A sea captain, ship's captain, captain, master, or shipmaster, is a high-grade licensed mariner who holds ultimate command and responsibility of a merchant vessel. The captain is responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the ship and its people and cargo, including its seaworthiness, safety and security, cargo operations, navigation, crew management, and legal compliance.
|Other names||Ship's captain, ship's master, shipmaster, captain, master|
|Duties||In charge of a merchant ship.|
|Requirements||master's license or extra master's license or commissioned officer|
The captain ensures that the ship complies with local and international laws and complies also with company and flag state policies. The captain is ultimately responsible, under the law, for aspects of operation such as the safe navigation of the ship, its cleanliness and seaworthiness, safe handling of all cargo, management of all personnel, inventory of ship's cash and stores, and maintaining the ship's certificates and documentation.
One of a shipmaster's particularly important duties is to ensure compliance with the vessel's security plan, as required by the International Maritime Organization's ISPS Code. The plan, customized to meet the needs of each individual ship, spells out duties including conducting searches and inspections, maintaining restricted spaces, and responding to threats from terrorists, hijackers, pirates, and stowaways. The security plan also covers topics such as refugees and asylum seekers, smuggling, and saboteurs.
On ships without a purser, the captain is in charge of the ship's accounting. This includes ensuring an adequate amount of cash on board, coordinating the ship's payroll (including draws and advances), and managing the ship's slop chest.
On international voyages, the captain is responsible for satisfying requirements of the local immigration and customs officials. Immigration issues can include situations such as embarking and disembarking passengers, handling crew members who desert the ship, making crew changes in port, and making accommodations for foreign crew members. Customs requirements can include the master providing a cargo declaration, a ship's stores declaration, a declaration of crew members' personal effects, crew lists and passenger lists.
The captain has special responsibilities when the ship or its cargo are damaged, when the ship causes damage to other vessels or facilities. The master acts as a liaison to local investigators and is responsible for providing complete and accurate logbooks, reports, statements and evidence to document an incident. Specific examples of the ship causing external damage include collisions with other ships or with fixed objects, grounding the vessel, and dragging anchor. Some common causes of cargo damage include heavy weather, water damage, pilferage, and damage caused during loading/unloading by the stevedores.
All persons on board including public authorities, crew, and passengers are under the captain's authority and are his or her ultimate responsibility, particularly during navigation. In the case of injury or death of a crew member or passenger, the master is responsible to address any medical issues affecting the passengers and crew by providing medical care as possible, cooperating with shore-side medical personnel, and, if necessary, evacuating those who need more assistance than can be provided on board the ship.
There is a common belief that ship captains have historically been, and currently are, able to perform marriages. This depends on the country of registry, however most do not permit performance of a marriage by the master of a ship at sea.
In the United States Navy, a captain’s powers are defined by its 1913 Code of Regulations, specifically stating: "The commanding officer shall not perform a marriage ceremony on board his ship or aircraft. He shall not permit a marriage ceremony to be performed on board when the ship or aircraft is outside the territory of the United States." However, there may be exceptions "in accordance with local laws and the laws of the state, territory, or district in which the parties are domiciled" and "in the presence of a diplomatic or consular official of the United States, who has consented to issue the certificates and make the returns required by the consular regulations."
Furthermore, in the United States, there have been a few contradictory legal precedents: courts did not recognize a shipboard marriage in California's 1898 Norman v. Norman but did in New York's 1929 Fisher v. Fisher (notwithstanding the absence of municipal laws so carried) and in 1933's Johnson v. Baker, an Oregon court ordered the payment of death benefits to a widow because she had established that her marriage at sea was lawful. However, in Fisher v. Fisher the involvement of the ship's captain was irrelevant to the outcome. New Jersey's 1919 Bolmer v. Edsall said a shipboard marriage ceremony is governed by the laws of the nation where ownership of the vessel lies.
