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Old 22-10-2014, 04:29   #1
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USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

I was out for a daysail a bit ago and had aboard a new crew member. He holds a USCG captain's license. I am owner/skipper and am experienced but not licensed. After we were underway, he said something along the lines of, "Let's not have a wreck, because I will be held responsible." I took notice of his statement and inquired why? He said that he is responsible because in an impending accident, as a Licensed Captain, he is expected to assume command of the vessel. I let it go at that and we were able to safely complete our sail in spite of my pitiful unlicensed leadership. I do not know what was behind his statement- my assumption was that he was insecure aboard a new vessel and trying to establish his credibility.

As might be imagined, his statement was concerning. I MIGHT have an issue with someone trying to take command in a crisis unless I am incapacitated. My main inquiry is if his statement is factual. Such an expectation would seem to bring about doubt as to who is in charge when uncertainty is least wanted. I am sure there are lots of licensed captains here. Anyone hear of this?
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Old 22-10-2014, 04:51   #2
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as crew

Only an opinion (I'm licensed by the Danish authorities) I can't imagine he would be held responsible (unless, of course, he was at the helm and you(the skipper) was below.

What should he do if you pilot the boat into a harzardous situation? Knock you out and take "command"? Shoot you and take command?

No, He would give you advice- like "Hell no! do NOT turn to port- Turn to starboard!"

But if you choose not to follow it - you're the skipper (and it is your boat) he is only crew.
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Old 22-10-2014, 05:00   #3
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as crew

There have been some "notorious" cases in the aviation world where the person with the most ratings was held responsible for an accident including one where the most rated guy was in the back seat.

In the boating world where a license is not required I would cal BS but I don't have any facts to back it up.

Will be interesting to see how this thread proceeds...
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Old 22-10-2014, 06:02   #4
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as crew

Maybe not held legally responsible, but most likely one of those, "you were on board, how could you let that happen", a civil court may find him liable.
In the aviation thing, unless giving instruction etc. the more senior person is not responsible as they are not Pilot in Command, example when you take your instrument rating checkride, you are not allowed to fly in instrument conditions, the reason is your the Pilot in Command, not the checkpilot and your not instrument rated, so no instrument flight allowed, but during training you can fly in instrument conditions if the instructor assumes the role of Pilot in Command, sound complicated doesn't it? It all has to do with who is accepted to be in charge, there does need to be a clear cut understanding of that.

Anyway all that and the rules have nothing to do with civil courts that may well find anything they want, to include that your CG Captain be held liable for whatever happened. I bet that was what he meant, whether or not he realizes it.
Civil courts love NTSB findings that say something like Instructor / Captain etc failed to take control of the aircraft / vessel in time to prevent the accident.
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Old 22-10-2014, 06:08   #5
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as crew

What do they say about three useless items aboard a sailboat? Well, you happened to have at least one of the items aboard yours.
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Old 22-10-2014, 06:37   #6
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as crew

Quote:
Originally Posted by a64pilot View Post
In the aviation thing, unless giving instruction etc. the more senior person is not responsible as they are not Pilot in Command,
I knew I shouldn't have brought up the aviation thing. This quote -

"Where a person is seated in the aircraft, and even whether a person lacks qualifications, is not necessarily relevant in the determination of who is the pilot in command."

Comes from this article.

Florida Bar - PIC

Who is PIC is very complicated. I spent about 7 years on the Aviation forums - this came up a lot - kinda like anchor threads.

Anyway on a boat? I think the civil courts decide after the fact who is skippering and it usually boils down to who is steering the boat - in a non-professional, non-commercial setting.
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Old 22-10-2014, 06:42   #7
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

I had a drunken a-hole try to do the same last summer as a guest on our boat, he claimed to be an experienced delivery captain. Turned out the only thing he'd ever delivered was his own boat down to the pump-out station at the end of his pier to empty his own S&%t... which he seemed to be full of.

It was a PITA to get rid of him... never again, screen your guests well.

You are the skipper on your own vessel, if one of your guests isn't comfortable with the idea, drop them off immediately. I almost ended up on the public beach thanks to the idiot and another time... nearly run over by a huge fishing boat. Rid yourself of the problem individual immediately, don't wait like I did.

