The Master is responsible for everything onboard

Ian Brown
15th January 2011, 10:09
I noted in a recent post there was some controversy regarding whether a Master should be criminally liable for an accident onboard.
Every Company that I am aware of defines a Master as being responsible for ensuring that all departments follow Company Procedures.
This is now taken as meaning that therefore if anything goes wrong in any department, he is responsible.

For example - if a 4th Engineer makes a wrong entry in the Oil Record Book for a transfer between E/R bilge tanks, the Master can end up in the legal dock instead of the marine one.

How can a Master ensure that everyone onboard follows procedures every day, all day?
Or does he just do his best and ride his luck.

GWB
15th January 2011, 10:49
Its called find an escape goat, all care taken no responsibility.

Boatman25
15th January 2011, 11:46
I think that there must be someone who is the boss for discipline and for continuity. But having said that, I also feel that people should be responsible for their actions when they are in positions of authority and trust.

If for sake of an easy example the 2nd engineer through his actions causes an oil spill then he should be responsible not the Master. The Master cannot stand at peoples shoulders all the time.

But if the Master ignores or fails to act on failures of company rules, or sanctions rule breaking then yes he should be disciplined, but only if he bears some responsibility for those actions.

He really is as stated above a 'scapegoat ' for easy action against where investigation and possible dipping into that deep puddle of ' human rights ' would prove costly to both Company and official investigations

lakercapt
15th January 2011, 15:26
I was on a Canadian ship in Savannah Georgia and was having the afternoon ashore on a shopping trip.
Was walking along minding my own business when the agents car pulled up and told me I had to go back to the ship as there had been an oil spill.
Got back and there was all sorts of U.S. Coast Guard personnel running about doing what they were supposed to be doing.
Apparently a very small amount of oil had spilled onto the deck (scuppers etc were plugged but no escape into the harbour)
I was asked to make a statement by one very officious Coast Guard person.
I began"I was walking down Main Street when a car pulled up beside me and indicated that I was required about the ship asap"
He did not find that amusing!!
I told him that it was the C/E who he should be questioning not me when I was informed that I was in charge and should know.
There he was perfectly correct as according too the laws I was but where do you have a limit in your responsibilities???

Klaatu83
15th January 2011, 15:55
The seriousness of this subject is in no way exaggerated. The captain on my last ship (in 2005) told me that he was facing Federal criminal charges at that time over a violation that had been committed, without the captain's knowledge, by one of the engineers. So far as I am aware, the maritime industry is one of the few instances where that sort of thing can occur.

There is a political principal commonly referred to as "Plausible Deniability", to the effect that the guys at the top are able to deflect culpability upon somebody lower down. Who can forget the Iran-Contra Scandal, during the Reagan Administration during the 1980s, when all the Pundits discussed "What didn't the President know, and when didn't he know it"? However, ship's captains in the maritime industry do not enjoy that luxury. Perhaps that is the reason why the commanding officer of a vessel is know as the "The Master" rather than "Managing Director" or "Chief Executive Officer". After all, even Prime Ministers and Presidents are not permitted to refer to themselves as "The Master".

Capt.Douney R. Bacoy,MM
15th January 2011, 17:46
As a master onboard MV Seasafe Supporter, with 80 persons on board Filipinos, Americans, British, South Africans,Lebanese, and Nigerians then i would say that the MASTER is responsible for everything on board however, I'm not a superman that every moves of our crew on board is under my command because all people have their own initiative and in case any problems on board then i am responsible to answer for any queries but it doesn't mean that i am liable for everything.......

johnjames06
15th January 2011, 19:19
Hello all present and ex masters, Is it an urban myth that the master can marry people on board at sea? (perform the marriage ceremony that is) Regards John.

randcmackenzie
15th January 2011, 20:05
Yes, except on Liberian ships.

On other flags, the Master is the Registrar, and the marriage is performed by a minister of religion or other authorised person.

