The one who sends a DSC call can suggest a working channel for continued voice radio
NOTE: When a vessel is calling a coast station it does not suggest a working channel. The coast
station announces which radio channel to continue on.

A Russian yacht Marlene is approaching the Finnish coast on its way to spend a holiday partly in
Helsinki and partly by sailing in the Finnish archipelago. According to European union laws a
foreign pleasure boat must report for passport control when she has entered the territorial waters
of one of the member states. The Marlene is a luxury yacht and is linked to GMDSS and has DSC.
It is 12.30 at Suomenlinna Coast Guard Station on a fine summer day.
The DSC at Suomenlinna starts signalling and shows the following message:
Party ID: 002300005
Category ROUTINE
Work channel NONE
Transmitted CH 70
NOTE: Marlene does not suggest a working channel. In communication between ship and coast
station, it is always the coast station that determines the choice of working channel.
SELECTIVE directed to a specific station only
PARTY ID 002300005 the MMSI number of Suomenlinna Coast Guard Station

The Coast Guard station sends the following acknowledgement:
Party ID: 273678951
Category: ROUTINE
Work Channel: 74
Transmitted: Ch 70
Party ID 273678951 = the MMSI number of Marlene
Format SELECTIVE = directed towards one station
The Coast Guard Station suggests:
Work channel 74
After this Marlene CONTINUES BY VOICE COMMUNICATION on channel 74:
Calling Finnish Coast Guard Suomenlinna, Finnish Coast Guard Suomenlinna,
This is Russian vessel Marlene, JAAA,
Russian vessel Marlene JAAA,
On VHF channel 74.
Russian Vessel Marlene JAAA,
This is Finnish Coast Guard Station
Finnish Coast Guard station,
This is Russian yacht Marlene,
My position is: Latitude: 59° 56.9´ N Longitude : 024° 56.3´ E
I am in the approach channel passing Helsinki Lighthouse. I am proceeding to the Coast Guard
Station for passport control. REQUEST: Please give instructions to reach Suomenlinna Coast
Guard Station. Over.
This is Finnish Coast Guard.
INSTRUCTIONS: Proceed along the fairway. Pass
Harmaja Lighthouse and proceed along the fairway
distance 1.6 miles. Take fairway depth 9.6, course 328°.
Proceed distance 0.8 miles. You can see the information
on your starboard side.
I repeat: Proceed along the fairway. Pass Harmaja
Lighthouse and proceed along the fairway distance 1.6
miles. Take fairway depth 9.6, course 328°. Proceed
distance 0.8 miles. You can see the information on your
starboard side. Over.
Finnish Coast Guard ,
This is Marlene.

UNDERSTOOD. I will proceed along the fairway and pass Harmaja Lighthouse. I will take fairway
depth 9.6, steering course 328°. I will proceed along the fairway distance 0.8 miles ahead. I can
see information sign on starboard side. THANK YOU AND OUT.

The GMDSS enables Maritime Rescue Centres and radio stations to keep automatic watch on the
distress channels. A ship equipped with a DSC apparatus can make a distress call by simply
pressing a button, which results in an automatic alarm signal at the maritime rescue centre nearest
to the vessel.
DSC can be used for all kinds of radio calls between ship-ship and ship-shore–ship. DSC calls are
made on channel 70, which means that any voice communication on this channel is not allowed.
The DSC call includes and shows the following information:
- Format or Type of Call
- Receiver or Party ID
- Call Category or Priority
- Telecommand
(follow-up radio communication)
- Working Channel
One of the following are chosen on the DSC apparatus:
- distress alert / distress call in a distress
- all ships a call to all stations
- selective/individual a call to one station
(e.g. in routine calls)
- group a group of stations
- area / geographical call to stations in a
particular area

The receiver of the call (Party ID) you can click either the Maritime Mobile Service Identity (MMSI)
number of the recediving station, a group call number or area call number. The MMSI always
contains nine digits.
Example of MMSI Number system:
MMSI Vessel Explanation
230252000 230 country code (Finland)
always three digits
252000 (ship’s number)
MMSI Coast Station Explanation
002301000 00 means coast station in general
230 country code (Finland)
number of particular coast station
1000 (Turku Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre)

- distress
- urgency
- safety
Routine Communication can be of two kinds:
- routine
- ship’s business

This gives information on what kind of follow-up radio communication the sender wishes to have. It
also gives information on what kind of message the sender is giving. The most common
telecommand choices include:
- telephony G3E/F3E simplex
o voice communication on VHF
- distress acknowledgement
o request for acknowledgement of distress call
- distress relay alert
o request for relay of distress
- ship’s position
o request for a vessel’s position to be shown on DSC (routine call)