Filipino and Spanish law, as narrow exceptions, recognise a marriage in articulo mortis (on the point of death) solemnized by the captain of a ship or chief of an aeroplane during a voyage, or by the commanding officer of a military unit.
Japan allows ship captains to perform a marriage ceremony at sea, but only for Japanese citizens. Malta and Bermuda permit captains of ships registered in their jurisdictions to perform marriages at sea. Princess Cruises, whose ships are registered in Bermuda, has used this as a selling point for their cruises, while Cunard moved the registration of its ships Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth from Southampton to Bermuda in 2011 to allow marriages to be conducted on their ships.
Some captains obtain other credentials (such as ordination as ministers of religion or accreditation as notaries public), which allow them to perform marriages in some jurisdictions where they would otherwise not be permitted to do so. Another possibility is a wedding on a ship in port, under the authority of an official from that port.
In works of fiction, ship captains have performed marriages in various media, including the 1951 film The African Queen, and episodes of The Love Boat, How I Met Your Mother, The Office (U.S. TV series) and various Star Trek series.
To become a master of vessels of any gross tons upon oceans in the United States, one must first accumulate at least 360 days of service (Recency – 90 days in the past three years on vessels of appropriate tonnage) while holding a chief mate's license. The chief mate's license, in turn, requires at least 360 days of service (Recency – 90 days in the past three years on vessels of appropriate tonnage) while holding a second mate's license, passing a battery of examinations, and approximately 13 weeks of classes. Similarly, one must have worked as a third mate for 360 days (Recency – 90 days in the past three years on vessels of appropriate tonnage) to have become a second mate.
There are two methods to attain an unlimited third mate's license in the United States: to attend a specialized training institution, or to accumulate "sea time" and take a series of training classes and examinations.
Training institutions that can lead to a third mate's license include the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (deck curriculum), and the six state maritime academies in Maine, Massachusetts, New York, Texas, or California or the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, or a three-year apprentice mate training program approved by the Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Furthermore, third mate's licenses can be obtained through the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy with approved courses and requisite sea time as an Officer in Charge of a Navigational Watch.
A seaman may start the process of obtaining a license after three years of service in the deck department on ocean steam or motor vessels, at least six months of which as able seaman, boatswain, or quartermaster. Then the seaman takes required training courses, and completes on-board assessments. Finally, the mariner can apply to the United States Coast Guard for a third mate's license.
An alternate method of obtaining a license as a master of vessels of any gross tons upon oceans, without sailing as a third, second, or chief mate, is to obtain one year of sea service as a 1st class pilot of any gross tons or mate of vessels of any gross tons upon Great Lakes and inland waters. Then pass an examination for the license of master of vessels of any gross tons upon Great Lakes and inland waters. A master of vessels of any gross tons upon Great Lakes and inland waters may, without any additional sea service, take the examination for master of vessels of any gross tons upon near coastal waters. If the candidate does not already have sufficient deep sea experience he may with six months of additional sea service, in any licensed capacity, take a partial examination consisting primarily of celestial navigation and have the near coastal restriction removed. 46CFR 11.403
A master of 1,600 ton vessels can, under certain circumstances, begin the application process for an unlimited third mate's license.
Some employers offer financial assistance to pay for the training for their employees. Otherwise, the mariner is responsible for the cost of the required training. A Chief Mate to Master formal training generally takes about 12 weeks and provides the knowledge, skills and other soft skills training to take on the duties and responsibilities.
Various US states require and issue shipmaster or captain licenses in order to be employed in operating a vessel for hire, while navigating within "non-federal" waters. (Such as a lake or river charter boat "skipper"). Most states honor a USCG master's certificate as an alternative to their state licensing. These state licenses certify that the captain has given satisfactory evidence that he/she can safely be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities of operating or navigating passenger carrying vessels of the tonnage and upon the waters specified. The state licensed captains command vessels that range from small uninspected vessels to large excursion vessels that carry over 100 passengers, so the licenses are not issued haphazardly. For example, see Washington State's Certification of Charter Boats and Operators licenses.
