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International maritime organization imo e

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For reasons of economy, this document is printed in a limited number. Delegates are

kindly asked to bring their copies to meetings and not to request additional copies.






46th session

Agenda item 9

NAV 46/INF.4

4 April 2000

Original: ENGLISH


Note submitted by Germany


Executive summary: The document provides the working results elaborated by the group of


Action to be taken: To be noted when reconsidering the SMCP.

Related documents: NAV 45/14, NAV 46/9

1 This information document is intended to provide the working results elaborated by the

group of experts. The revised version of the SMCP is set out in the annex.

^ Action requested of the Sub-Committee

2 The Sub-Committee is invited to note the information provided and use it when

reconsidering the SMCP.


NAV 46/INF.4




As navigational and safety communications from ship to shore and vice versa, ship to ship , and

on board ships must be precise, simple and unambiguous, so as to avoid confusion and error,

there is a need to standardize the language used. This is of particular importance in the light of

the increasing number of internationally trading vessels with crews speaking many different

languages since problems of communication may cause misunderstandings leading to dangers to

the vessel, the people on board and the environment.

In 1973 the IMO Maritime Safety Committee agreed at its twenty-seventh session that, where

language difficulties arise, a common language should be used for navigational purposes and that

language should be English. In consequence the Standard Marine Navigational Vocabulary

(SMNV) was developed, adopted in 1977 and amended in 1985.

In 1992 the IMO Maritime Safety Committee at its sixtieth session instructed the IMO Sub-

Committee on Safety of Navigation to develop a more comprehensive standardized safety

language than the SMNV, 1985, taking into account the changing conditions in modern seafaring

and covering all major safety-related verbal communications.

At its sixty-eighth session in 1997 the IMO Maritime Safety Committee adopted the Draft

Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) developed by a Working and Drafting Group

of the IMO Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation chaired by Prof. Dr. Peter Trenkner,

Germany. The Draft SMCP, following international trials, was amended at the forty-sixth

session of this Sub-Committee and final consideration given at the IMO Maritime Safety

Committee at its [... ] session in the light of remarks received by the Organization. The SMCP

was adopted by the IMO Assembly in [ ... ]as resolution A.( [... ] ) .

Under the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping

for Seafarers, 1978, as revised 1995, the ability to understand and use the SMCP is required for

the certification of officers in charge of a navigational watch on ships of 500 gross tonnage or


NAV 46/INF.4


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1 Position of the SMCP in maritime practice

2 Organization of the SMCP

3 Position of the SMCP in Maritime Education and Training

4 Basic communicative features

5 Typographical conventions


1 Procedure

2 Spelling

3 Message Markers

4 Responses

5 Distress / urgency / safety signals

6 Standard organizational phrases

7 Corrections

8 Readiness

9 Repetition

10 Numbers

11 Positions

12 Bearings

13 Courses

14 Distances

15 Speed

16 Time

17 Geographical names

18 Ambiguous words


1 General terms

2 VTS special terms

NAV 46/INF.4


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^ AI/1 Distress Communications

AI/1.1 Distress traffic

.1 Fire, explosion

.2 Flooding

.3 Collision

.4 Grounding

.5 List, danger of capsizing

.6 Sinking

.7 Disabled and adrift

.8 Armed attack / piracy

.9 Undesignated distress

.10 Abandoning vessel

.11 Person overboard

AI/1.2 Search and Rescue communications

.1 SAR traffic (specifying or supplementary to AI/1.1)

.2 Acknowledgement and / or relay of SAR-messages

.3 Performing / co-ordinating SAR-operations

.4 Finishing with SAR-operations

AI/1.3 Person Overboard

AI/1.4 Requesting Medical Assistance

AI/2 Urgency traffic

Safety of a vessel (other than distress)

.1 Technical failure

.2 Cargo

.3 Ice damage

AI/3 Safety Communications

AI/3.1 Meteorological and hydrological conditions

.1 Winds, storms, tropical storms; sea state

.2 Restricted visibility

.3 Ice

.4 Abnormal tides

AI/3.2 Navigational warnings involving

.1 Land- or seamarks

.2 Drifting objects

.3 Electronic navigational aids

NAV 46/INF.4


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.4 Seabottom characteristics, wrecks

