Captain or sea captain
CAPTAIN or SEA CAPTAIN, mar. law. The name given to the master or commander
of a vessel. He is known in this country very generally by the name of
master. (q.v.) He is also frequently denominated patron in foreign laws and
2. The captains in the navy of the United States, are officers appointed by government. Those who are employed in the mercantile service, have not strictly an official character. They are appointed or employed by the owners on the vessels they command.
3. It is proposed to consider the duty of the latter. Towards the owner of the vessel he is bound by his personal attention and care, to take all the necessary precautions for her safety; to, proceed on the voyage in which such vessel may be engaged, and to obey faithfully his instructions; and by all means in his power to promote the interest of his owner. But he is not required to violate good faith, nor employ fraud even with an enemy. 3 Cranch, 242.
4. Towards others, it is the policy of the law to hold him responsible for all losses or damages that may happen to the goods committed to his charge; whether they arise from negligence, ignorance, or willful misconduct of himself or his mariners, or any other person on board the ship. As soon, therefore, as goods are put on board, they are in the master's charge, and he is bound to deliver them again in the same state in which they were shipped, and he is answerable for all losses or damages they may sustain, unless it proceed from an inherent defect in the article, or from some accident or misfortune which could not be prevented.
5. It may be laid down as a general rule, that the captain is responsible when any loss occurs in consequence of his doing what he ought not to do, unless he was forced by the act of God,. the enemies of the United States, or the perils of the sea.1 Marsh. Ins. 241; Pard. n. 658.
6. The rights of the captain are, to choose his crew as he is responsible for their acts, this seems but just, but a reasonable deference to the rights of the owner require that he should be consulted, as he, as well as the captain, is responsible for the acts of the crew. On board, the captain is invested with almost arbitrary power over the crew, being responsible for the abuse of his authority. Ab. on Shipp. 162. He may repair the ship, and, if he is not in funds to pay the expenses of such repairs, he may borrow money, when abroad, on the credit of his owners or of the ship. Abb. on Sh. 127-8. In such cases, although contracting within the ordinary scope of his powers and duties, he is generally responsible as well as the owner. This is the established rule of the maritime law, introduced in favor of commerce it has been recognized and adopted by the commercial nations of, Europe, and is derived from the civil or Roman law. Abbott, Ship. 90; Story, Ag. Sec. 116 to 123, Sec. 294; Paley, Ag. by Lloyd, 244; 1 Liverm. Ag. 70; Poth. Ob. n. 82; Ersk. Inst. 3, 3, 43; Dig. 4, 9, 1; Poth. Pand. lib. 14, tit. 1; 3 Summ. R. 228. See Bell's Com. 505, 6th ed; Bouv. Inst. Index, h.t.