As of 2008, the U.K. Learning and Skills Council lists annual salaries for senior deck officers as ranging from £22,000 to over £50,000 per year. The Council characterizes job opportunities for senior deck officers as "generally good" and expects a "considerable increase" in the job market over the next few years.
As of 2013, captains of U.S.-flagged deep sea vessels make up to US$1500 per day, or US$80,000 to US$300,000 per year. Captains of smaller vessels in the inland and coastal trade earn between US$350 and US$700 per day, or US$65,000 to $180,000 per year. Captains of large ferries average US$56,794 annually.
In 2005, 3,393 mariners held active unlimited master's licenses. 87 held near-coastal licenses with unlimited tonnage, 291 held unlimited tonnage master's licenses on inland and Great Lakes waters, while 1,044 held unlimited licenses upon inland waters only. Some 47,163 active masters licenses that year had tonnage restrictions, well over half of those being for near-coastal vessels of up to 100 tons gross tonnage.
As of 2006, some 34,000 people were employed as captains, mates, and pilots of water vessels in the United States. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 18% growth in this occupation, expecting demand for 40,000 shipmasters in 2016.
Uniforms are worn aboard many ships, or aboard any vessels of traditional and organized navigation companies, and are required by company regulation on passenger and cruise vessels.
In the passenger-carrying trade a unified corporate image is often desired and it is useful for those unfamiliar with the vessel to be able to identify members of the crew and their function. Some companies and some countries use an executive curl similar to that of the Royal Navy.
In the United States, and in numerous other maritime countries, captains and officers of shipping companies may wear a merchant navy or merchant marine regular uniform in conjunction with their employment.
The term master is descended from the Latin magister navis, used during the imperial Roman age to designate the nobleman (patrician) who was in ultimate authority on board a vessel. The magister navis had the right to wear the laurus or corona laurèa and the corona navalis. Carrying on this tradition, the modern-day shipmaster of some nations wears golden laurel leaves or golden oak leaves on the visor of his cap.
A skipper is a person who has command of a boat or seacraft or tug, more or less equivalent to "captain in charge aboard ship." At sea, or upon lakes and rivers, the skipper as shipmaster or captain has command over the whole crew. The skipper may or may not be the owner of the boat.
The word is derived from the Dutch word schipper; schip is Dutch for "ship". In Dutch sch- is pronounced [sx] and English-speakers rendered this as [sk].
The word "skipper" is used more than "captain" for some types of craft, for example fishing boats.
It is also more frequently used than captain with privately owned noncommercial or semi-commercial vessels, such as small yachts and other recreational boats, mostly in cases where the person in command of the boat may not be a licensed or professional captain, suggesting the term is less formal. In the U.S., a "skipper" who is in command of a charter vessel that carries paying passengers must be licensed by a state or the USCG. If the vessel carries over six paying passengers, it must be an "inspected vessel" and a higher class license must be obtained by the skipper/master depending on the vessel's gross tons.
In the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and merchant naval slang, it is a term used in reference to the commanding officer of any ship, base, or other command regardless of rank. It is generally only applied to someone who has earned the speaker's respect, and only used with the permission of the commander/commanding officer in question.
