Currently, over eighty percent of all the world’s crews are multi-national, with the common language spoken on board unlikely to be the native language of the majority of crew (SIRC). Although there are a variety of factors that can affect the ability of the crew to ensure the safety of the vessel, poor communication is a major contributing factor in the occurrence of an accident (Pyne & Koester, 2005; Sampson & Zhao, 2003; Trenkner, 2007; Ziarati, 2006, 2009). Despite the industry's efforts to address miscommunication, lack of training in the use of Maritime English (ME), as well as inadequate proficiency levels of second language (L2) speakers, continues to negatively impact verbal maritime interactions.
As a first stage in the multi-step process of developing effective curricula and training materials, the current, ongoing research aims to provide a deeper understanding of the use of ME, as well as the possible linguistic and sociocultural causes of miscommunication, in the multilingual and multicultural environment of the modern maritime industry by conducting a task-based needs analysis of the linguistic and pragmatic needs of users of ME. A needs analysis will improve the efficacy and efficiency of ME instruction by providing current programs with up to date and relevant information regarding the authentic use of language in the commercial shipping industry.