Succession

I was asked tonight if there is a legal succession on a merchant ship. Say the ship’s master dies on a typical unlimited tonnage ocean ship. I assume the chief mate would be acting master.

But say the master and chief mate both die in a fire. Would the second mate be acting master or would the CHENG be the acting master as he is the senior managerial officer?

The person asking us USN and apparently they know who follows who (the person asking is twenty-seven in line). I understand that other factors, such as licenses held, may determine who actually leads but is there a legal solution somewhere in a CFR? I’ve looked a little but haven’t found one.

There was a thread on this some time (several years) ago, although I don’t recall the final outcome.

I would say the mate would still be in charge of navigation. But I think the CE has the same amount of stripes as the CM. You’d probably have to look at some WWII USMS manuals for the regulation or tradition. I don’t see a situation where one would have to pull rank on the other though. The CE would be busy restoring Propulsion, DC, and Steering. The 2/m would be communicating with PSC and the company and figuring out where to go.

[QUOTE=LI_Domer;162107]I would say the mate would still be in charge of navigation. But I think the CE has the same amount of stripes as the CM. You’d probably have to look at some WWII USMS manuals for the regulation or tradition. I don’t see a situation where one would have to pull rank on the other though. The CE would be busy restoring Propulsion, DC, and Steering. The 2/m would be communicating with PSC and the company and figuring out where to go.[/QUOTE]

Actually the CE has the same number of stripes as the Captain but that doesn’t put him next in line for command. The succession of command would go C/M, 2nd Mate, then 3rd Mate.

As a Deckie I kinda thought that was the case but wasn’t 100% sure.

[QUOTE=Chief Seadog;162122]Actually the CE has the same number of stripes as the Captain but that doesn’t put him next in line for command. The succession of command would go C/M, 2nd Mate, then 3rd Mate.[/QUOTE]

Old line merchant vessels the chief engineer would assume over all responsibility of the vessel, the chief mate would continue with his navigational/deck duties and 1st engineer the engine department until the ship reached port and a new master came on UNLESS the chief mate held a master license and the company promoted him to master for the duration of the voyage.

The MSC solution is easy. The Cheng would produce his Geneva Conventions ID card, show that his equivalent US Naval rank is higher than the 2nd’s and that would be that.

Case in point: USNS GRASP was overseas and moored outboard of some Naval vessel, which had separate p-ways to the gangway, one for officers and one for the peasants. Our Deck Engineer was challenged on using the officers’. He pulled out his GC card which showed his equivalent rank to be an officer (CPO?) and was allowed to pass.

[QUOTE=tengineer1;162125]Old line merchant vessels the chief engineer would assume over all responsibility of the vessel, the chief mate would continue with his navigational/deck duties and 1st engineer the engine department until the ship reached port and a new master came on UNLESS the chief mate held a master license and the company promoted him to master for the duration of the voyage.[/QUOTE]

What if the Chief Mate, 2nd Mate or 3rd Mate hold llicenses as Master (not uncommon in the 80s)?

Without checking, I believe that in the event of disablement of the master the C/M assumes command regardless of what level license is held. Beyond that I don’t know of any formal system. In the unlikely event that both senior deck officers were disabled presumably the crew would form some sort of ad hoc command structure sufficient to get the ship safely into port.

[QUOTE=jdcavo;162130]What if the Chief Mate, 2nd Mate or 3rd Mate hold llicenses as Master (not uncommon in the 80s)?[/QUOTE]

I would imagine the company would tell the chief mate he was the master until they reached port, unless they liked one of the other licensed masters more.

[QUOTE=tengineer1;162134]I would imagine the company would tell the chief mate he was the master until they reached port, unless they liked one of the other licensed masters more.[/QUOTE]

CFR 46 § 10.107 Definitions in subchapter B

Chief mate means the deck officer next in seniority to the master and upon whom the command of the vessel will fall in the event of incapacity of the master.

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;162132]Without checking, I believe that in the event of disablement of the master the C/M assumes command regardless of what level license is held. .[/QUOTE]

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;162135]CFR 46 § 10.107 Definitions in subchapter B[/QUOTE]

Considered together these bring to mind Joesph Heller and/or Abbott & Costello.

[QUOTE=jdcavo;162136]Considered together these bring to mind Joesph Heller and/or Abbott & Costello.[/QUOTE]

That’s a lot of ground. I can’t think where the intersection between the two is? However I wonder if this is one of those things that are less funny when you understand it?

[QUOTE=tengineer1;162125]Old line merchant vessels the chief engineer would assume over all responsibility of the vessel, the chief mate would continue with his navigational/deck duties and 1st engineer the engine department until the ship reached port and a new master came on UNLESS the chief mate held a master license and the company promoted him to master for the duration of the voyage.[/QUOTE]

Friend of mine sent me this after reading this thread.

In the British Merchant service, the Captain and Chief Engineer are of
equal rank, and in the event of the death or incapacity of the Captain
the Chief Engineer will assume command.

Many USA companies adopted the UK succession plan he tells me and guesses it was due to the underwriters. Who knows? Not important anyway as it seems there are tons of mates with master license nowadays.

I find this thread somewhat amusing. That said one must understand that the organizational structure aboard merchant ships is not the same as that aboard naval vessels. Most officers on navy ships are unrestricted line officers. Note the star on their shoulder boards or uniform sleeves. After the captain, it would be the exec. After that it would be next senior in rank assuming they were all line officers. That is why on navy ships CPO’s are the ones who generally have with the greater operational experience in their respective departments. They don’t rotate around like the officers do.

On merchant ships the path to command is the deck department. Their insignia is a fouled anchor. Engineers wear a propeller. The 2 are different for a reason and illustrate separate career paths. It is only on the old tv show “The Love Boat” where you will find Pursers or was it the bar tender to be next in line for ship command because they wore a bunch of stripes on their uniform.

[QUOTE=tengineer1;162140] Friend of mine sent me this after reading this thread.

In the British Merchant service, the Captain and Chief Engineer are of
equal rank, and in the event of the death or incapacity of the Captain
the Chief Engineer will assume command.

Many USA companies adopted the UK succession plan he tells me and guesses it was due to the underwriters. Who knows? Not important anyway as it seems there are tons of mates with master license nowadays.[/QUOTE]

HELL! Scotty could and would step into Kirk’s chair in a Edinburgh moment

and be a DAMNED fine captain when he did!

[QUOTE=Kennebec Captain;162137]That’s a lot of ground. I can’t think where the intersection between the two is? However I wonder if this is one of those things that are less funny when you understand it?[/QUOTE]

The circular logic of Catch 22 and equally clarifying “who’s on first” routine would seem at least an amusing perspective from which to view this discussion.

[QUOTE=Chief Seadog;162122]Actually the CE has the same number of stripes as the Captain but that doesn’t put him next in line for command. The succession of command would go C/M, 2nd Mate, then 3rd Mate.[/QUOTE]

This is correct. Rank and succession of command are two different things. It seems counterintuitive but the captain and C/E have equal rank but the captain is in command with the C/M second in command. The captain wouldn’t take over the E/R if something happened to the Chief, the first would.

Take a look at the typical emergency station bill. Both lifeboats have mates in charge of the launching and command of the boat regardless of which boat the C/E is in.

Not to say that whoever is in command isn’t going to rely upon the expertise of the engine department but that’s always the case.

3rd Mate = 4th Captain I’m sure between the two of us we can get her to the barn.

Everyone knows the chief runs the boat, regardless. We just let the captain drive…