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TurboWin Software Value In The
Voluntary Observing Ship Program

In order to establish standards and best practices within the Voluntary Observing Ship Program (VOS) global ship data reporting fleets, the U.S. VOS program has standardized the ship logging and encoding software using TurboWin+.

TurboWin was developed at KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) with contributions from several National Meteorological Services and endorsed by the WMO (World Meteorological Organization) and E-SURFMAR (European Surface Marine Program). Meteorological observations made on board ships and fixed sea stations are a substantial component of the World Weather Watch, providing observations that are accurate and of high quality. The fixed sea stations and VOS (Voluntary Observing Ship) program are key components of the GOOS (Global Ocean Observing System) and climate research. To achieve an optimal control of the quality of the observations, before they are used in real time forecast, the quality control has to be carried out at the observing entry points, by the observers themselves. TurboWin contains observation checking routines which are applied on the observations before they are transmitted.

TurboWin is a user-friendly system with over 200 built-in quality checks. The software is used for logging and encoding observation and assists with transmission on board ships and fixed sea stations. The Turbowin software assists the observer with many menus, pictures, photos, forms, help pages, output options, automated calculations etc.

The VOS program encourages ships to report marine weather to the National Weather Service, ensuring that a continuous acquisition and dissemination of domestic and foreign meteorological and oceanographic data is ingested insuring an uninterrupted flow and production of various forecasting models, watches, and warnings. These observations are critical to safety at sea. Unlike the land masses which are rich with data coverage, our oceans have vast areas which are data sparse and ships become an irreplaceable source for the gathering of such vital environmental data.

The USCG (United States Coast Guard) AMVER (Automated Mutual-Assistance Vessel Rescuer - system allows ships to report their intended track so that in the event of an emergency all available resources may be focused on aiding ships in distress. Both of these systems, VOS and AMVER, are voluntary and are intended to aid all mariners on the high seas.

AMVER reports allow the USCG to track a vessel's position. The AMVER program relies on ships to submit four types of reports: (1) Sail Plans, (2) Position Reports, (3) Arrival Reports, and (4) Deviation Reports. The USCG updates their database with the position information from these reports, which allows them to identify vessels in the vicinity of a ship in distress.

Ships may participate in either the VOS program or AMVER Program, but there are benefits to participating in both. A ship can reduce reporting requirements, since AMVER position reports are created from every weather message and automatically forwarded to the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Voluntary Observing Ship Program request manual observers to report weather at least four times per day at 00Z, 06Z, 12Z, and 18Z. Manual observers are also encouraged to submit reports at 03Z, 09Z, 15Z and 21Z. Automated and hybrid weather stations, such as AutoEMOS, are set for a minimum of 24 observations per day.

To participate in the U.S. VOS program, contact your nearest U.S. Port Meteorological Officer or VOS Management at

AMVER contact:
Ben Strong 1-212-668-7762

U.S. Dept. of Commerce
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
National Weather Service
Voluntary Observing Ship Program
    1325 East-West Highway
    Suite 312
    Silver Spring, MD 20910
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