There is a fair amount of discussion on this on another thread.

lakercapt
15th January 2011, 21:52
Hello all present and ex masters, Is it an urban myth that the master can marry people on board at sea? (perform the marriage ceremony that is) Regards John.

A ships master cannot marry anyone (except for the duration of the voyage!!!!!!)
He can act as a Registrar (also for births and deaths).hatches,matches and dispatches
I only speak for UK and Canadian ships as I don't know if foreign ships allow it

JoK
15th January 2011, 23:27
There is a Management TEAM onboard the vessel.
The Master delegates responsibilities.

Rightly or wrongly if someone does not follow policy, responsibility rolls up to the Master.

It is exactly the same as a person ashore going up on a platform and falling and being killed because he did not wear a harness. Despite the fact he had been told to wear one, the store owner\manager was liable for a 100k fine and jail time over the death.
I was recently superintendent of a marine shop with 30 odd employees. If someone was injured in the shop because they were stupid and broke the rules it was my neck on the line even though I was sitting at my desk doing financial reports and not standing over them.

If a man on a ship is killed because he was not in his proper safety equipment, why would the responsibility not fall on the person in authority?

If you think it is wrong, don't sail into Canada, because as Captain you will be held accountable under the countries MOSH regulations.

And, also, you are not only responsible for the crew, you are responsible for Contractors onboard that are working and must do risk assessments for all jobs that are going to be preformed. AND, and must ensure that all safety requirements are being met.

There is no pretending not to see something, turning and walking away and letting a 20 something young man fall to his death because he is ill-trained.

Hamish Mackintosh
15th January 2011, 23:47
Can anyone enlighten me as to what an "extra master" means? I sailed with two, Capt Griffiths on the Petworth, and the C/O of the British Splendour who also had an "extra" certificate

JoK
15th January 2011, 23:58
and something else, would you really want to sail on a cruise ship that has standards like this and the one that had the fire?
The ship with the fire had been operation almost 2 years with an inaccurate operation manual for the fire suppression system. Somewhat important system to have F''d up instruction on, don't you think? So do you think they had regular drills to pick that up before an actual Incident...let me get the word right.

Kinnie
16th January 2011, 09:11
Can anyone enlighten me as to what an "extra master" means? I sailed with two, Capt Griffiths on the Petworth, and the C/O of the British Splendour who also had an "extra" certificate

One who had passed the exam which involved more advanced maths and navigation. At one time it used to be required by some of "better" companies but more recently was generally only taken by those wishing to move ashore, or who were trying to prove how clever they were. Its been done away with since STCW.

Mike S
16th January 2011, 10:22
Ref Cruise ship fire......

Disaster looking for place to happen don't you think JoK!

Surely no accident when there is so much apparent pre planned inefficiency. Once again I feel we are both saying the same thing in a different language.

English language..........the curse of the drinking classes.

Derek Roger
16th January 2011, 16:33
If the cook poisons the crew and they all die ; is the deceased "old Man" still held liable?

Just a thought . Derek

johnjames06
16th January 2011, 16:44
No, His next of kin assumes responsibiliyt. (Thumb)(Thumb)

JoK
17th January 2011, 15:42
Ref Cruise ship fire......

Disaster looking for place to happen don't you think JoK!

Surely no accident when there is so much apparent pre planned inefficiency. Once again I feel we are both saying the same thing in a different language.

English language..........the curse of the drinking classes.


No doubt

some posts on here are like understanding swahili and I sailed with a couple of Irish, Scots and Welsh fellows.

smithax
17th January 2011, 16:31
To answer two questions on this drifting thread.

1. The Master is not responsible for every thing on the vessel. How could he be responsible for main engine being re assembled incorrectly after a repair?
When in Rotterdam we had a woopsie over the side. The Police asked who was responsible for the cargo operation. I said as Master I was, I was asked if I was in the Cargo Control Room at the time, said no., and was told how could you be responsible then. Immediately became very interested in the C/O who was in the CCR.

