The rapid development of technologies and the increasingly strict international shipping regulations help to explain a significant decrease in shipping losses over decades. However, the number of accidents attributable to human errors, in which communication failures represent one third, has not been reduced proportionally. Under the Manila Amendments 2010, it became a compulsory requirement for every company to ensure that seafarers can communicate effectively. Communicative competence of seafarers has been of vital significance in modern shipping. A majority of merchant ships in international voyages are manned with multicultural and multilingual crew. It is not only the multilingual but also the intercultural character of mariners that leads to miscommunication on board. Additionally, communicative competence involves psycholinguistic, strategic and pragmatic aspects. The concept of communicative competence is relatively new in the context of maritime education and training in China and there is a dearth of research dealing with Chinese seafarersí communicative competence. Through an empirical study, this paper aims to fill in the gap by investigating the current status of Chinese seafarersí communicative proficiency from linguistic, intercultural, psycholinguistic, strategic and pragmatic perspectives to understand their strengths and weaknesses in their English communication. Based on the findings of quantitative data analysis, recommendations are finally made to improve Chinese seafarersí communicative competence.
maritime communication, Chinese seafarers, maritime English, communicative competence