The duties of a ship’s master were laid down in Huddart Parker’s own Rules and Regulations – including the responsibility of ensuring each of his officers, the Chief Engineer and his subordinates also had a copy and made themselves acquainted with it.
In addition to those regulations laid down by government, as a ship’s master in the Huddart Parker Fleet, each would be responsible to the Company’s owners for not only the ‘safe navigation of his vessel but also the ‘safety and comfort of his passengers.’
It was his responsibility to ensure that his ship went to sea ‘fully found’ and provided for. In particular, this included coals, provisions, water, boats, anchors, other equipment and charts.
He was also responsible for ensuring the ship’s register and other necessary documents were on board. Ship’s articles were to be ‘made out in the proper manner and that these and all Government papers, entries in the Official Log Book, seamen’s discharges, etc., [were] in strict conformity with the “Merchant Shipping Act.”
In respect to the vessels navigation the master was to ‘use all means at [his] command to verify their position when rounding prominent points on the coast…’
During foggy weather when coasting and doubt existed as to the ship’s true course ‘her head [was to be] turned away from what was considered the direction of the land’ until an exact position could be ascertained. Masters were to ‘at all times keep well off the land, so as to have an ample margin of safety.’ Loss of time due to such action was not to be taken into consideration.
Before turning in at night the master was to write his orders together with the course he wished steered, in the Bridge Book. Each of the ship’s officers on taking charge were to read these night orders and sign them before relieving the Bridge.
The ship’s master was responsible for the safety of his ship even if a Pilot were to be on board.
Masters were prohibited from racing their steamers against any other vessels due to the inherent dangers that this might present. However, a ‘rapid passage’ could be made in the Company’s interest and nothing prevented and increase in the speed of their ship ‘in a prudent manner.’
Should any accident befall the ship, its machinery, crew, passengers or labourers, the master was to forward a full report to the Company.
A report of each voyage was to forwarded to the Company immediately the voyage terminated.
In regard to repairs, a master was not permitted to make any alterations to their ship, nor repairs, other than those that could be carried out by the crew, except when absolutely necessary, while the ship was away from ‘headquarters.
© Ralph L. Sanderson 2004-2021