.5 Miscellaneous

.5.1 Cable, pipe and seismic / hydrographic operations

.5.2 Diving operations, tows, dredging operations

.5.3 Tanker transshipment

.5.4 Off-shore installations, rig moves

.5.5 Defective locks or bridges

.5.6 Military operations

.5.7 Fishery

AI/3.3 Environmental protection communications

AI/4 Pilotage

AI/4.1 Pilot request

AI/4.2 Embarking / disembarking pilot

AI/4.3 Tug request

AI/5 Specials

AI/5.1 Helicopter operations

AI/5.2 Ice-breaker operations

.1 Ice-breaker request

.2 Ice-breaker assistance for convoy

.3 Iice-breaker assistance in close-coupled towing

AI/6 Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Standard Phrases

AI/6.1 Phrases for acquiring and providing data for a traffic image

.1 Acquiring and providing routine traffic data

.2 Acquiring and providing distress traffic data

AI/6.2 Phrases for providing VTS services

.1 Information service

.1.1 Navigational warnings

.1.2 Navigational information

.1.3 Traffic information

.1.4 Route information

.1.5 Hydrographic information

.1.6 Electronic navigational aids information

.1.7 Meteorological warnings

.1.8 Meteorological information

.1.9 Meteorological questions and answers

.2 Navigational assistance service

.2.1 Request, identification, begin and end

.2.2 Position

.2.3 Course

.3 Traffic organization service

.3.1 Clearance, forward planning

.3.2 Anchoring

NAV 46/INF.4


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.3.3 Arrival, berthing and departure

.3.4 Enforcement

.3.5 Avoiding dangerous situations, providing safe movements

.3.6 Canal and lock operations

AI/6.3 Handing over to another VTS

AI/6.4 Phrases for communication with emergency services and allied services

.1 Emergency services (SAR, fire fighting, pollution fighting)

.2 Tug services

.3 Pilot request

.4 Embarking / disembarking pilot

Appendix to AI – External Communication Phrases

Standard GMDSS Messages

1 Standard Distress Message

.1 Structure

.2 Example

2 Standard Urgency Message

.1 Structure

.2 Example

3 Standard Safety Message

.1 Structure

.2 Example


AII/1 Standard Wheel Orders

AII/2 Standard Engine Orders

AII/3 Pilot on the Bridge

AII/3.1 Propulsion system

AII/3.2 Manoeuvring

AII/3.3 Radar

AII/3.4 Draft and air draft

AII/3.5 Anchoring

.1 Going to anchor

.2 Leaving the anchorage

AII/3.6 Tug assistance

AII/3.7 Berthing and unberthing

.1 General

.2 Berthing

.3 Unberthing

NAV 46/INF.4


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B1 Operative Shiphandling

B1/1 Handing over the watch

B1/1.1 Briefing on position, movement and draft

.1 Position

.2 Movements

.3 Draft

B1/1.2 Briefing on traffic situation in the area

B1/1.3 Briefing on navigational aids and equipment status

B1/1.4 Briefing on radiocommunications

B1/1.5 Briefing on meteorological conditions

B1/1.6 Briefing on standing orders and bridge organization

B1/1.7 Briefing on special navigational events

B1/1.8 Briefing on temperatures, pressures and soundings

B1/1.9 Briefing on operation of main engine and auxiliary equipment

B1/1.10 Briefing on pumping of fuel, ballast water, etc.

B1/1.11 Briefing on special machinery events and repairs

B1/1.12 Briefing on record keeping

B1/1.13 Handing and taking over the watch / conn

B1/2 Trim, list and stability

B2 Safety on Board

B2/1 General Activities

B2/1.1 Raising alarm

B2/1.2 Briefing crew and passengers

B2/1.3 Checking status of escape routes

B2/1.4 Checking status of lifeboats / liferafts

B2/1.5 Ordering evacuation

B2/1.6 Roll call

B2/1.7 Ordering abandon vessel

B2/1.8 In-boat procedures

B2/2 Occupational Safety

B2/2.1 Instruction

B2/2.2 Practical occupational safety

B2/2.3 Occupational accidents

B2/3 Fire Protection and Fire Fighting

NAV 46/INF.4


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B2/3.1 Fire protection

.1 Checking status of equipment

B2/3.2 Fire fighting and drills

.1 Reporting fire

.2 Reporting readiness for action

.3 Orders for fire fighting

.4 Cancellation of alarm

B2/4 Damage Control

B2/4.1 Checking equipment status and drills

B2/4.2 Damage control activities

.1 Reporting flooding

.2 Reporting readiness for action

.3 Orders for damage control

.4 Cancellation of alarm

B2/5 Grounding

B2/5.1 Reporting grounding and ordering actions

B2/5.2 Reporting damage

B2/5.3 Orders for refloating

B2/5.4 Checking seaworthiness

B2/6 Search and Rescue On-board Activities

B2/6.1 Checking equipment status

B2/6.2 Person-overboard activities

B2/6.3 Rescue operation - reporting readiness for assistance

B2/6.4 Conducting search

B2/6.5 Rescue activities

B2/6.6 Finishing with search and rescue operations

B3 Cargo and Cargo Handling

B3/1 Cargo Handling

B3/1.1 Loading and unloading

.1 Loading capacities and quantities

.2 Dockside / shipboard cargo handling gear and equipment

.3 Preparing for loading / unloading

.4 Operating cargo handling equipment and hatches

.5 Maintaining / repairing cargo handling equipment

.6 Briefing on stowing and securing

B3/1.2 Handling dangerous goods

.1 Briefing on nature of dangerous goods

.2 Instructions on compatibility and stowage

.3 Reporting incidents

.4 Action in case of incidents

NAV 46/INF.4


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B3/1.3 Handling liquid goods, bunkers and ballast - pollution prevention

