Safety update

June 1997 The marking of seismic streamers

This safety update is for seismic survey vessels. It is issued to raise awareness of the potential serious risk to safety from seismic survey operations. It provides best practice tips for how best to reduce the risks involved and to alert people to the risk to safety associated with seismic streamers.


Seismic survey operations involve the towing of a large array of streamers at varying depths. The streamers can be as long as 8000 metres, so that in moderate visibility the tail buoys will be out of sight of the towing vessel.

Safe practice tips

To enhance safe navigation, the IMO and the Maritime New Zealand recommend that seismic survey vessels should have:

  • tail buoys marking their towed streamers
  • a buoy towed a short distance behind the towing vessel

All buoys should display by day and night an all-round high-intensity white light flashing the Morse signal "U" - "You are running into danger".

The area of danger to approaching vessels is between the buoy towed close to the vessel, and the array of buoys towed on the tails of the streamers.

Seismic Survey vessels carrying out these operations are reminded to communicate their operations in a timely and effective manner.

Original source content - Boat Notice 081997, June: The marking of seismic streamers.

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