In ordinary English we use expressions like:
The fairway is 23 metres deep. The mast is 9 metres high.
In radio communication we use the following expressions:
First a noun denoting quantity or unit of measurement and after that the numbers.
For example:
Depth Fairway depth is: 6m. (six metres)
Distance Distance to scene of accident is 120 [one-two-zero] miles. (120 nautical miles)
Draught My draught forward is: 7.2 [seven decimal two] metres.
Height Height of seas in the area is three metres… (3m)
Speed My speed is 15 [one-five] knots. (15 knots)
Temperature Temperature is 23 [two-three] degrees Celsius. (23°)
Tonnage DWT/deadweight tonnes
NRT/net tonnes
GRT/gross tonnes
My tonnage is 30,000 [three-zero-thousand] gross tonnes.
(30,000 tonnes)
VHF frequency
Ohima Maru, this is Bravery. Change to VHF channel 72 [seven-two]. Over. (VHF 72)
Visibility to one mile
Visibility at Helsinki Lighthouse is 500 [five–zero-zero] metres.
Visibility over one mile
Visibility is 1.5 [one-decimal-five] miles. (1.5 nautical miles)
Weight kilograms/kilograms
tonnes/metric tonnes
Wind speed
Wind is Force 10 [one-zero]. (Indicating the Beaufort scale)
Wind is 23m/s [two-three metres per second].
Wind is 18 [one-eight] knots.

Time UTC/universal time coordinated
local time
Time is given in UTC at sea, before entry to a port, harbour or other terminal facility.
Time is given as local time inside a port, harbour or other terminal facility.
Time: 1500 [one-five-zero-zero] UTC.
Notice how coast radio stations give date and time at the end of messages:
Pan-Pan Pan-Pan Pan-Pan.
This is Scheveningen Radio, Scheveningen Radio, Scheveningen Radio.
Following received from DIANA 5 call sign PDQE.
Message reads: Engine troubler in position 3 miles north of Northhinder lightvessel... Need
immediate tug assistance.
Date and time: 010138 UTC Scheveningen Radio.
01 = date: first day of the month
0138 = time: one thirty eight a.m. (in the morning)



Methods of giving a position
Which method to use:
1. Latitude and Longitude:
- when clear of land, when near a clear coast
- when geographical names may be confusing
Example: 30° 50' N 018° 25' 02 E
Position: Latitude: three-zero degrees five-zero minutes North;
Longitude: zero-one-eight degrees two-five decimal zero-two minutes East.
2. Bearing and Distance:
- when near land or sea mark
- when there is a possibility of charts with different datums being used
Notice that the correct order is bearing from…distance…
My position is: bearing: one-niner-four degrees true from Cape Fantasia, distance one two
decimal four miles.
Oil clearance operations in position: bearing 160° [one-six-zero] degrees from Barwater Pier
distance four miles (160°; 4 nautical miles).
3. Reference to a Navigation Mark
- when approaching ports or harbours
Example: Position: I am approaching / passing / leaving Harmaja lighthouse.
Using Cardinal Points / North, South, East, West, also Northeast, Southwest etc., example:
Oil clearance operations east of fairway at Helsinki Ligthouse.
4. By Reporting Points
- in areas where reporting points have been marked on the charts
Example: I am approaching reporting point number 2.
NOTE: In a distress, safety or urgency situation the position is always to be transmitted in
the form in which it was observed!
NOTE: Bearings and courses are always given in three figures:
Pilot boat is bearing 215° (T) from you.
Buoy 030° on your port bow.
[Pilot boat is bearing two-one-five degrees true from you.]
[Buoy zero-three-zero degrees on your port bow.]
NOTE: Rudder angles in steering orders are given as follows.
Starboard 15! (fifteen, NOT five-one)
Port 20! (twenty)

Radio Communication


The phonetic alphabet must be used when giving call-signs, when spelling a word or when saying individual letters:

A Alfa
B Bravo
C Charlie
D Delta
E Echo
F Foxtrot
G Golf
H Hotel
I India
J Juliett
K Kilo
L Lima
M Mike
N November
O Oscar
P Papa
Q Quebec
R Romeo
S Sierra
T Tango
U Uniform
V Victor
W Whiskey
X Xray
Y Yankee
Z Zulu

Some common abbreviations spoken as initial letters:

ETA - Estimated Time of Arrival
ETD - Estimated Time of Departure
IMO - international Maritime Organization
SAR - Search And Rescu
UTC - Universal Time Co-ordinated
VHF - Very High Frequency

Some common abbreviations spoken as words:

AMVER - Automated Mutual Vessel system
IALA - International Association of Lighthouse Authorities
LASH - Lighter Aboard Ship System
RORO - Roll On-Roll Off

Container ships collisions

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Vessel Types : Cable-Laying (2)

The most important cable handling equipment aboard "The Cable Innovator" is the electrically operated cable laying drum with various tension devices. The drum diameter is 4m long and has fixed-angle fleeting rings and blades for controlling the cable work. It is equipped with a special A-frame for handling the plough used for cable burial in the seabed.

