IMO's Standard Marine Communication Phrases (SMCP) were adopted by the 22nd Assembly in November 2001 as resolution A.918(22) IMO Standard Marine Communication Phrases.

The SMNV was developed for use by seafarers, following an agreement that a common language - namely English - should be established for navigational purposes where language difficulties arise, and the IMO SMCP has been developed as a more comprehensive standardized safety language, taking into account changing conditions in modern seafaring and covering all major safety-related verbal communication.

The IMO SMCP includes phrases developed to cover the most important safety-related fields of verbal shore-to-ship (and vice-versa), ship-to-ship and on-board communications. The aim is to get around the problem of language barriers at sea and avoid misunderstandings that can cause accidents.

Some examples:

When spelling is necessary, only the following spelling table should be used:

A few digits and numbers have a modified pronunciation compared to general English:

MAYDAY to be used to announce a distress message
PAN PAN to be used to announce an urgent message
SECURITE to be used to announce a safety message

When latitude and longitude are used, these shall be expressed in degrees and minutes (and decimals of a minute if necessary), North or South of the Equator, and East or West of Greenwich.
Example: "WARNING. Dangerous wreck in position 15 degrees 34 minutes North 061 degrees 29 minutes West."

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