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Old 27-12-2007, 20:24   #1
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Admirality Law...

I know that I read someone on this board had some experience and training in Maritime Law. I was just curious what you can and cannot do?? I always thought that as the boat owner/captain, you were essentially in charge of a little sovereign entity, you boat.

This is perhaps a very old world look at it but not sure where it stands today. I mean, a captain can even marry people in international waters, etc.. I'm also sure that a captain can eject anyone they deem fit off of their vessel.

How far am I off the mark here?? Am I still living in the "old world" of sailing??

Don't want to google it as it usually is different from written law to what really happens in the real world. I would be interested in people's knowledge on this subject.

Cheers!
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Old 01-03-2008, 20:03   #2
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Thee is a very good on-line reference for Admiralty Law at McGill University in Canada
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Old 01-03-2008, 20:04   #3
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There is a good website. Tetley's maritime & admiralty law
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Old 01-03-2008, 20:24   #4
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Nice Link!! thanks for that!!
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Old 02-03-2008, 14:31   #5
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I found the link very helpful when a foreign flagged trawler skulked out of port without paying their bill. The owner lived in BC and he was unreachable. I never once held any animus toward him...it was the delivery "captain"/"yacht manager"
who were responsible. The site was excellent in answering specific queries.
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Old 02-03-2008, 14:56   #6
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How far am I off the mark here?? Am I still living in the "old world" of sailing??
I would say you are almost totally off the mark. Actually ship captains do not have the ability to perform marriage ceremonies or at least not cermonies recognized my any civilized country. They never had it except of course in the movies like "African Queen". Maritime law is old world only in the sense that is primarily based on case law hence the complexity can be quite cumbersome and requires those specializing in that sub profession of a legal education.

The great power of ship captains largely came from the days when captains were away from the owners for many months at a time. It was then possible that abuse of crew could be justified at least until the ship returned and then there could be actions taken against the captain. Ship owners never gave up the right to hold captains accountable.
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Old 02-03-2008, 17:18   #7
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I was thinking more along the lines of having more sovereign powers in international waters (at least 25 miles off shore). I know that a captain can't marry people within that range and count for anything. I was thinking more powers such as the current whaling issues with Japan and Greenpeace. The Japanese ship immediately grabbed the guys that illegally boarded their ship and held them in their own lock-up.

Same thing when you hear on border patrol when cargo ships discover stow aways and keep them locked up until their next port.

I was just curious what the real powers are once in international waters for captains. I know that maritime laws and British Admiralty laws are still cornerstones of that system. Some of their sub-clauses are still very outdated but rarely ever used..

Again, so I've heard..
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Old 02-03-2008, 19:02   #8
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I was thinking more along the lines of having more sovereign powers in international waters (at least 25 miles off shore).
Depends if you have had too much to drink.

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I was just curious what the real powers are once in international waters for captains.
Anything goes at least until you get ashore. Won't be better than that.
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Old 02-03-2008, 19:13   #9
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I was thinking more along the lines of having more sovereign powers in international waters (at least 25 miles off shore).
Any vessel and its crew are subject to the laws of the country on whose Register of Ships the vessel is on (ie the country whose flag it sails under) while in that country's territorial water and also in international waters. They have no "sovereign" rights of their own making.

While the legislation of most countries will cover matters such as piracy which the Greenpeace example may or may not come under, just as for any citizen on land you are entitled to detain or subdue someone who you believe is a threat to yourself or your property. Of course, should that detention be unwarranted then you may be sued by them - however, I suspect if Greenpeace were to try suing the whalers for unlawful detention they would not get far as they were clearly in the wrong and the crew entitled to assume they may have also been a threat to the safe operation of the ship.

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Same thing when you hear on border patrol when cargo ships discover stow aways and keep them locked up until their next port.
I think you will find that they will only be locked up if they are considered to be a threat to the vessel, its crew or to themselves. Do you really need reminding that "Reality TV" is not actually "Reality Life" .

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I was just curious what the real powers are once in international waters for captains.
Again, so I've heard..
Well they are entitled to manage the operations of the vessel - sort of like a super truck or bus driver really but very much cleverer. Oh, yes they can also order hangings, keel haulings, floggings, locking up, etc for naughty crew members, passengers or anyone else who comes on board in international waters. They can also confer awards such as Knight of the High Seas (KHS), Captain's Orders of Merit (COM), Captains Citations (CC), etc and the recipients then entitled to be called "Sir" or place the award after their name as appropriate. Mmmm, so on reflection a little bit different to truck and bus drivers I suppose in the punishments and rewards arena - did you think anything different?
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Old 02-03-2008, 20:08   #10
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The Greenpeace case is a difficult one as according to Australian law, the Japanese ships were in Australian Antactic waters and were committing a crime under Australian law, and the activists merely clambered on board to inform the master of the vessel of this as the master refused to answer the radio contact. The Japanese do not recognise Australia's claim to these waters and the Australian government does not want to push the issue.
The activist would have a case against the master as there is footage of the crew attempting initially to throw the activists overboard, later shackling them to the rail and deliberately putting the helm hard over to submerge them. International law does not allow the mistreatment of prisoners.
Robert
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Old 02-03-2008, 20:45   #11
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Thanks guys.. I was only matching up what I've heard from fellow travelers that usually traveled with Cargo ships. They told me stories of when the ship's crew found stow-away's and held them, locked them until their next port of call. I only saw that on the border patrol show to only match what I've heard..

Trust me, I almost never believe what I see on TV!! LOL..

Thanks again for everyone's input and links.. I just keep hearing different stories from different people from around the world. Funny how almost none of them are similar.. LOL.. Oh well..

Thanks again!!!!
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Old 02-03-2008, 20:48   #12
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The Greenpeace case is a difficult one as according to Australian law, the Japanese ships were in Australian Antactic waters and were committing a crime under Australian law, and the activists merely clambered on board to inform the master of the vessel of this as the master refused to answer the radio contact. The Japanese do not recognise Australia's claim to these waters and the Australian government does not want to push the issue.
The activist would have a case against the master as there is footage of the crew attempting initially to throw the activists overboard, later shackling them to the rail and deliberately putting the helm hard over to submerge them. International law does not allow the mistreatment of prisoners.
Actually it is not just Japan that does not recognise Australia's rights to these waters (nor the claimed land either) but also every other country in the world but for four - so a rather tenuous and precious claim on Australia's part.

The four countries that do recognise Australia's claim are, and unsurprisingly they are ones that have claims of their own, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, France and Norway.

I assume that if Greenpeace, or the activists as individuals honestly believe they have a case against the whalers then they will pursue it in court, either in Australia if they wish to ignore the world's view that the waters are not territorial, or take a civil case in Japan under whose jurisdiction the vessel upon which they boarded is subject (and to which one assumes they knowingly submitted to by boarding).

You seem to be under a misunderstanding about "international law" - vessels in international waters sail under the jurisdiction of the country upon whose Register of Ships they are on ie the flag of the country it sails under not under the jurisdiction of some "international lawmaker". Any matter in "international law" is only of relevance if it is enacted within that country - as the activists were on a Japanese vessel in international waters (regardless of what the Australians may claim) they were subject to the laws of Japan.
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Old 02-03-2008, 20:55   #13
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Marriages Performed By The Master of The Vessel
are valid for
The Duration of the Voyage
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Old 02-03-2008, 21:31   #14
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That's what I thought for both replies... Thanks again!!
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