Captain

The title of captain is for person who is the commander of a ship, they are the highest rankign person onboard. All ships from coastal to ocean-going. They are the end all responsible person. Sometimes the captain also can be called a Ship's Captain, Sea Captain, Master, Ship Master, or a Master Mariner. The use of the word master derives from the times of the Guilds. Where an expert in a craft was a master.
A ship can only have one captain. Others may have the license for captain, but there cannot be multiple people on the crew list as captain at the same time.

 

Duties and Responsibility

In short, the captain is responsible for; crew, ship, and cargo. In that order.

The captain has to take care of most of the paperwork, that the ship and crew is properly licensed, and complying with all the rules, from the home country of the ship and crew, of the country they are heading too, any countries territory they are passing trough, and the international rules.

He keeps track of the working hours of the crew, their wage accounts, and connected book keeping. Makes sure there are enough food and supplies on board.

When a ship arrives in port, the captain will talk to the immigration and customs and handle all the paperwork.

The captain is acting as the representive from the shipping company and/or owner onboard.

Eventho cargo operations are done by the Chief Officer, voyage planning by the Second Officer and safety maintenance by the Third officer to name a few examples, the captain is still required to check that all, and make sure the work done by others is done correctly.

In the unfortunate case that crew or passenger has to be disaplined the captain can assign fines. These fines will not go to the company, but to a charity fund connected to the shipping industry of the country. But before that happens, there usually has been contact with the office, and a termination of contract is more usual route taken for misbehaving crew.

And in addition to all that, the captain is also the ships' doctor. Having the Sickbay added to his domain.

   

Skipper

The term skipper is used for the commander of a small boat or ship, such as inland barges, and fishing boats. Also yacht owners might call themself skipper, to avoid incorrect assumption they have a captain's license.

Captain goes down with the ship

Is a saying originating in the Victorian age, when chivalry commanded that one rescued; Woman and children first.
It is not required for the captain to go down with the ship. Who would want to be a captain if it was a requirement that you'd kill your self at some point?. However, the captain is the person responsible for the crew and passengers. Therefore, he generally will only leave the ship when all others are safe, or when their own life is in so much danger that the captain really cannot stay any longer to rescue others. Due to the captain staying behind so long to save others, it happens frequently that the captain is too late to rescue himself. Keeping the myth of The Captain goes down with the ship alive in the public's mind.

Weddings

It is popular believe that captains have the authority to perform marriages. In past times, this might have been the case for a lot of countries. But in modern times only a few countries give such rights to captains. The captain can however, record births and deaths. His record of this in the ship's logbook counts as the official record of these things happening at the specified date and time.

Old man

Usually behind the captain's back, the crew refer to the captain as the old man. As they are generally the oldest person on board, because of their long career before becoming captain.

Other captains

The word captain derives from latin. And is used to indicate a person leading another group. Therefore you can find it in a lot of places. The military, fire fighers, police, sports teams and æroplane pilots

Type
Civic, Professional

Insignia

Rank insignia captain

Captain insignia by Greentubing (via wikimedia commons)


Traditionally the captain has four bars on his jacket sleeves and/or shoulders, some nations have a loop in the top one, some have crossing bars in the middle, others anchors or stars. But the four bar basis remains.


See here how the Pirate crew of the Sunset Dawn bend the captain's rank insignia to their own desires for their captain:


A ball gown fit for a pirate captain
Item | Mar 9, 2022

Rose gets invited to the Victory Ball, what does she wear?

Famous Captains in Red Sunrise:
Rose
Character | Mar 9, 2022

Young girl who ends up leading a pirate crew.


Peter James Jacobson
Character | Mar 9, 2022

Pirate captain.


See also:
Commodore
Rank/Title | Mar 8, 2022

A honourable rank within merchant navy companies.




Cover image: by Johannes Plenio

Comments

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30 Dec, 2021 17:22

I love how much I learn from your articles!

31 Dec, 2021 01:20

(: Glad you like it, I was a bit afraid I was rambling to much on this one.

31 Dec, 2021 01:56

On the contrary, I was able to share the difference between a skipper and a true captain today! I love all things historical, and especially maritime history.

9 Jan, 2022 14:52

I love all the little tidbits you add in here that people often overlook. I didn't realize Captains were also the ship's doctor. Definitely learned a lot of new things here! (It's nice to read that their responsibilities are for the crew first. It makes sense! But nice to see it's official.)

Lead Author of Vazdimet.
Necromancy is a Wholesome Science.
10 Jan, 2022 01:50

Thank you, this was not an easy article to write actually. It's been in my todo list for ages, so many ways to approach it and things to talk about. I'm glad it is so well received.