.1 Preparing safety measures

.2 Operating pumping equipment

.3 Reporting and cleaning up spillage

.4 Ballast handling

.5 Tank cleaning

B3/1.4 Preparing for sea

B3/2 Cargo Care

B3/2.1 Operating shipboard equipment for cargo care

B3/2.2 Taking measures for cargo care

.1 Carrying out inspections

.2 Describing damage to the cargo

.3 Taking actions

B4 Passenger Care

B4/1 Briefing and Instruction

B4/1.1 Conduct of passengers on board

.1 General information on conduct of passengers

.2 Briefing on prohibited areas, decks and spaces

B4/1.2 Briefing on safety regulations, preventive measures and communications

.1 The general emergency alarm

.2 Preventing / reporting fire

.3 PA announcements on emergency

.4 Person overboard

.5 Protective measures for children

B4/2 Evacuation and Boat Drill

B4/2.1 Allocating / directing to assembly stations, describing how to escape

B4/2.2 Briefing on how to dress and what to take to assembly stations

B4/2.3 Performing roll call

B4/2.4 Briefing on how to put on life-jackets

B4/2.5 Instructions on how to embark and behave in lifeboats / liferafts

B4/2.6 On-scene measures and actions in lifeboats / liferafts

B4/3 Attending to Passengers in an Emergency

B4/3.1 Informing on present situation

B4/3.2 Escorting helpless passengers

NAV 46/INF.4


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1 Position of the SMCP in maritime practice

The Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) has been compiled:

- to assist in the greater safety of navigation and of the conduct of the ship,

- to standardize the language used in communication for navigation at sea, in port-approaches,

in waterways, harbours and on board vessels with multilingual crews, and

- to assist maritime training institutions in meeting the objectives mentioned above.

These phrases are not intended to supplant or contradict the International Regulations for Preventing

Collisions at Sea, 1972 or special local rules or recommendations made by IMO concerning ships'

routeing, neither are they intended to supersede the International Code of Signals, and when applied

in ship’s external communication this has to be done in strict compliance with the relevant

radiotelephone procedures as set out in the ITU Regulations. Furthermore, the SMCP, as a collection

of individual phrases, should not be regarded as any kind of technical manual providing operational


The SMCP meets the requirements of the STCW Convention, 1978, as revised, and of the SOLAS

Convention, 1974, as revised, regarding verbal communications; moreover, the phrases cover the

relevant communication safety aspects laid down in these Conventions.

Use of the SMCP should be made as often as possible in preference to other wording of similar

meaning; as a minimum requirement users should adhere as closely as possible to their wording in

relevant situations. In this way they are intended to become an acceptable safety language, using

English for the verbal interchange of intelligence among individuals of all maritime nations on the

many and varied occasions when precise meanings and translations are in doubt, increasingly evident

under modern conditions at sea.

The accompanying CD/Casette is designed to familarize users with the pronunciation of the phrases.

^ 2 Organization of the SMCP

The SMCP is divided into External Communication Phrases and On-board Communication Phrases

as far as its application is concerned, and into PART A and PART B as to its status within the

framework of the STCW, 1978, as revised.

PART A, as the mandatory section, covers phrases to be applied in external communications and may

thus be regarded as the replacement of the Standard Marine Navigational Vocabulary, 1985, which is

requested to be used and understood by the STCW Code, 1995, Table A-II/I. This mandatory part

was enriched by essential phrases concerning shiphandling and safety of navigation to be used in onboard

communications, particularly when the Pilot is on the bridge, as required by Regulation 14(4),

Chapter V, SOLAS 1974, as revised.

PART B, as a guidance section, calls attention to other on-board standard safety-related phrases

which, supplementary to PART A, may also be regarded useful for Maritime English instruction.

NAV 46/INF.4


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^ 3 Position of the SMCP in Maritime Education and Training

The SMCP is not intended to generate a comprehensive Maritime English syllabus. However, PART A in

particular, should be an indispensable part of any curriculum which is designed to meet the corresponding

requirements of the STCW Convention, 1978, as revised. In addition, PART B offers a rich choice of

situations covered by phrases well suited to meet the communication requirements of the STCW

Convention, 1978, as revised, which are implicitly expected to be satisfied by mariners.

