The increased maritime accidents attributable to communication barriers have raised great concern about international shipping safety. The requirement for effective communication has been contained in the compulsory part of the International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers in 2010. However, many Chinese seafarers still experience difficulty in communicating with foreign seafarers at sea even though they passed the English exams required for a Certificate of Competency. Literature argues that the outcomes of maritime English education are not satisfactory. However, this claim is too general and has not been substantiated with empirical evidence. Using a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, this paper reveals that English communicative incompetence of Chinese seafarers was attributable to the maritime English examinations system, teaching materials, teaching methods and teachers and students themselves. Recommendations were made to improve maritime cadetsí English communicative competence.
communicative competence, Chinese seafarers, communication barriers, maritime English education and training