Furthermore, "The Cable Innovator" is equipped with an echo sounder and devices for measuring the length of the cable laid out. While laying cables, all main data are monitored, logged and printed out as a quality control.

The control system can also dispaly all data accounting for the tension of the plough tow cable when the vessel operates and can activate the alarm in case the cable tension gets too high. The vessel automatically reduces the speed.

When buried safely beneath the sea bed, the fibre optic communication cables constitute a vital part of our global telecommunication network.

Cable-laying vessels, also called cable layers, are specially designed for laying and repairing telegraph and telephone cable across vast water areas like channels, seas and oceans. Modern cable layers ar as efficeint in repair and maintenance operations as in long-haul cable laying. The internet boom together with the extraordinary expansion of telecommunication has led to the growing demand for vessels specialising in laying sub-sea optical fibre networks.

"The Cable Innovator" seems to be the largest vessel operating in this market. The ship was built by Kvaerner Masa Yards in Finland. All cable-laying operations are carried over the stern, so the bessel can mantain a high speed and is not slowed down during cable work. Moreover it can operate succesfully in extreme wether conditions. It has been designed to deploy a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). The vehicle is connected to the ship via communication tether.

Vessel Types : Industrial ships

Industrial ships are designed to carry out industrial processes at sea, like drawing out raw materials and food resources from waters. The activities that take place aboard these ships include extracting oil and mineral salts, or catching and processing fish and crustaceans like crabs, shrimps and lobsters. Thus, if we consider the function the ships perform, we can clearly distinguish between the extractive and processing ships. The first type includes trawlers and seiners. A trawler is the most popular vessel among fishing ships. Its name comes from the name of activity, "trawling", which means catching fish by dragging a fishing net along the sea bed. The trawl can be launched either over the ship side or over the stern. Spain and Norway have been taking the lead with respect to the number, size and variety of trawlers built.

Non-trawling vessels can rangefrom simple crafts which deploy a net, to fishing vessels that first lay out nets, even for a distance of a few kilometres, and then wait for the shoal of fish to swim into it. The typical representatives are seiners, tuna clippers and crab boats. A seiner makes use of a special kind of net called a seine net in the following way: the net hangs vertically in water. Its top edge floats and its bottom is weighted and equipped with a rope. When a shoal of fish swims into the net, the rope tightens and closes around it.

Processing ships receive fish or other sea goods from exctractive ships, process them into products, and bring them to ports. They must be fitted with special machines for processing, canning and storing.

Vessel Types : Car Carriers (2)

The vessel is constructed with two hydraulically-operated external stern ramps. One is a straight stern ramp, another one is a quarter stern ramp. Easch of them has a safe working load of 70 tons and a 6-metre long diveway. All vehicles ranging from passenger cars to heavy movable machinery can be loaded and discharged through these two ramps.

For PCTC carriers, a stern quarter ramp offers considerable advantages for cargo access and handling. Its main benefit is that it allowa the vessel to berth in the normal manner, that is alongside the quay, without the need for special shore facilities. The motor vehicles carried by the "Elbe Highway", and later on by her three sisters, can be handled at any port in the world, not only at Ro-Ro terminals with trailer quays.

The carrier is built with eight cargo decks in total. Two of them are liftable car decks. They enhancegreatly the operational flexibility of the vessel. Unlike hoistable car decks, they have no integral lifting mechanism, but are deployed by a mobile deck lift. Thus, the maintenance requirements of each of the panels forming the movable deck are limited. The arrangement of internal ramps are fixed car decks follows the main design concept to shorten the time in port. Namely, deck supporting pillars have been designed off the ship centre line, making the construction not symmetrical, but allowing for better cargo access.

The "Elbe Highway" has been classified by DNV as ICE-1A as the hull is strengthened in her underwater and bow sections. The navigating bridge is fully glass-shielded to improve the navigation visibility on icy waters.