The SMCP should be taught and learnt selectively, according to the users` specific needs rather than

completely. The respective instruction should be based on practice in the maritime environment and be

implemented through appropriate modern language teaching methods.

^ 4 Basic communicative features

The SMCP builds on a basic knowledge of the English language. It was drafted on purpose in a

simplified version of Maritime English to reduce grammatical, lexical and idiomatic varieties to

a tolerable minimum, using standardized structures for the sake of its function aspects, i.e.

diminishing misunderstanding in safety related verbal communications, thereby endeavouring to

reflect present Maritime English language usage on board vessels and in ship-to-shore/ship-toship


This means,in phrases offered for use in emergency and other situations developing under

considerable pressure of time or psychological stress as wells as in navigational warnings, a

block language was applied which sparingly uses, or frequently omits, the function words the,

a/an, is/are as done in seafaring practice. Users, however, may be flexible in this respect.

Further communicative features may be summarized as follows:

- avoiding synonyms

- avoiding contracted forms

- providing fully worded answers to "yes/no"-questions and basic alternative answers to

sentence questions

- providing one phrase for one event, and

- structuring the corresponding phrases after the principle: identical invariable plus variable.

5 Typographical conventions

( ) brackets indicate that the part of the message enclosed within the brackets may be

added where relevant;

/ oblique strokes indicates that the items on either side of the stroke are alternatives;

... dots indicate that the relevant information is to be filled in where the dots occur;

(italic letters) indicate the kind of information requested;

~ tildes stand for the invariable part of an aforementioned standard phrase which is

followed by a variable addendum.

NAV 46/INF.4


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1 Procedure

When it is necessary to indicate that the SMCP are to be used, the following message may be


"Please use Standard Marine Communication Phrases."

"I will use Standard Marine Communication Phrases."

2 Spelling

2.1 Spelling of letters

When spelling is necessary, only the following spelling table should be used:

^ Letter Code Letter Code

A Alfa N November

B Bravo O Oscar

C Charlie P Papa

D Delta Q Quebec

E Echo R Romeo

F Foxtrot S Sierra

G Golf T Tango

H Hotel U Uniform

I India V Victor

J Juliet W Whisky

K Kilo X X-ray

L Lima Y Yankee

M Mike Z Zulu

2.2 Spelling of digits and numbers

A few digits and numbers have a modified pronunciation compared to general English:

Number Spelling Pronunciation

0 zero ZEERO

1 one WUN

2 two TOO

3 three ^ TREE

4 four FOWER

5 five FIFE

6 six SIX

7 seven SEVEN

8 eight AIT

9 nine NINER

1000 thousand TOUSAND

NAV 46/INF.4


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^ 3 Message Markers

In shore-to-ship and ship-to-shore communication or radio communication in general, the

following eight Message Markers may be used ( also see "Application of Message Markers"

given in PART AI/6 "Vessel Traffic Service (VTS) Standard Phrases" ):

(i) Instruction

(ii) Advice

(iii) Warning

(iv) Information

(v) Question

(vi) Answer

(vii) Request

(viii) Intention

4 Responses

4.1 When the answer to a question is in the affirmative, say:

"Yes, .... " - followed by the appropriate phrase in full.

4.2 When the answer to a question is in the negative, say:

"No, ..." - followed by the appropriate phrase in full.

4.3 When the information requested is not immediately available, say:

"Stand by" - followed by the time interval within which the information will be


4.4 When the information requested cannot be obtained, say:

"No information."

4.5 When an INSTRUCTION (e.g. by a VTS-Station, Naval vessel or other fully authorized

personnel ) or an ADVICE is given, respond if in the affirmative:

"I will/can ... " - followed by the instruction or advice in full; and,

if in the negative, respond:

"I will not/cannot ... " - followed by the instruction or advice in full.

Example: "ADVICE. Do not overtake the vessel ahead of you."

Respond: "I will not overtake the vessel ahead of me."

4.6 Responses to orders and answers to questions of special importance both in external and onboard

communication are given in wording in the phrases concerned.

5 Distress, urgency and safety signals

5.1 MAYDAY to be used to announce a distress message

5.2 PAN - PAN to be used to announce an urgency message

5.3 SÈCURITÈ to be used to announce a safety message

NAV 46/INF.4


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6 Standard organizational phrases (see also section 4 of "SEASPEAK Reference Manual")

6.1 "How do you read (me)?"

