Language of Operating and Maintenance Manuals

31st July 2004

Language of Operating and Maintenance Manuals

Initial Report

Having spent the greater part of my life at sea, some 40 years, of which 20 years was as master of anchor handlers, I am now employed ashore as a technical consultant for a shipping company.

The Company are presently constructing their first  vessel. My main activity is to train all personnel ready for when the vessel is delivered and commences a long term charter.

Your article ‘Operating and Maintenance Manuals’ was of particular interest because, as is normal, all equipment for the new build both major and minor will be delivered with operating and maintenance manuals; what is very disturbing is that they will only be in English, one company has been approached regarding this subject and will not budge, only English. Even when pressed for perhaps at least the major items, including the main engine and safety items they would not budge, not even for the fire detection system.

Other manufacturers were approached individually and most would not change their stance. There was one exception, a manufacturer, who was preparing instructions in the language of the crew and asked us to proof read the manual which we happily did and consequently have the manual for one piece of very important equipment in the language of the future operators.

It is for this reason that I cannot agree with the writer who stated ‘I believe that targeting manufacturers for fault re: operating and maintenance manuals is not correct’.




CHIRP has been making progress with these issues in discussion with the International Association of Classification Societies and others.  Amongst the questions being asked are:

Would standard formats for manuals facilitate training and reduce the potential for errors?

Should manuals be incorporated in the certification process (as in aviation)?

And now in addition:

How should language requirements be accommodated?

The CHIRP Maritime Advisory Board remains confident there are practical answers to all of these questions and welcomes further contributions.

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