Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Maritime Affairs


General Maritime Administration & Environment Protection


Malmö, Sweden



First Advisor

Cole, Clive.


On board communication problems due to language barriers have been affecting maritime safety during the past years. This problem is found on board ships having multilingual crews and a lack of a common language. It increases during emergency situations when people must react as fast as possible under conditions of extreme pressure. In the special case of passenger ships the lack of a common language can make emergency situations become critical. Reviewing the “Scandinavian Star" disaster. examples of on board communication problems because of failures in the use of the English language can be clearly found. After the Flag of Convenience criteria was adopted by shipowners, multilingual crews became very common on board all kind of ships, and language and even cultural problems, which seldom used to happen, started to take place. It was not until Flag of Convenience came into the maritime business that problems related to crew communication started to receive some considerable attention. This work will focuses mainly on the human aspect of the problem, and will try to analyse the problem it self and the attention that the different branches of the maritime society (shipping industry. IMO. maritime academies) has given to it. Argentina, authors country, will also be analized. Finally it is not the aim of this paper to demonstrate that the lack of a common language is the main cause for accidents on board ships, but to state that it must be highly considered as one of the issues influencing maritime safety.