Maersk Boxship Captain Delivers Weather Seminar While Under Way

Courtesy NOAA / MITAGS

Published Feb 12, 2024 3:01 PM by Dr. Chris Landsea

On February 1, MITAGS instructor and professional mariner Captain Rich Madden delivered a live seminar for U.S. National Weather Service forecasters from the container ship Maersk Columbus, which was transiting off the coast of West Africa. It may be among the first educational seminars delivered remotely from a merchant ship under way. 

His talk was titled “Navigating the Elements: Lessons Learned from El Faro and Weather Information Techniques in Maritime Operations.” Captain Madden provided a unique perspective on lessons learned from the tragic loss of El Faro in 2015 and shared insights into obtaining and interpreting weather information for maritime operations. He discussed different methods of receiving weather information, from traditional approaches like weatherfax to cutting-edge technologies such as high-speed downloads of GRIB (General Regularly distributed Information in Binary form) files. 

The talk emphasized the importance of trust and verification of forecasted conditions, showcasing real-life experiences and challenges faced at sea. Special attention was given to the critical role of weather routers and forecasters and the need for effective communication in decision-making.

Captain Madden concluded with a focus on tropical cyclone avoidance, highlighting key resources and the latest guidance available for mariners.

Over 50 NWS forecasters viewed Captain Madden’s presentation and asked questions afterward. Captain Madden’s seminar may be one of the very first educational talks given live from a cargo ship back to an audience half a world away, via high speed internet. The recorded presentation can be obtained here

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.