2. Marriages can be performed by the Master on a Liberian registered ship. As said before there is another thread somewhere.

AS

Malabar
17th January 2011, 16:48
When an accident happens it is unusual for there to be a single reason. Usually there are a whole series of checks and procedures to prevent accidents involving many people/layers. Does the buck stop ultimately with the Designated Person Ashore? Some years ago a submarine sank when alongside the jetty. Main reasons were errors by the duty watch on board. The Captain who was living ashore was Court Martialled but pleaded "not guilty" He was widely condemned by his peers who generally thought that he should have taken full responsibility as it was "his ship". Courts usually recognise mitigating circumstances ("I wasn't there" etc) and it rarely does an individual any harm professionally to stand in front of his people.

Burned Toast
17th January 2011, 19:24
If the cook poisons the crew and they all die ; is the deceased "old Man" still held liable?

Just a thought . Derek

Not me:sweat::sweat:

Ray

Tony Shaw
18th January 2011, 15:25
I didn't take early retirement and almost went to the bitter end (3 months short of turning 65), even though our crewing manager let it be known through various circles that I had taken early retirement. Cheek !.However, this was 3 years ago and retirement was, amongst other things, certainly a relief, for the reasons being discussed in this thread. Even though you have to put your trust in the heads of departments to ensure that the correct procedures are carried out prior to work, etc, and you have briefed these heads through safety meetings, etc.it is a constant worry for the master and all the time he is fearing a knock on his door to be informed of somebody having an accident. Some years ago we spent a few days in Sharpness Drydocks and all the contractors, on boarding, were 65 plus and nobody knew what a safety helmet was !!!!
Needless to say, they were soon put in the picture, but I was certainly glad toleave the drydock (especially seeing we dislodged some of the drydock coping stones with our bow thruster, which we had to use because some bod on the drydock wall decided to let go all the mooring lines !)

Klaatu83
18th January 2011, 16:24
Some years ago we spent a few days in Sharpness Drydocks and all the contractors, on boarding, were 65 plus and nobody knew what a safety helmet was !!!!
Needless to say, they were soon put in the picture, but I was certainly glad toleave the drydock (especially seeing we dislodged some of the drydock coping stones with our bow thruster, which we had to use because some bod on the drydock wall decided to let go all the mooring lines !)

It seems to me that one of the very few occasions during which the Master is actually relieved of responsibility for his ship is when the ship is passing into or out of a drydock. As I recall it, the drydock is held legally responsible from the moment the ship first "crosses the sill" going in until the last part of it "crosses the sill" on the way out. The exact time was always noted and duly entered in the log book. I would have thought that the drydock would have borne the responsibility if the ship's bow thruster damaged the dry dock while the ship was maneuvering in or out.

(Another similar special case is transiting the Panama Canal, during which the canal pilot assumes complete responsibility from the Master.)

Ian Brown
19th January 2011, 11:01
Thanks for various inputs.

Seems to me that deciding where the line is for what can reasonably be laid at the Master's door responsibilitywise is in the hands of various courts in which ever country an incident happens.
If you are lucky they will excercise some commonsense, if not God help you.

I personnaly have no problem taking responsibility for things I can have some control over but not with things I can't possibly control.
Why do I have to sign every page of the E/R Oil Record Book when I have no real means of knowing what was actually done?

Tony Shaw
19th January 2011, 17:42
Yes Ian, I concur, I was always a little apprehensive every time the chief asked me to countersign the E/R Oil Record Book

david freeman
21st January 2011, 11:19
Can anyone enlighten me as to what an "extra master" means? I sailed with two, Capt Griffiths on the Petworth, and the C/O of the British Splendour who also had an "extra" certificate

This is the highest award for a Certificate of competancy. The class1 or old Masters ticket gave the rank ( Or Class 1 Engineer or the old Chief engineers Ticket Steam and Motor ormore modern times Motor Only)- The Extra's was for knowledge by examination equivalent to a University Degree. The Extra's was awarded and used as the basic requirement for a british government (Surveyor) inspector of ships. Deck or Engine department

david freeman
21st January 2011, 11:27
I noted in a recent post there was some controversy regarding whether a Master should be criminally liable for an accident onboard.
Every Company that I am aware of defines a Master as being responsible for ensuring that all departments follow Company Procedures.
This is now taken as meaning that therefore if anything goes wrong in any department, he is responsible.