6.1.1 "I read you ...

bad/one with signal strength one (i.e. barely perceptible)

poor/two with signal strength two (i.e. weak)

fair/three with signal strength three (i.e. fairly good)

good/four with signal strength four (i.e. good)

excellent/five with signal strength five (i.e. very good)

6.2 When it is advisable to remain on a VHF Channel / frequency say:

"Stand by on VHF Channel ... / frequency ... "

6.2.1 When it is accepted to remain on the VHF channel / frequency indicated, say:

"Standing by on VHF Channel ... / frequency ... "

6.3 When it is advisable to change to another VHF Channel / frequency, say:

"Advise (you) change to VHF Channel ... / frequency ... ."

"Advise(you) try VHF Channel .. / frequency... ."

6.3.1 When the changing of a VHF Channel / frequency is accepted, say:

"Changing to VHF Channel ... / frequency ... ."

7 Corrections

When a mistake is made in a message, say:

"Mistake ..." - followed by the word:

"Correction ... " plus the corrected part of the message.

Example: "My present speed is 14 knots - mistake.

Correction, my present speed is 12, one-two, knots."

8 Readiness

"I am / I am not ready to receive your message".

9 Repetition

9.1 If any part of the message are considered sufficiently important to need safeguarding, say:

"Repeat ... " - followed by the corresponding part of the message.

Example: "My draft is 12.6 repeat one-two decimal 6 metres."

"Do not overtake - repeat - do not overtake."

9.2 When a message is not properly heard, say:

"Say again (please)."

NAV 46/INF.4


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10 Numbers

Numbers are to be spoken in separate digits:

"One-five-zero" for 150

"Two decimal five" or

Two point fivefor 2.5

Note: Attention! When rudder angles e.g. in wheel orders are given, say:

"Fifteen" for 15 or

"Twenty" for 20 etc..

11 Positions

11.1 When latitude and longitude are used, these shall be expressed in degrees and minutes (and

decimals of a minute if necessary), north or south of the Equator and east or west of


Example: "WARNING. Dangerous wreck in position 15 degrees 34 minutes north

061 degrees 29 minutes west."

11.2 When the position is related to a mark, the mark shall be a well-defined charted object. The

bearing shall be in the 360 degrees notation from true north and shall be that of the position

FROM the mark.

Example: "Your position bearing 137 degrees from Big Head lighthouse

distance 2.4 nautical miles."

12 Bearings

The bearing of the mark or vessel concerned, is the bearing in the 360 degree notation

from north (true north unless otherwise stated), except in the case of relative bearings.

Bearings may be either FROM the mark or FROM the vessel.

Examples: "Pilot boat is bearing 215 degrees from you."

Note: Vessels reporting their position should always quote their bearing FROM the

mark, as described in paragraph 11.2 of this section.

12.1 Relative bearings

Relative bearings can be expressed in degrees relative to the vessel's head or bow. More

frequently this is in relation to the port or starboard bow.

Example: "Buoy 030 degrees on your port bow."

(Relative D/F bearings are more commonly expressed in the 360 degree


13 Courses

Always to be expressed in 360 degree notation from north (true north unless otherwise

stated). Whether this is to TO or FROM a mark can be stated.

NAV 46/INF.4


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14 Distances

Preferably to be expressed in nautical miles or cables (tenths of a mile) otherwise in

kilometres or metres, the unit always to be stated.

15 Speed

To be expressed in knots:

15.1 without further notation meaning speed through the water; or, "ground speed" meaning speed over the ground.

16 Times

Times should be expressed in the 24 hour UTC notation; if local time will be used in ports or

harbours it should clearly be stated.

17 Geographical names

Place names used should be those on the chart or in Sailing Directions in use.

Should these not be understood, latitude and longitude should be given.

^ 18 Ambiguous words

Some words in English have meanings depending on the context in which they appear.

Misunderstandings frequently occur, especially in VTS communications, and have

produced accidents. Such words are:

18.1 The Conditionals "May", "Might", "Should" and "Could".


Do not say: "May I enter the fairway?"

Say: "QUESTION. Do I have permission to enter the fairway?"

Do not say: "You may enter the fairway."

Say: "ANSWER. You have permission to enter the fairway."


Do not say: "I might enter the fairway."

Say: "INTENTION. I will enter the fairway."


Do not say: "You should anchor in anchorage B 3."

Say: "ADVICE. Anchor in anchorage B 3."


Do not say: "You could be running into danger."

Say: "WARNING. You are running into danger."

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18.2 The word "Can"

The word "Can" either describes the possibility or the capability of doing something. In the

SMCP the situations where phrases using the word "Can" appear make it clear whether a

possibility is referred to. In an ambiguous context, however, say, for example:

"QUESTION. Do I have permission to use the shallow draft fairway at this time?",

do not say: "Can I use the shallow draft fairway at this time?", if you ask for a permission.