The prototype carrier has already joined the growing fleet of high-quality car carriers of high manoeuvrability and efficiency that are operating on short routes in the Baltic and North Sea regions.

Vessel Types : Car Carriers (1)

This post about Car Carriers is on with a lot of infos and details. The "Elbe Highway" is the first of the series of four innovative PCTC (Pure Car and Truck Carrier) Ro-Ro car carriers built in Gdynia Shipyard S.A. , Poland, for long-term charter for Kawasaki Europe. The shipyard design office team initiated and accomplished all the concept work on these new vessels. Along the way they were able to put into practice the yard's considerable experience in the field.

The delivery ceremony was held on 20th August 2005, exactly nine months after the commencement of steel cutting. The second ship, the "Thames Highway", exactly replicating the design of the prototype, was completed by the end of 2005.

The largest car carriers of today can handle over 6000 units. The "Elbe Highway" with her overall length of 143 m and breadth of 25 m, can carry up to 2100 units, so the total car deck capacity is comparatively small. In fact, she can be classified as the only vessel ever desingned and built expressly for carrying vehicles. The intention was to follow the innovative approach to world car transport. The crucial idea is to lower the cost of the port stay by means of emplyoing smaller cargo ships, operating as feeders.

Vessel Types : Tankers

Tankers are vessels designed for carrying any liquid cargo such as petroleum and products derived from it, liquefied gases, chemicals, wine and water. There are gas tankers designed for carrying liquefied gas, either LPG or LNG, both of which need to be kept at higher higher pressure and at low temperatures to mantaing the cargo in a liquefied state, and there are crude oil tankers. The latter usually carry crude oil from a loading port near oil fields or from the end of a pipeline to a refinery. Gas tankers are often steam turbine ships. The boil-off, which is the gas evaporated from the cargo in order to keep the temperature low, can be used as fuel for the boilers.
Tankers come in all sizes, ranging from bunkering tankers of 1000DWT used for refueling larger vessels to the real giants:

  • The VLCC - Very Large Crude Carrier, 200.000 - 300.000 DWT
  • The ULCC - Ultra Large Crude Carrier, over 300.000 DWT
Crude oil tankers are the largest of all cargo ships. Their capacity has risen right up to 500.000 tons and, consequently, their large draught limits their sailing routes. There are only a few ports that supertankers can enter ans thus they are mostly loaded and unloaded from off-shore pumping stations. The liquefied cargo is loaded by means of pipes from shore facilities and through flexible pipelines mounted on the jetty.

A further step in the development of the oil industry is the Floating, Production, Storage and Offloading vessel (FPSO), designed for off-shore purposes. When a large vessel like a crude oil tanker is damaged by collision or grounding, vast amounts of oil my leak out straight into the sea. This explains the strict requirement for them to have a double hull.

Vessel Types : Containerships

These ships carry cargo in containers. Goods are locked and sealed in huge boxes of the standard size. Containerships carry containers both in holds and on the main deck. In the holds, there is a special cellular structure of guide rails where containers are stowed one on the top of another. That is why they can be also called cellular vessels. These ships usually have one deck, with the machinery spaces located towards the aft end. Additional containers are stowed on open deck and anchored in place by wire ropes. Containerships have made a revolution in water sport. The higher speed of around 26 knots is their main advantage over other cargo ships. In addition, the loading and unloading work with the use of shore based moving gantry cranes is extremely fast. The primary advantage of the use of containers is the possibillity of transporting cargo directly from customer to customer, not only from port to port. Container vessels have grown in capacity up to 8000 TEU. Large containers vessels usually do not have thei own loading gear. However, small or medium-sized ones, called container feeders, are often equipped with cargo gear. Also, some multiporpose ships can operate as container feeders.

Vessel Types : Bulk carriers

In the next period I will write about vessel types. So I begin today with the bulk carries.
Bulk carriers, or just bulkers, are ships especially designed to carry loose goods in bulk. The cargo transported in bulk commonly includes wood, coal, ore, grain, coke, fertilisers, cement, light materials, sugar and sand. Bulkers usually have one deck, with engine room in the stern and a deckhouse above it.

Holds are constructed with longitudinal and cross walls, called bulkheads. Cargo in bulk is easily stowed in between them. Bulk cargo ships are not equipped with any handling gear, except for handy size ones, up to 30,000 tond of deadweight. All loading and unloading is done by means of shore devices like grabs or suction pippes. Some of them make use of flexible ductings and fans, which simply blow light cargo into holds. Port devices may include special conveyors that drop cargo inside. When on hold is full, loading si continued into the next one.