For example - if a 4th Engineer makes a wrong entry in the Oil Record Book for a transfer between E/R bilge tanks, the Master can end up in the legal dock instead of the marine one.

How can a Master ensure that everyone onboard follows procedures every day, all day?
Or does he just do his best and ride his luck. It is the ticket the marine aurthories and customs go for as no Ship without a masters ticket on board can not sail-Hence loss off earnings for the ship. There is or was a proceedure to sign a master on the ship hence while there may be another Masters Ticket on Board to theorectically sail the ship, In a foriegn port this may prove time consumming and hence again the ship is delayed. While 'GOD' is in his heaven and on his ship. the rank and duties of master are all seeing and doing. You hold the rank, get paid the money and represent not only the ship owner, charter/cargo owner and the total crew the word is law, and you must take the brickbats that come with that responsibilty.

Ian Brown
22nd January 2011, 11:18
It is the ticket the marine aurthories and customs go for as no Ship without a masters ticket on board can not sail-Hence loss off earnings for the ship. There is or was a proceedure to sign a master on the ship hence while there may be another Masters Ticket on Board to theorectically sail the ship, In a foriegn port this may prove time consumming and hence again the ship is delayed. While 'GOD' is in his heaven and on his ship. the rank and duties of master are all seeing and doing. You hold the rank, get paid the money and represent not only the ship owner, charter/cargo owner and the total crew the word is law, and you must take the brickbats that come with that responsibilty.

I first heard that arguement above when I went to sea in the late 60's and maye it is much older than that.
In my experience it assumes the Master has powers that he certainly doesn't have now and probably never had.
Surely we all 'get paid the money' so why should only the Master takes responsibility for everything.

WilliamH
22nd January 2011, 11:34
It's all a question of where the "Buck Stops", most Captains I sailed with were in a very vunerable position. Example A company has standing orders "Reduce speed in fog approching St. Lawrence" but the Captain is made to understand that if he dos'nt maintain his schedule the company will get somone who will. So the shedule is maintained, the directors of the Company have there bums covered, but if anything go wrong the Captain carrys the can.

Klaatu83
22nd January 2011, 13:26
It's all a question of where the "Buck Stops", most Captains I sailed with were in a very vunerable position. Example A company has standing orders "Reduce speed in fog approching St. Lawrence" but the Captain is made to understand that if he dos'nt maintain his schedule the company will get somone who will. So the shedule is maintained, the directors of the Company have there bums covered, but if anything go wrong the Captain carrys the can.


When I was a cadet the instructor who taught us what was then known as "The Rules of the Nautical Road" explained how the rule worked about reducing speed in fog. The rule, he said, was that you were required to reduce to a safe speed. And how fast was that? The rule didn't specify. However, he went on, if you became involved in a collision, then you were exceeding it, and the captain would be held legally accountable accordingly.

I also recall the experience of one captain I sailed with on a very large container ship that was preparing to sail from Rotterdam. The fog was so thick that you couldn't see from one side of the ship to the other, let alone from one end to the other. He had advised The Company of local conditions and asked if he could delay sailing. "That's up to you", was the reply, "but bear in mind that your schedule still stands". It was obvious that he didn't want to go, but clearly was also concerned about losing his job if he did not. Fortunately the decision was finally taken out of his hands by the Pilot, who, after mounting the bridge, took one look and declared that the ship wasn't going anywhere!

surfaceblow
22nd January 2011, 16:34
Why do I have to sign every page of the E/R Oil Record Book when I have no real means of knowing what was actually done?