(The same applies to the word "May")

^ Note: In all cases the radiotelephone procedures as set out in the ITU - Radio Regulations have to

be observed.

NAV 46/INF.4


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The GLOSSARY also includes a limited number of technical terms which do not appear in the text of

the SMCP but might be useful in case the content of a given standard Phrase requires modification.

^ 1 General terms

Abandon vessel To evacuate crew and passengers from a vessel following a distress

Accommodation ladder Ladder attached to platform at vessel's side with flat steps and handrails

enabling persons to embark / disembark from water or shore

Adrift Floating, not controlled, without a clearly determinable direction

Air draft The height from the waterline to the highest point of the vessel

Assembly station Place on deck, in mess rooms, etc., assigned to crew and passengers

where they have to meet according to the muster list when the

corresponding alarm is released or announcement made

Backing (of wind) When a wind blows round anticlockwise (opposite of veering)

Beach (to) To run a vessel up on a beach to prevent its sinking in deep water

Berth 1: A sea room to be kept for safety around a vessel, rock, platform, etc..

2: The place assigned to a vessel when anchored or lying alongside a pier, etc.

Blast A sound signal made with the whistle of the vessel

Blind sectors Areas which cannot be scanned by the radar of the vessel because they are

shielded by parts of its superstructure, masts, etc.

Boarding arrangements All equipment, such as pilot ladder, accommodation ladder, hoist, etc.,

necessary for a safe transfer of the pilot

Boarding speed The speed of a vessel adjusted to that of a pilot boat at which the pilot can

safely embark / disembark

Bob-cat A mini-caterpillar with push-blade used for the careful distribution of

loose goods in cargo holds of bulk carriers

Briefing Concise explanatory information to crew and/or passengers

Cable 1: Chain, wire or rope connecting a vessel to her anchor(s)

2: (measurement) 608 feet, i.e. one tenth of a nautical mile

Capsizing Turning of a vessel upside down while on water

Cardinal buoy A seamark, i.e. a buoy, indicating the North, East, South or West, i.e. the

cardinal points from a fixed point, e.g. a wreck

NAV 46/INF.4


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Cardinal points The four main points of the compass, i.e. North, East, South and West; for

the purpose of the SMCP the intercardinal points, i.e. Northeast,

Southeast, etc., are also included

Casualty here: Case of death in an accident or shipping disaster

Check (to) 1: To make sure that equipment etc. is in proper condition or that

everything is correct and safe

2: To regulate motion of a cable, rope or wire when it is running out too


Close-coupled towing A method of towing vessels through polar ice by means of icebreaking

tugs with a special stern notch suited to receive and hold the bow of the

vessel to be towed

Close up (to) To decrease the distance to the vessel ahead by increasing one`s own


Compatibility(of goods) states whether different goods can be stowed together in one hold

Conn Exercising the navigation of the vessel by her Master being on the bridge

thus relieving the officer of the watch from certain navigational tasks

Convoy A group of vessels which sail together, e.g. through a canal or ice

Course The intended direction of movement of a vessel through the water

Course made good That course which a vessel makes good over ground, after allowing for

the effect of currents, tidal streams, and leeway caused by wind and sea

COW Crude Oil Washing: A system of cleaning the tanks by washing them with

the cargo of crude oil while it is being discharged

CPA/TCPA Closest Point of Approach /Time to Closest Point of Approach limit as

defined by the observer to give warning when a tracked target or targets

will close to within these limits

Crash-stop An emergency reversal operation of the main engine(s) to avoid a


Damage control team A group of crew members trained for fighting flooding in the vessel

Datum The most probable position of a search target at a given time

Derelict Goods or any other commodity, specifically a vessel abandoned at sea

Destination Port which a vessel is bound for

Disabled A vessel damaged or impaired in such a manner as to be incapable of

proceeding on its voyage

Disembark (to) To go from a vessel

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Distress alert (GMDSS) A radio signal from a distressed vessel automatically directed to an

MRCC giving position, identification, course and speed of the vessel as

well as the nature of distress

Distress/ here: The verbal exchange of information on radio from ship to shore

Urgency traffic and/or ship to ship/ air craft about a distress / urgency situation as defined

in the relevant ITU Radio Regulations

Draft The depth of water which a vessel draws

Dragging (of anchor) Moving of an anchor over the sea bottom involuntarily because it is no

longer preventing the movement of the vessel

Dredging (of anchor) Moving of an anchor over the sea bottom to control the movement of the


Drifting Floating, caused by winds and current with a determinable direction

Drop back (to) To increase the distance to the vessel ahead by reducing one's own speed

DSC Digital Selective Calling (in the GMDSS system)

Embark (to) To go aboard a vessel

EPIRB Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon

Escape route A clearly marked way in the vessel which has to be followed in case of an


Escort Attending a vessel, to be available in case of need, e.g. ice-breaker, tug, etc..