If the S&%t ever ends up hitting the fan while someone like you describe is onboard, you'll really have problems because they won't listen, they'll argue and then you'll begin to question yourself... a very dangerous situation.

Ken
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Old 22-10-2014, 07:10   #8
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

If your boat were to get in an accident they are going to go after the owner/operator. If he was at the helm he would be named in any law suit but you being the owner is where the "money" is.

Also having someone like that onboard who thinks they know everything or have to be in charge tends to lead to one of my biggest annoyances. In an urgent/emergency situation they are the one's that respond to an order with "Why?" instead of just reacting. (i.e. TURN TO PORT NOW! "Why?" and then the collision happens)
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Old 22-10-2014, 07:49   #9
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

The best place to ask that question about liability or responsibility is the enforcement branch at your USCG district office.

However; from the Maritime Institute:

Q: Am I liable or do I carry additional responsibility for what happens aboard a vessel on which I am a passenger?

A: You have no additional responsibility because you are a captain aboard a vessel operated by someone else. If something happens involving a vessel you are operating, you have exactly the same liability as before you obtained your license. The only difference is that you may lose your license.


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Old 22-10-2014, 08:46   #10
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

I am a licensed USCG Master, ASA instructor and have taught USCG licensing courses (6 pack, masters, towing and sail). There is one, count 'em, one, master of each vessel no one is required to be licensed for anything as long as the vessel's passengers are not paying for the boat ride.
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Old 22-10-2014, 09:27   #11
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kenomac View Post
...

If the S&%t ever ends up hitting the fan while someone like you describe is onboard, you'll really have problems because they won't listen, they'll argue and then you'll begin to question yourself... a very dangerous situation.

Ken
+1

I've carried papers for decades, ridden as guest on probably hundreds of boats, and never once made the type of announcement your guest made. If he really had the sea time required to get his license then he'd realize there is only one captain on the vessel. Given time I might counsel my host in the event I see an impending problem (as any good first/second officer should do), but if the problem is here/now I'd follow orders to try and make sure his/her intended actions get completed. Might change my tune if I really seriously thought there was a significant risk to life or safety and the intended action was not protective of that, but that has nothing to do with being "licensed" and everything to do with self preservation.

Living in the US, I would fully expect to be named in a lawsuit along with everyone else, and when it came out that I had papers I'm sure it would make it that much more difficult to get clear regardless of the theoretical non-responsibility.
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Old 22-10-2014, 09:27   #12
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlwaysFORSAIL View Post
There is one, count 'em, one, master of each vessel no one is required to be licensed for anything as long as the vessel's passengers are not paying for the boat ride.
That was always my thought
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Old 22-10-2014, 09:57   #13
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

Would he be liable... Maybe it is somewhat fact specific. But I can't think generally he would be.

However if he tried to wrest posession or command of the vessel from its legal operator (ie owner) he would have committed Mutiny.

Mutiny occurs: When one or more members of the crew unlawfully and with force, or by fraud, or intimidation, usurps the command of a vessel from the master or other lawful officer in command thereof, or deprives the master of authority and command on board, or resists or prevents the master in the free and lawful exercise of the vessel, or transfers such authority and command to another not lawfully entitled. (See 18 U.S.C. 2193). (As summarized by the US State Department http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/86728.pdf )
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Old 22-10-2014, 10:05   #14
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

Quote:
Originally Posted by ontherocks83 View Post
If your boat were to get in an accident they are going to go after the owner/operator. If he was at the helm he would be named in any law suit but you being the owner is where the "money" is.

Also having someone like that onboard who thinks they know everything or have to be in charge tends to lead to one of my biggest annoyances. In an urgent/emergency situation they are the one's that respond to an order with "Why?" instead of just reacting. (i.e. TURN TO PORT NOW! "Why?" and then the collision happens)

Collision is less likely if you turn to starboard
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Old 22-10-2014, 10:11   #15
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Re: USCG Licensed Captain as Crew

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Collision is less likely if you turn to starboard
I knew someone was going to pick apart my example, but you are also proving my point that if you don't listen it could be too late becuase you "know" starboard is better. In my defense I also didn't say what we were colliding with or in what orientation. Could be another ship or even an ice berg
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