The problem of the internal navigation language causes more collisions


Language problems are increasingly causing collisions and charging accidents. Therefore, English must be presented as the official language for internal navigation. Here’s what Royal BLN Schuttevaer and National Nautical Traffic Control Training have to say in response to a Pointer radio program KRO NCRV report that will air Sunday evening. The documentary shows that many of the collisions can be traced back to poor communication or language barrier.


Nearly half of these collisions are caused by communication problems because the masters do not speak the same language.

On average, a collision between two inland vessels occurs once a week. Nearly half of these collisions are caused by communication problems because the captain does not speak the same language, according to a report by Intergo. In the opinion of many participants, the introduction of English as the official language would improve safety.

Koninklijke BLN Schuttevaer believes that something must change to counteract the increasing number of collisions. Political advisor Bas Strick: “There are more and more mixed crews. English as the official language will contribute to safety. It’s more in line with practice.”

The National Marine Traffic Control Training also believes that one language must be spoken from now on. Andreas Keeler, Head of Training: The truth is that the crews are less heading towards Germany. We have surpassed reality. And this is communication in English.

Increase in collisions due to language since 2014

Due to staff shortages, more and more foreign employees are arriving. These are mainly from Eastern Europe and nowadays also the Philippines. In February of this year, the research agency Intergo showed that the number of collisions has been on the increase since 2014 and that these are mainly a result of poor communication, lack of communication or the language barrier.

Unlike, say, ocean freight and aviation, there is now no official language of communication. The agreement is for the captain to communicate in the language of the country in which they are sailing or in German if they do not speak that language. This growth has grown historically because most ships sail the route between the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland.

The European Inland Waterways Directive comes into effect in 2022

In 2017, a European Directive (law) was established that harmonizes the requirements for domestic cargo crews. This directive will take effect in January 2022. An important requirement for future captains and captains is to pass a practical test in which communication is explicitly discussed. A unified language of communication was also to be agreed upon, but that has not yet been successful.

Sunday May 16 at 7 p.m. NPO Radio 1: Language issues in internal charging are causing an increase in the number of collisions

(Renee Quest)

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