Skipper RNR was an actual rank used in the British Royal Naval Reserve for skippers of fishing boats who were members of the service. It was equivalent to Warrant Officer. Skippers could also be promoted to Chief Skipper RNR (equivalent to Commissioned Warrant Officer) and Skipper Lieutenant RNR.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a 1954 American Technicolor adventure film and the first science fiction film shot in CinemaScope. The film was personally produced by Walt Disney through Walt Disney Productions, directed by Richard Fleischer, and stars Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Paul Lukas and Peter Lorre. It was also the first feature-length Disney film to be distributed by Buena Vista Distribution. The film is adapted from Jules Verne's 19th-century novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. It is considered an early precursor of the steampunk genre.The film was a critical and commercial success, being especially remembered for the fight with a giant squid, and Mason's definitive performance as the charismatic anti-hero Captain Nemo.Augustus van Horne Ellis
Augustus van Horne Ellis (May 1, 1827 – July 2, 1863) was an American lawyer, sea captain, and soldier. He was a brevet brigadier general in the Union Army during the Civil War, and was killed in action at the Battle of Gettysburg.Captain (naval)
Captain is the name most often given in English-speaking navies to the rank corresponding to command of the largest ships. The rank is equal to the army rank of colonel.
Equivalent ranks worldwide include "ship-of-the-line captain" (e.g. France, Argentina, Spain), "captain of sea and war" (e.g. Portugal), "captain at sea" (e.g. Germany, Netherlands) and "captain of the first rank" (Russia).
The NATO rank code is OF-5, although the United States of America uses the code O-6 for the equivalent rank (as they do for all OF-5 ranks).Carl C. Jeremiassen
Carl C. Jeremiassen (Adopted Chinese name: 冶基善, 1847–1901) was a Danish sea captain. He is known today as the first Protestant missionary to Hainan island and the translator of portions of the Old and New Testament into the Hainanese language.Coat of arms of the Falkland Islands
The coat of arms of the Falkland Islands was granted to the Falkland Islands on 29 September 1948. It consists of a shield containing a ram on tussock grass in the field with a sailing ship underneath and the motto of the Falklands (Desire the Right) below.
The ship represents the Desire, the vessel in which the English sea-captain John Davis is reputed to have discovered the Falkland Islands in 1592; the motto, Desire the Right, also refers to the ship's name. The ram represents sheep farming, which until recently was the principal economic activity of the islands, and the tussock grass shows the most notable native vegetation.Desire the Right
Desire the Right is the motto of the Falkland Islands. It makes reference to the Desire, the vessel from which English sea-captain John Davis sighted the Falkland Islands in 1592.The motto was adopted as the name of a political party which advocated rapprochement with Argentina, the Desire the Right Party, which fielded three candidates in the 1989 general election, although none were elected.Edward Smith (sea captain)
Edward John Smith, RD RNR (27 January 1850 – 15 April 1912) was a British Merchant Navy officer. He served as master of numerous White Star Line vessels. He is best known as the captain of the RMS Titanic, who perished when the ship sank on its maiden voyage.
Raised in a working environment, he left school early to join the Merchant Navy and the Royal Naval Reserve. After earning his master's ticket, he entered the service of the White Star Line, a prestigious British company. He quickly rose through the ranks and graduated in 1887. His first command was the SS Celtic. He served as commanding officer of numerous White Star Line vessels, including the Majestic (which he commanded for nine years) and attracted a strong and loyal following amongst passengers.
In 1904, Smith became the commodore of the White Star Line, and was responsible for controlling its flagships. He successfully commanded the Baltic, Adriatic and the Olympic. In 1912, he was the captain of the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic, which struck an iceberg and sank on 15 April 1912; over 1,500 perished in the sinking, including Smith, who went down with the ship. For his stoicism and fortitude in the face of adversity, Smith became an icon of British "stiff upper lip" spirit and discipline.Faustus, Abibus and Dionysius of Alexandria
Faustus, Abibus and Dionysius of Alexandria (died 250) were Christian martyrs put to death under Decius in 250.
