Navy Turning Civilian Support Vessel Into Warship


Ok. So it’s an unconventional setup on rigs as well. I don’t see the problem. Not every situation has a single answer.

On a simple ship with 25 souls that loads/discharges in one port, gets underway and toots on to the next port the normal setup works great.

This just isn’t one of those normal setups. At times we had several hundred souls aboard, and a bunch of departments (including but not limited to helicopters, weapons, munitions, force protection and projection, intel, communications, foreign national liaisons, drones, lasers weapons, divers…).

Most of this is outside the knowledge set of civilians. Why would a civilian, who doesn’t have the knowledge and experience in dealing with this crap, be in charge of it?

The master is in charge of the deck, supply and stewards for operations, and engineering for administration.

It’s really not as complicated as you seem to think it is.


So here is what I gather, but yes, it did evolve into what you describe.
From: Nelson’s Navy: The Ships, Men and Organization
In the Middle Ages, when ‘warships’ were typically merchant vessels (civilians) hired by the crown, the man in charge of the ship and its mariners, as with all ships and indeed most endeavours ashore, was termed the Master; the company of embarked soldiers was commanded by their own Captain.

From the time of the reforms of Henry VIII, the master was a warrant officer, appointed by the Council of the Marine (later the Navy Board) who also built and provisioned the Navy’s ships. The master was tasked with sailing the ship as directed by the captain, who fought the ship when an enemy was engaged. The captain had a commission from (and was responsible to) the Admiralty, who were in charge of the Navy’s strategy and tactics.

Then even later:
The master: the senior warrant officer, a qualified navigator and experienced seaman who set the sails, maintained the ship’s log and advised the captain on the seaworthiness of the ship and crew.

I just don’t think this is as outrageous as you might think. Granted, times have changed.


I’ve already said here the only real problem I see is a civilian master under the authority of the military CO. Make them equals and I am fine with this weird world


Only problem is the laws of war prohibit this. It is what it is.


except the ship is not “in combat” 24/7/365…I doubt very seriously it will face enemy fire but if it does then fine with the CO being in overall command. until that moment, no “master” should be under any other man’s authority aboard.

the CO and master should be equals or the master is a mate and they should call him that


First, PONCE faced two episodes of enemy fire a few months ago when guided missiles were fired at it from Yemen. Those missiles were likely provided to rebels from Iran. They were shot down by CIWS from her escorts. Otherwise PONCE’s CWIS should have shot them down.

The crew, including the civilians, got a combat action ribbon.

Second, United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea art. 29, Dec 1982. The ship either is or isn’t a warship. It can’t switch on the fly. It has to be registered and colored as such.


Yeah I think it’s the exact same plant as is installed on the ATC ships. I was referring to the COGAG/CODAD/CODOG type plants that ocrnslr talked about in his post. For those plants, I would want to learn the plant at the operational level before I’d consider taking the CE or 1AE job.


Like I wrote a long way back …


Will they have “Sick Call” every day for the “sick, lame and lazy”?


And they will be on the Binnacle List.


As long as the civilian “Master” has no legal liability unless he was directly and personally negligent and as long as the Master was the person called by the OICNW if he was in any doubt about navigation or collision avoidance then I’d be ok with the job.