While I was on the Marine Reliance the Captain did not sign a page in the Engine Room Oil Record Book. His reasoning was that he was not onboard when the page was started, but he was in attendance when the page was completed. The Hamburg Port Police gave him the chance to sign the page but he still refused so it cost 50 marks for not signing the Oil Record Book.

Joe

alan ward
16th October 2011, 10:52
A ships master cannot marry anyone (except for the duration of the voyage!!!!!!)
He can act as a Registrar (also for births and deaths).hatches,matches and dispatches
I only speak for UK and Canadian ships as I don't know if foreign ships allow it

Married for the duration of the voyage?sounds fine to me

xieriftips
16th October 2011, 16:47
Hello all present and ex masters, Is it an urban myth that the master can marry people on board at sea? (perform the marriage ceremony that is) Regards John.

As regards British ships, it is an urban myth, although that wasn't always so. However, a marriage performed on Liberian ships was. as late as 2006, recognised as valid by the Liberian administration. Although I never carried out any such marriages, I did witness one, and on a couple of occasions, had to create and submit documentation authenticating marriages which had taken place on the ship prior to me taking command. (Eats)

Andy Lavies
20th October 2011, 11:33
With marriages performed by the Captain only being valid for the duration of the voyage newly weds in the IOW ferry must needs get a move on with the consumation!

Andy

John Arton
20th October 2011, 19:50
When I was a 3rd Mate on a small general cargo ship in Sharpness the Captain did in fact perform a marriage. The first trip junior engineer had asked if his girlfriend/fiancee could come and visit the ship (along with a number of other wives) whilst we were discharging grain in Sharpness (actually we were the biggest ship ever to have entered Sharpness at that time). I returned from a very enjoyable night in Bristol to find all the on board Officers in the bar holding a stag party for the new junior. The 2nd Mate pulled me aside and let me in on the secret. The Captain had decided to have some fun with the first tripper (think a bit of the old 4 Bells came into play) and had gone round to the cabin of the junior engineer , banged on his door and demanded that both him and his girlfriend came to see him in his cabin immediatley. A slightly frightened junior engineer and girlfriend turned up at the Captains cabin to be confronted by him in his full bib and tucker and the O.L.B. open on his desk. He then questioned the junior engineer saying that when he gave permission for the girl to come on board he was under the impression that they were engaged and now he finds that they are not, what are the junior intententions towards the young lady, did he love her, was he planning to marry her, as it was inappropriate to have her staying in his cabin if they were not in a relantionship, he could not have that sort of thing going on board on his ship. The junior answered that yes he did love the girl and that he did intend to marry her.
Fine says the Captain, I have the power and will marry you tomorrow.
Thats why I returned from ashore to join in the stag party whilst the wives all held a hen party for the girl.
The next morning we all attended on the bridge in our best bib and tucker, the Captain had the bible laid out on the chart table, which was covered by the Red Ensign and a very nervous and slightly sick looking junior engineer and his girlfriend (now fiancee) came up and the Captain started the marriage ceremony. He had only got a few lines into it when we all started to beak down in tears of laughter as we all knew he had no power to perform the ceremony. The bride and groom realised they were part of a very elaborate joke and the bride made a dash for it swearing she was off home. The groom chased after her and persuaded her to return and we ended up having a great party afterwards where the bride and groom did join in. Apparantley they did marry later on, but in a church, not on the bridge of a ship in front of a crowd of shipmates
rgds
Capt. John Arton (ret'd)

M29
29th October 2011, 10:35
Hi
I sailed with one Master whoclaimed he could marry people but only beause he happended to be a Justice of the Peace in his home town and nothing to do with his position at sea.

Best wishes
Alan

muldonaich
29th October 2011, 18:12
Hi
I sailed with one Master whoclaimed he could marry people but only beause he happended to be a Justice of the Peace in his home town and nothing to do with his position at sea.

Best wishes
Alandont believe a word of it he was talking rubbish brgds kev.