Faustus was a priest, Abibus was a deacon, and Dionysius was a lector. They were executed with several others, who include:
Andronicus, a soldier
Cyriacus, an acolyte
Theocistus, a sea captain
Caldote.The Roman Martyrology lists only
Faustus and Macarius with 10 companions. Their feast day is celebrated on September 6.Hugh Willoughby
Sir Hugh Willoughby (died 1554) was an English soldier and an early Arctic voyager. He served in the court of Henry VIII and fought in the Scottish campaign where he was knighted for his valor. In 1553 he was selected by a company of London merchants to lead a fleet of three vessels in search of a northeast route to the Far East. Willoughby and the crews of two ships died on the voyage while the third vessel went on to open a successful and long-lasting trading arrangement with Russia.John Kendrick (American sea captain)
John Kendrick (born John Kenrick, c. 1740–1794) was an American sea captain, both during the American Revolutionary War and the exploration and maritime fur trading of the Pacific Northwest alongside his subordinate Robert Gray.Joseph Barss
Joseph Barss (21 February 1776 – 3 August 1824) was a sea captain of the schooner Liverpool Packet and was one of the most successful privateers on the North American Atlantic coast during the War of 1812.New Kid on the Block
"New Kid on the Block" is the eighth episode of The Simpsons' fourth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 12, 1992. After meeting his new neighbor, Laura, Bart develops a crush on her, only to later discover that she has a boyfriend, Jimbo Jones, whom he attempts to scare off so that he can have a relationship with Laura. Meanwhile, Homer sues the Sea Captain Horatio McCallister after being kicked out of his all-you-can-eat restaurant while still hungry. It was written by Conan O'Brien and directed by Wes Archer.Red Sky at Morning (1944 film)
Red Sky at Morning is a 1944 Australian melodrama set during the 19th century. It features an early screen performance by Peter Finch, who plays a convict who falls in love with the wife of a sea captain.Richard Grenville
Sir Richard Grenville (15 June 1542 – 10 September 1591), also spelt Greynvile, Greeneville, and Greenfield, was an English sailor who, as captain of the Revenge, died at the Battle of Flores (1591), fighting against overwhelming odds, and refusing to surrender his ship to the far more numerous Spanish. His ship, the Revenge, met 53 Spanish war ships near Flores in the Azores. He and his crew fought the fifty three in a three-day running battle. Many Spanish ships were sunk or so badly damaged that they had to retire from the battle. The Revenge was boarded three times and each time the boarders were seen off.
Grenville was lord of the manors of Stowe, Kilkhampton in Cornwall and of Bideford in Devon. He was also a soldier, an armed merchant fleet owner, privateer, colonizer, and explorer. He took part in the early English attempts to settle the New World, and also participated in the fight against the Spanish Armada. His non-military offices included Member of Parliament for Cornwall, High Sheriff of County Cork in 1569–70 and Sheriff of Cornwall in 1576–77. He was the grandfather of Sir Bevil Grenville (1596–1643) of English Civil War fame, whose son was John Granville, 1st Earl of Bath (1628–1701).Robert Gray (sea captain)
Robert Gray (May 10, 1755 – c. July, 1806) was an American merchant sea captain who is known for his achievements in connection with two trading voyages to the northern Pacific coast of North America, between 1790 and 1793, which pioneered the American maritime fur trade in that region. In the course of those voyages, Gray explored portions of that coast and, in 1790, completed the first American circumnavigation of the world. Perhaps his most remembered accomplishment from his explorations was his coming upon and then naming of the Columbia River in 1792, while on his second voyage.
Gray's earlier and later life are both comparatively obscure. He was born in Tiverton, Rhode Island, and may have served in the Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War. After his two famous voyages, he carried on his career as a sea captain, mainly of merchantmen in the Atlantic. This included what was meant to be a third voyage to the Northwest Coast, but was ended by the capture of his ship by French privateers, during the Franco-American Quasi-War, and command of an American privateer later in that same conflict. Gray died at sea in 1806, near Charleston, South Carolina, possibly of yellow fever. Many geographic features along the Oregon and Washington coasts bear Gray's name, as do numerous schools in the region.Robert Knox (sailor)
Robert Knox (8 February 1641 – 19 June 1720) was an English sea captain in the service of the British East India Company. He was the son of another sea captain, also named Robert Knox.
