After a number of captains complained to The Crew Report about the lack of a single, all-encompassing weather system to cover the world’s waters, we put this question to the maritime forecasting industry. Founder of marine weather services provider Navimeteo, Gianfranco Meggiorin, explains why captains should be utilising a plethora of technology to ensure successful passages and safety at sea.

Credit: NASA

To make things easier, many captains have made clear their wish to use a single weather service covering all seas and oceans around the world. But the point is that out of a matter of responsibility and in order to operate in the most detailed way possible for delivering accurate weather information, each meteorological area is covered by the services of its own national weather organisations. The aim is to focus and strengthen the forecast of an area on a small scale, taking into account location-specific variables.

The official weather information delivered on a global scale for the various maritime areas is not to be undervalued. It would not be right to underestimate the experience and capacity of the national organisations. Every country relies on meteorological data and satellite images together with oceanographic observations coming from the widespread WMO network. On this basis, each country organises a range of forecasting models capable of spotting details across wider areas. The premise is that of cooperation among the various countries in order for ever-more accurate worldwide services to be delivered.

The availability of different sources of information covering the same area should be considered by captains in a positive light, as it enables the captain to choose the relevant information according to a criterion of reliability, accuracy and easy usage, all depending on the planned route. For example, all countries in the Mediterranean work out their own bulletin for their covered areas in different formats and procedures; you can find textual and more detailed bulletins together with cyphered bulletins, which give two different interpretations.

It enables the captain to choose the relevant information according to a criterion of reliability, accuracy and easy usage, all depending on the planned route.

When a captain puts weather analysis into practice, personal methodology will always play a role. Some captains prefer to keep the marine weather situation closely monitored; others make fewer and less regular checks. Some prefer to look at weather charts, bulletins, wave data, satellite images and ship observations; others wish to focus on how the vessel behaves, requesting concise analyses from weather centres that provide brief reports.

The constant monitoring of the changes of weather at sea demands not only easy access to a series of data and forecasts and proven experience, but it takes time too. The time available to the captain to monitor this important activity is sometimes limited, in spite of today's updated communication systems. Nowadays, captains can be compared to managers of floating companies, with the remit of the captain’s jobs being so extensive today. This changing role of the captain is the reason why a number of private companies have started offering weather routing services, putting emphasis on the assistance to navigation as carried out by skilled forecasters and oceanographers.

Find the full article in issue 66 of
The Crew Report.