PART II - GLOSSARY Abandon vessel To evacuate a vessel from crew and passengers following a distress Adrift Floating, not controlled, without a clearly determinable direction Assembly station Place on deck, in mess rooms, etc.

IMO STANDARD MARINE COMMUNICATION PHRASES (SMCPs) Part 2

Maritime blog

PART II - GLOSSARY

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

Adrift Floating, not controlled, without a clearly determinable direction

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 upon a beach to prevent its sinking in deep water

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

Briefing A concise explanatory information to crew and passengers

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 from a fixed point, e.g. a wreck

Casualty Case of death or serious injury to a person in an accident or shipping disaster, also said of a distressed vessel

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

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

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

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 Closest point of approach

CSS Co-ordinator surface search: A vessel, other than a rescue unit, designated to co-ordinate surface search and rescue operation within a specified area

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 its voyage

Disembark (to) To go from board a vessel

Distress alert (GMDSS) A radio signal from a distressed vessel automatically directed to a RCC giving position, identification, course and speed of the vessel as well as the nature of distress

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 vessel

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

Embark (to) To go aboard a vessel

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

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

Fairway Navigable part of a waterway

Fairway speed Mandatory speed in a fairway


Fire party A group of crew members trained for fire fighting on board

Fire patrol A round through the vessel carried out by a crew member of the watch 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

General emergency alarm A sound signal of seven short blasts and one long blast given with the vessel´s sound system

GMDSS Global maritime distress and safety system

GPS Global (satellite) positioning system

Hampered vessel A vessel restricted by its ability to manoeuvre by the nature of its work or its deep draft

Hatchrails Ropes supported by stanchions around an open hatch to prevent persons from falling into a hold

Hoist here: A cable used by helicopters for lifting or lowering persons in a pick-up operation

IMO-Class Group of dangerous or hazardous goods, harmful substances or marine pollutants in sea transport as classified in the International Dangerous Goods Code (IMDG Code)

Initial course Course directed by the OSC or CSS 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 a damage to the hull


Leeway Lateral movement of the vessel to leeward of its course

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 have to meet before they will be ordered to enter the lifeboats

List Inclination of the vessel to port side or starboard side

Make water (to) Seawater to flow into the vessel due to damage to its hull, or hatches awash and not properly closed

Manoeuvring speed A vessel´s reduced rate of speed in restricted waters such as fairways, harbours, etc.

Mass disease An illness preferably of an infectious nature seizing more than two persons on board at the same time

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

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

Not under command A vessel which through exceptional circumstances is unable to manoeuvre

(NUC) 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 or a Decca chain, etc., have broken down, switched off or suspended

Off station (of buoys) Not at the position charted

Oil clearance An operation to remove oil from the water surface

Operational Ready for immediate use

Ordnance exercise Naval firing practice

OSC On-scene commander: The commander of a rescue unit designated to co-ordinate search and rescue operations within a specified area

Outbound/inbound vessel A vessel leaving/entering port

Overflow Accidental escape of oil out of a tank when it gets too full because pumping was not stopped in time


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

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

PA-system Public address system: Loudspeakers in the vessel´s cabins, mess rooms, etc., and on deck via which important information can be broadcast from a central point, mostly from the navigation bridge

RCC Rescue co-ordination centre: Land-based authority conducting and co‑ordinating search and rescue operations in a designated area

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 screen separating the fairway for inbound and outbound vessels so that they can safely pass each other

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

Reporting point (see Way point)

Rendez-vous An appointment between vessels normally made on radio to meet in a certain area or position

Rescue team A group of crew members standing by in case of an emergency in order to assist other teams in action if necessary

Restricted area A deck, space, area, etc., not permitted to be entered for safety reasons

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 another

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 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 or CSS

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

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

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

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

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

Standing orders Orders of the Master to the officers 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

Take off (to) To start with the helicopter from a vessel´s deck

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

Traffic lane A one-way route which vessels have to comply with within a traffic separation scheme

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

Transit 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.

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

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

VTS Vessel traffic service: A service, designed to improve safety, efficiency, and easiness of vessel traffic and to protect the environment

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

Way point A mark or position at which a vessel is required to report to establish its position

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

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