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Navy CP - June 1903

Corpun file 13434


The Times, London, 6 June 1903

The German Mercantile Marine.


Our Berlin Correspondent writes:--

Press cuttingAt a time when considerable attention is being given at home to the position of the British mercantile marine, it may be useful to give an outline of the Seeordnung, or new code of regulations determining the relation of the German merchant seaman to his employer and his officers which came into force on April 1 last. The new code has in several respects -- notably in respect of the hours of labour and in the provision for sickness or accident -- improved the position of the forecastle hand. The great shipping companies regard with some concern innovations which they fear will not, from the commercial point of view, represent a step in advance; and the working of the code will be watched with considerable interest.

Press cuttingThe code tabulates the grounds which justify a captain in dismissing a seaman, or a seaman in demanding his discharge. If a ship is bound for a port infested with plague, yellow fever, or cholera, and this fact was not communicated to the seaman at the time of his engagement, he may demand his discharge. On provision of a substitute he may claim release from his engagement in order to present himself for nautical examinations. Out of German waters a seaman cannot, unless the vessel changes her flag, give up his duties, against the captain's will, without application to a registry office, the functions of which are performed in foreign countries by the German consulates.

The captain is empowered to take such measures as he may deem necessary to maintain discipline in his ship; but he must not in ordinary cases impose fines or confinement, restrict rations for more than three days, or employ corporal punishment. In the event of repeated disobedience to orders he may, if necessary, inflict corporal punishment, or put a man in irons.

The code concludes with a list of penalties which may be imposed by the Courts upon officers, seamen, and owners for offences which constitute a breach of the contract of employment, and for conduct which may imperil the safety of the vessel or the health of the ship's company. [...]

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