ETA Estimated Time of Arrival

ETD Estimated Time of Departure

Fire patrol A crew member of the watch going around the vessel at certain intervals

so that an outbreak of fire may be promptly detected; mandatory in

vessels carrying more than 36 passengers

Flooding Major flow of seawater into the vessel

Foam monitor A powerful foam fire extinguisher standing by aboard tankers loading or

discharging oil

Foul (of anchor) Anchor has its own cable twisted around it or has fouled an obstruction

Foul (of propeller) A line, wire, net, etc., is wound round the propeller

Full speed Highest possible speed of a vessel

Fume Often harmful gas produced by fires, chemicals, fuel, etc.

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General emergency alarm A sound signal of seven short blasts and one prolonged blast given with

the vessel´s sound system

GMDSS Global Maritime Distress and Safety System

(D) GPS (Differential)Global (satellite) Positioning System

Hampered vessel A vessel restricted by her ability to manoeuvre by the nature of her work

or her deep draft

Hatchrails Ropes supported by stanchions around an open hatch to prevent persons

from falling into a hold

Heading The horizontal direction the vessel's bows at a given moment measured in

degrees clockwise from north

Hoist here: A cable used by helicopters for lifting or lowering persons in a pickup


Icing Coating of ice on an object, e.g. the mast or superstructure of a vessel

IMO-Class Group of dangerous or hazardous goods, harmful substances or marine

pollutants in sea transport as classified in the International Maritime

Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code)

Inert (to) To replace the oxygen in an oil tank by inert gas to avoid an explosive


Initial course Course directed by the OSC or other authorized person to be steered at the

beginning of a search

Inoperative Not functioning

Jettison (to) (of cargo) Throwing overboard of goods in order to lighten the vessel or improve its

stability in case of an emergency

Launch (to) To lower, e.g. lifeboats to the water

Leaking Escape of liquids such as water, oil, etc., out of pipes, boilers, tanks, etc.,

or a minor inflow of seawater into the vessel due to damage to the hull

Leeward The general direction to which the wind blows; opposite of windward

Leeway The angular effect on the vessel's course caused by the prevailing wind

Let go (to) To set free, let loose, or cast off (of anchors, lines, etc.)

Lifeboat station Place assigned to crew and passengers where they must gather before

being ordered into the lifeboats

List here: Inclination of the vessel to port side or starboard side

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Located In navigational warnings: Position of object confirmed

Make water (to) Seawater flowing into the vessel due to hull damage, or hatches awash

and not properly closed

MMSI Maritime Mobile Service Identity number

Moor (to) To secure a vessel in a particular place by means of chains or ropes made

fast to the shore, to anchors, or to anchored mooring buoys, or to ride with

both anchors down

MRCC Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre: Land-based authority responsible

for promoting efficient organization of maritime search and rescue and for

co-ordinating the conduct of search and rescue operations within a search

and rescue region

Muster (to) To assemble crew, passengers or both in a special place for purposes of


Muster list List of crew, passengers and all on board and their functions in a distress or drill

Not under command (abbr. NUC) A vessel which through exceptional circumstances is unable

to manoeuvre as required by the COLREGs

Obstruction An object such as a wreck, net, etc., which blocks a fairway, route, etc.

Off air When the transmissions of a radio station etc., have broken down,

switched off or suspended

Off station (of buoys) Not in charted position

Oil clearance Oil skimming from the surface of the water

Operational Ready for immediate use

Ordnance exercise Naval firing practice

OSC On-Scene Co-ordinator: A person designed to co-ordinate search and

rescue operations within a specified area

Overflow Accidental escape of oil from a tank which is full because pumping was

not stopped in time

Polluter A vessel emitting harmful substances into the air or spilling oil into the sea

Preventers Ropes or wires attached to derricks to prevent them from swinging

during cargo handling operations

Proceed (to) To sail or head for a certain position or to continue with the voyage

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PA-system Public address system: Loudspeakers in the vessel's cabins, mess rooms,

etc., and on deck through which important information can be broadcast

from a central point, mostly from the navigation bridge

Recover (to) Here: To pick up shipwrecked persons

Refloat (to) To pull a vessel off after grounding; to set afloat again

Rendez-vous An appointment between vessels normally made on radio to meet in a

certain area or position

Reported in navigational warnings: Position of object unconfirmed

Restricted area A deck, space, area, etc., in vessels, where for safety reasons, entry is only

permitted for authorized crew members

Resume (to) here: To re-start a voyage, service or search

Retreat signal Sound, visual or other signal to a team ordering it to return to its base

Rig move The movement of an oil rig, drilling platform, etc., from one position to


Roll call The act of checking who of the passengers and crew members are present,

e.g. at assembly stations, by reading aloud a list of their names

Safe speed That speed of a vessel allowing the maximum possible time for effective

action to be taken to avoid a collision and to be stopped within an

appropriate distance

Safety load The maximum permissible load of a deck, etc.

