This study concerns marine seismic surveying and especially the towed in-sea hardware which is dominated by recording cables (streamers) that are extremely long compared to their diameter, neutrally buoyant and depth controlled. The present work aims to examine the operations from a nautical viewpoint, and the final objective is to propose improvements to the overall efficiency of marine seismic operations. Full-scale data were gathered from seismic vessels in order to identify which physical parameters affect the dynamic motion of the towing vessel and its in-sea hardware. Experimental test programmes have been carried out, and data bases with the hydrodynamic characteristics of the test equipment have been established at speeds comparable to those used in seismic operations. A basic analysis tool to provide dynamic simulations of a seismic streamer cable has been developed by tailoring the computer program system Riflex, and the validation and accuracy of this modified Riflex system are evaluated by performing uncertainty analyses of measurements and computations. Unexpected, low-frequency depth motions in towed seismic streamer cables occasionally take place when seismic data are being acquired. The phenomenon is analysed and discussed. 99 refs., 116 figs., 5 tabs.