes terms such as “port”, “starboard”, “bulkhead”, and “helm”. These terms are used to describe different parts of a ship and its operation.

Another feature of Maritime English is its use of abbreviations and acronyms. These are commonly used in communication between seafarers and shore-based personnel, as they provide a quick and efficient way of conveying information. For example, “ETA” stands for “Estimated Time of Arrival”, and “MMSI” stands for “Maritime Mobile Service Identity”.

The Impact of Maritime English on the Industry

The use of Maritime English has a significant impact on the safety and efficiency of the maritime industry. By providing a common language for seafarers to communicate with each other, it helps to reduce the risk of accidents and other safety incidents. It also helps to ensure that vessels are operated efficiently, which can lead to cost savings for shipping companies.

In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the importance of Maritime English. This has led to increased training and certification programs for seafarers, as well as the development of standardized tests to assess their proficiency in the language. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has also developed guidelines for the use of Maritime English, which have been adopted by many countries and shipping companies around the world.


International Maritime Organization (IMO). (2018). International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW). Retrieved from,-Certification-and-Watchkeeping-for-Seafarers-(STCW).aspx

International Maritime Organization (IMO). (2018). Guidelines for the Use of English as a Second Language (ESL) in the Training of Seafarers. Retrieved from

He, D., & Liang, X. (2018). A Review of Maritime English Research: Progress and Prospects. Maritime Policy & Management, 45(5), 590-603. doi

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