Official language Scheldt region
In the area managed by the Common Nautical Authority, it is compulsory to use either Dutch or English in marine communication. Failure to do so is subject to punishment. In the period July–December 2011, crews of ships that fail to comply with this obligation will be sternly reminded of the offi cial-language obligation. As of 1 January 2012, failure to fulfi l this obligation will result in prosecution.
The Western Scheldt is one of the busiest waterways in the world. It is also one of the most dangerous rivers in the world. For this reason, clear communication between all parties involved is of essential importance to safety on the river. It therefore helps to have a common language.
Ever since the introduction of the Scheldt Radar Chain in 1991, Dutch and English have been the official languages used for marine communication in the Scheldt region. As of July 2011, a collective announcement was made by the Common Nautical Authority [Gemeenschappelijke Nautische Autoriteit] to explicitly establish Dutch and English as the offi cial languages for communication between vessels in the area or communication with waterway traffic controllers. This means that it is mandatory to use Dutch or English in such communications.
The dangers on the Western Scheldt are posed by the tidal variations, the dangerous currents and the numerous, partially uncovered sand fl ats. Furthermore, the river is used by a wide variety of inland and seagoing vessels. Seagoing vessels make up the majority of regular users of the waterway. However, for many inland captains, the river is unknown territory.
Furthermore, they are not always used to sharing the water with large seagoing vessels. Dangerous situations often occur because the crews of different ships do not understand each other properly. This also hampers communication with waterway traffic controllers. As a result, the Committee for Nautical Safety in Scheldemond [Commissie Nautische Veiligheid Scheldemonden] conducted research into the cause of ship accidents. This research showed that poor communication played a role in a large number of accidents.
Folder Official language for the Scheldt region EN