Bulk carriers have large upper and lower ballast tanks to provide enough draught. Some bulk carriers are designed to funtion also as tankers. Such vessels are called Ore Bulk Oil carriers.

Ports, which have traditionally been run like government departments, are becoming a normal industry thanks to the infusion of private money that promises greater competition, higher productivity and eventually lower costs that will be passed on the importers and exporters. In this new and volatile environment, the pubil sector is forced to reassess its role in the port industry.

The retreat of government flourishes in the belief that an enterorise-based economy would allow for greater flexibility and efficiency in the market and a more effective response to consumers demands. Many so-called port privatisation schemes are in fact some form of commercialisation or coprporatisation of a port authority.

IMO Fire Control Symbols

In this post will be presented IMO Fire Control Symbols:

For now I will post IMO symbols and it's a great idea to print this page and also to learn them. Click on the picture to enlarge :

MarEng Free Software

  1. You have two options. Click on any of the links below to load the first part of the program. Alternatively, you can download the full program (409MB).
  2. Select “Save” and select a location on your computer.
  3. You will be notified once the download is complete. After the download has completed, doubleclick on the downloaded file to install that part of the program. (After this, the downloaded file can be deleted.)
  4. The program will start automatically once the installation is complete. A "MarEng" shortcut icon will also be created on your desktop.
  5. The remaining parts will be downloaded as needed (provided you have an open Internet connection). The program will install the remaining parts automatically in the correct location on your computer.
  6. If you exit the program and want to use it again later, you can open it by clicking on the MarEng icon on your desktop.
You can download MarEng from here: MarEng

MarEng is the best learning tool, still free available for maritime industry. MarEng is a transnational project that aims to promote the maritime English language competences of those working in the various maritime professions in Europe. From their site you cand dowmload the program by chapters or full even if it's bigger. There are some chapters for you like a little presentation:

  1. In Port
    • Port Operations, Cargo Handling
    • Shipping and Maritime Management
  2. The Ship and Its Crew
    • Types of Ships
    • Navigation Bridge, Bridge Instruments
    • Engine Room
    • Cargo Space
  3. Leaving Port
    • Port State Control
  4. In the Fairway
    • Navigation, Seamarks, Lights
    • Lighthouses
    • VTS
  5. On the Watch - A Working Day on Board
  6. A Storm - Mayday, Mayday
    • Radio Communication
    • Weather Reports, Navtex
  7. An Accident on Board
    • Radio Medical
    • Search and Rescue
    • Helicopter Rescue
  8. Trespassing - An Encounter with the Coast Guard
    • Security Issues
  9. Approaching the Port of Destination
    • Ice Navigation
    • VTS
    • Pilotage

Here are some pictures with the program:

Parts of a vessel

As my first class at university I will present you in this post the parts of the vessel:

* Bow - the front and generally sharp end of the hull. It is designed to reduce the resistance of the hull cutting through water and should be tall enough to prevent water from easily washing over the top of the hull.
* Bulkhead - the internal walls of the hull
* Chines - are long, longitudinal strips on hydroplaning hulls that deflect downwards the spray that is produced by the hull when it travels at speed in the water. The term also refers to distinct changes in angle of the hull sections, where the bottom blends into the sides of a flat bottomed skiff, for instance. A hull may have 2 or more chines to allow an approximation of a round bottomed shape with flat panels. It also refers to the longitudinal members inside the hull which support the edges of these panels.
* Deck - the top surface of the hull keeps water and weather out of the hull and allows the crew to stand safely and operate the boat more easily. It stiffens an enclosed hull.
* Gunwale - The upper longitudinal structural member of the hull.
* Keel - the main central member along the length of the bottom of the boat. It is an important part of the boat's structure which also has a strong influence on its turning performance and, in sailing boats, resists the sideways pressure of the wind
* Keelson - an internal beam fixed to the top of the keel to strengthen the joint of the upper members of the boat to the keel
* Rudder - a steering device at the rear of the hull created by a turnable blade on a vertical axis
* Sheer - the generally curved shape of the top of the hull. The sheer is traditionally lowest amidships to maximize freeboard at the ends of the hull. Sheers can be reverse, higher in the middle, to maximize space inside or straight or a combination of shapes.
* Stem - a continuation of the keel upwards at the front of the hull
* Stern - the back of the boat
* Strake - a strip of material running longitudinally along the vessel's side, bilge or bottom
* Transom - a wide, flat, sometimes vertical board at the rear of the hull, which, on small power boats, is often designed to carry an outboard motor. Transoms increase width and also buoyancy at the stern.