Born at Tower Hill in London, the young Knox spent most of his childhood in Surrey and was taught by James Fleetwood, later the Bishop of Winchester. He joined his father's crew on the ship Anne for his first voyage to India in 1655, at the age of 14, before returning to England in 1657. That year, Oliver Cromwell issued a charter granting the East India Company a monopoly of the Eastern trade, requiring the elder Knox and his crew to join the service of the Company.
The two Knoxes sailed for Persia in January 1658. They suffered the loss of the ship's mast in a storm on 19 November 1659, forcing them to put ashore on Ceylon, now Sri Lanka. The ship was impounded and sixteen of the crew, including the Knoxes, were taken captive by the troops of the Kandy king, Rajasinghe II. The elder Knox had inadvertently angered the king by not observing the expected formalities and had the misfortune to do so during a period of tension between the king and some of the European powers. Although the crew was forbidden from leaving the kingdom, they were treated fairly leniently; the younger Knox was able to establish himself as a farmer, moneylender and pedlar. Both men suffered severely from malaria and the elder Knox died in February 1661 after a long illness.
Robert Knox eventually escaped with one companion, Stephen Rutland, after nineteen years of captivity. The two men were able to reach Arippu, a Dutch fort on the north-west coast of the island. The Dutch treated Knox generously and transported him to Batavia (now Jakarta) in the Dutch East Indies, from where he was able to return home on an English vessel, the Caesar. He arrived back in London in September 1680.
During the voyage Knox wrote the manuscript of An Historical Relation of the Island Ceylon, an account of his experiences on Ceylon, which was published in 1681. Recently, this book was translated to Sinhala as "Knox Dutu Lakdiva" by Premachandra Alwis. The book was accompanied by engravings showing the inhabitants, their customs and agricultural techniques. It attracted widespread interest at the time and made Knox internationally famous, influencing Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe as well as sparking a friendship with Robert Hooke of the Royal Society. It is one of the earliest and most detailed European accounts of life on Ceylon and is today seen as an invaluable record of the island in the 17th century.
Knox became a close friend and collaborator of Robert Hooke, for whom he frequently brought back gifts from his travels. In return, Hooke took Knox to the local coffeehouses for chocolate and tobacco, then considered luxuries. On one occasion, Knox presented Hooke with samples of "a strange intoxicating herb like hemp" which he dubbed "Indian hemp" or "Bangue"; it is better known today as cannabis indica, a plant which was unknown at the time in Europe. Hooke gave an address to the Society in December 1689 in which he provided what was the first detailed description of cannabis in English, commending its possible curative properties and noting that Knox "has so often experimented it himself, that there is no Cause of Fear, tho' possibly there may be of Laughter." Knox was present when Hooke died on 3 March 1703 after a long illness and took on the responsibility of arranging his friend's burial.
Knox continued to work for the East India Company for thirteen years after his return from the East, captaining the ship Tonqueen Merchant for four further voyages to the East. He enjoyed only mixed success and quarrelled with the company, which eventually dismissed him in 1694. Four years later he set himself up on his own trading vessel, the Mary, but the venture was not a success. He returned permanently to England in 1701 and spent his retirement writing about Ceylon and his life. He died, prosperous but unmarried, at St Peter le Poer in the City of London in June 1720 and was buried at St Mary's Church, Wimbledon.Thomas Gilbert (sea captain)
Thomas Gilbert was an 18th-century British mariner.Windwagon Smith
Windwagon Smith is an American tall tale about a sea captain who traveled in a Conestoga wagon, fitted with a sail, across the Kansas prairie. The tale was the subject of a 1961 animated Walt Disney Pictures film, The Saga of Windwagon Smith.Woosung, Illinois
Woosung is an unincorporated community in Ogle County, Illinois, U.S., and is located in the far southwestern part of the county, northwest of Dixon.
Woosung was named by a railroad official who had once visited Wusong, China during his former career as a sea captain.