Safe working pressure The maximum permissible pressure in cargo hoses

SAR Search and Rescue

Scene The area or location where the event, e.g. an accident has happened

Search pattern A pattern according to which vessels and/or aircraft may conduct a

co-ordinated search (the IMOSAR offers seven search patterns)

Search speed The speed of searching vessels directed by the OSC

Segregation(of goods) Separation of goods which for different reasons must not be stowed


Shifting cargo Transverse movement of cargo, especially bulk, caused by rolling or a

heavy list

Slings Ropes, nets, and any other means for handling general cargoes

Speed of advance The speed at which a storm centre moves

NAV 46/INF.4


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Spill (to) To accidentally escape, e.g. oil, etc., from a vessel, container, etc., into the


Spill control gear Special equipment for fighting accidental oil spills at early stages

Spreader here: Step of a pilot ladder which prevents the ladder from twisting

Stand by (to) To be in readiness or prepared to execute an order; to be readily available

Stand clear (to) here: To keep a boat away from the vessel

Standing orders Orders of the Master to the officer of the watch which s/he must comply with

Stand on (to) To maintain course and speed

Station The allotted place or the duties of each person on board

Stripping Pumping out of tanks the remaining cargo, water, etc.

Survivor A person who continues to live in spite of being in an extremely

dangerous situation, e.g. a shipping disaster.

Take off (to) A helicopter lifts off from a vessel's deck

Target The echo generated e.g. by a vessel on a radar screen

Tension winch A winch which applies tension to mooring lines to keep them tight

TEU Twenty Foot Equivalent Unit (standard container dimension)

Track The path followed, or to be followed, between one position and another

Transit here: The passage of a vessel through a canal, fairway, etc.

Transit speed Speed of a vessel required for the passage through a canal, fairway, etc.

Transshipment (of cargo) here: The transfer of goods from one vessel to another outside harbours

Underway A vessel which is not at anchor, or made fast to the shore, or aground

Union purchase A common method of cargo handling by combining two derricks, one of

which is fixed over the quay, the other over the hatchway

Unlit When the light characteristics of a buoy or a lighthouse are inoperative

UTC Universal Time Co-ordinated (ex GMT)

Variable (of winds) When a wind is permanently changing the direction from which it blows

Veering (of winds) When a wind blows round clockwise; opposite of backing

NAV 46/INF.4


Page 24


Veer out (to)(of anchors) To let out a greater length of cable

VHF Very High Frequency (30 - 300 MHz)

Walk out (to) (of anchors) To reverse the action of a windlass so as to ease the cable

Windward The general direction from which the wind blows; opposite of leeward

Wreck A vessel which has been destroyed or sunk or abandoned at sea

^ 2 VTS special terms

Fairway Navigable part of a waterway

Fairway speed Mandatory speed in a fairway

ITZ Inshore Traffic Zone (of a TSS): A routing measure comprising a

designated area between the landward boundary of a TSS and the adjacent


Manoeuvring speed A vessel´s reduced rate of speed in restricted waters such as fairways or


Receiving point A mark or place at which a vessel comes under obligatory entry, transit, or

escort procedure

Reference line A fictive line displayed on the radar screens in VTS Centres and/or

electronic sea-charts separating the fairway for inbound and outbound

vessels so that they can safely pass each other

Reporting point (see Way point)

Separation zone / line A zone or line separating the traffic lanes in which vessels are proceeding

in opposite or nearly opposite directions; or separating a traffic lane from

the adjacent sea area; or separating traffic lanes designated for particular

classes of vessels proceeding in the same direction

Traffic clearance VTS authorization for a vessel to proceed under conditions specified

Traffic lane An area within defined limits in which one-way traffic is established

TSS Traffic Separation Scheme: A routing measure aimed at the separation of

opposing streams of traffic by appropriate means and by the establishment

of traffic lanes

Way point A mark or position at which a vessel is required to report to the local

VTS-Station to establish its position

VTS Vessel Traffic Services: Services, designed to improve safety and

efficiency of vessel traffic and to protect the environment

VTS-area Area controlled by a VTS-Centre or VTS-Station

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