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Hi everyone, Actually, this is my first question with this amazing community, I've been reading and getting answers for most of the things that come up.

I'm wondering if the following phrase better to be "Where is the onboard oil spill removal equipment stored?" or "Where is the oil spill removal equipment stored onboard?"

Appreciate your help.

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  • "On an SB-class trawler, where is the oil spill removal equipment normally stored?" Unless you've not specified a particular boat / class of boats, 'onboard' doesn't really work. If you're on a boat, 'onboard' would normally be unnecessary. // There is probably the odd occasion when you can use one of your suggestions; the first variant is the one giving the full description of the referent, while the second emphasises that you're not talking about portable oil spill removal equipment taken ashore for some reason. Mar 2, 2018 at 15:07
  • Edwin, thanks so much for your answer... I totally agree with you that it is an odd thing to use such variants!!! This is just part of some seafarers English test that I'll have to get through. Kind of jumbled words quiz with predetermined words that I have to rearrange for a complete phrase. Here are the words: "? is equipment removal oil onboard spill where stored the" Cheers!
    – Semghdou
    Mar 3, 2018 at 12:28
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    It might depend on whether you expected to have to deal with oil spills on board and oil spills in the sea. In that case there could be two sets of equipment: the Onboard oil spill equipment and the Overboard oil spill equipment which would, presumably, be stored in different places.
    – BoldBen
    May 2, 2018 at 19:20
  • It seems from the first sentence that we are talking about the equipment for removing onboard oil spills. If so, the second sentence is wrong.
    – GEdgar
    Aug 31, 2018 at 12:17

3 Answers 3

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There are two possible questions, meaning different things; we can't tell at the moment which you intend.

"Where is the onboard oil spill removal equipment stored?" implies 'There is a main supply of oil spill equipment (possibly called dockside oilspill equipment) and another supply called onboard oilspill removal equipment; where is the latter?'

"Where on board [better thus] is the oil spill equipment?" means 'I know it is on the ship somewhere, but where?' On board is probably redundant here.

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What about "Where, onboard, is the oil spill removal equipment stored?"

I really like this question because safety related signage and instructions are an area where grammar needs to be both technically correct and widely understood by readers of all abilities to comprehend the message.

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  • "Where, onboard, is the oil spill removal equipment stored?" Great!!! I like it the most. Thanks, Martyn.
    – Semghdou
    Mar 3, 2018 at 12:59
  • @Semghdou If this is your intended meaning, then your first sentence appears to be misleading/wrong. It suggests that "onboard" is a modifier for the "oil spill equipment" (ie it is for dealing with oil spills on board) rather than defining where it is stored. And, as the equipment cannot nee stored "off board" then the word onboard is probably redundant and should be omitted for clarity.
    – user184130
    Aug 1, 2018 at 9:33
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Well I think the real answer is, onboard belongs back in the dictionary, and not that sentence. :-) It seems like in most cases, it's redundant.

But, I have some feelings for this version:

Where is the onboard oil spill removal equipment stored?

...because that'd make sense when talking about both land-based and ship-based equipment. And the speaker wants to specify he's referring to the onboard items only. Unfortunately, if you ask that at a company meeting, a wise guy is likely to answer, "It's stored onboard, of course." And so maybe the way to ask this is,

Where, onboard, is the oil spill removal equipment stored?

Now that's pretty damn clear.

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