Category: Maritime Technology

Better Forecasts Ensure Safe Shipping


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Shipping is all about sailing in the sea. Whatever trades happen, one constant look out is the mood of the sea. It is that decisive factor that impacts everything in the industry. The art of reading this ‘mood-to-be’ is what is termed as weather forecasts, one of the most vital parts of successful and safe sailing.

Earlier, the natural forces were studied based on experiences. Then came the Barometer followed by Anemometers, Radar, Weather Balloons, Hygrometer, Buoys and the list gets better with each technological developments. As the leap gets bigger, the safety gets better too. Any given ship begins to sail only after it has a pre-approved passage plan. This takes into account a lot of factors and one of the vital factors is the weather.

A research paper called the Guide To The Marine Meteorological Services, explains: The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, in its Regulation 2, Chapter V, concerning the safety of navigation, specifies that the master of every ship is bound to issue a danger message when a ship meets with objects or conditions which are of direct danger to navigation.

As far as meteorological phenomena are concerned, danger messages should contain information on tropical cyclones (tropical storms) and their development; winds of force 10 or above on the Beaufort scale for which no storm warning has been received; sub-freezing air temperatures associated with gale force winds causing severe ice accretion on super-structures; sea ice or ice of land origin (e.g. icebergs).

Emphasizing on the importance of Meteorological whereabouts, the same report states, the details concerning the contents of danger messages and their transmission are described in Regulation 3 of Chapter V of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

The information given in these messages directly serves the safety of navigation. Those containing meteorological information are of vital importance to Meteorological Services for the preparation of a ship to face the dangers, if any.

Advancements and technological growth has increased the efficiency and accuracy beyond the seas. Other than sending the weather moods to the captain at regular intervals as a routine, the ship can ask for any update at any time of the day.

Every shipping corporation today, has a dedicated weather forecast department. For example, MSC of the Mediterranean Shipping Company has a dedicated weather department in Geneva that keeps a track of the weather of all the passages and routes where their vessels are sailing or are going to sail.

Technology has made it all possible to be sitting in one corner of the world and have exact report on the weather condition over the entire planet.

Forecast technological advancements in the shipping industry has saved time and increased trades & profits. All this because, now any ship can keep sailing for months together without being under the fear of being hit by a storm for they know that the super computers, the Doppler radar and the satellites are out there, watching over.

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