September 2011 | nautilusint.org
| telegraph | 17
Mastering the claim to be called captain
In response to your recent reader’s letter (August Telegraph) headlined ‘This title has been earned’, those of us with a lengthy period of service within merchant fl eets are well aware that the title of ‘Captain’ has never been approved for civilian use and those who choose to address themselves away from their workstation with this rank display themselves with arrogance, albeit harmlessly.
It is the derogatory and
insulting nature of this particular letter towards the passport authorities that I will take issue with and I feel that the editorial staff of the Telegraph should have addressed prior to allowing its publication. Scrutinising passport applications is a frontline to our national security; public service offi cials involved in this will generally have a far higher academic requirement than any seafaring certifi cation demand, and it is certainly to their credit that a false entitlement claim was discovered. It is these ‘sad individuals’ that we have to thank for invigilating our borders against unwanted immigrants, and terrorist activists. I would hope that this
member’s letter will be treated with the contempt that it deserves. NAME & No SUPPLIED
Having qualifi ed as a Master Mariner and becoming employed onboard a vessel in the ‘rank’ of Captain, a serving offi cer is addressed as such.
Those in the Armed Forces who are commissioned by and swear allegiance to the Monarch are thereafter addressed by their commissioned rank. Over 20 years ago I was appointed a Justice of the Peace, and before a judge swore an oath to the Queen. In court I am addressed as ‘your worship’ — but only in court.
Would those master mariners feeling so peeved ever address me as such at all other times? Being employed for over 40 years in the merchant marine, I have served with many master mariners whom I address as captain socially. Similarly, I have worked for many chief engineers whom I still address as ‘chief’ — they too have earned it. That is my choice! DAVID N. BROWN JP mem no (rtd) 146196
THE VIEW FROM MUIRHEAD
need to change their title. And I don’t hear chief engineers whingeing about not being allowed to change their title from Mr to C/E.
If some of you guys that are sensitive about it feel the need for the world to recognise your ‘outstanding achievements’ and you have a Class 1 ticket, then put the letters MM after your name. That, after all, is what you really are. A Master Mariner employed as a ship’s master. It’s just a job guys. Get over it. IAN NICHOLSON mem no 170178
The old ‘Call me Captain’ cry from the heart surfaces occasionally, and I really cannot resist responding. If one establishes the baseline for discussion, the title captain is a job description. Other than by assumption, no such rank exists in the Merchant Navy, and as we all know, the qualifi cation is Master Mariner — an honourable distinction. The question must be asked,
who needs to prefi x his name with an assumed title in order to impress (if that will be the case) those who are unaware of the status of such a prefi x? After all, if one is secure in one’s abilities and achievements, there is no need to adopt this rather controversial title. The need for such a prefi x might suggest insecurity, and the need for a consistent ego stroke. Whilst I may agree with member 148174 with regard to the use of bogus titles, I feel he should have a care in this matter, as the title he uses to prefi x his name could be termed as bogus outside the context of actually being employed as a ship master. This may appear pedantic; however the rank does not have any legal status unless applied to the above.
The question is also raised as to the use of such a prefi x when applied to qualifi ed master mariners who have never held command. How are they to be styled, as they have never been addressed as captain or earned the perceived respect? (I have some diffi culty with this concept of so-called earned titles automatically assuming respect,
as if it is some package deal handed out with a qualifi cation). One solution for the needy
might be to completely rename MN ranks with those similar to the RN, so that master becomes Captain (Ex), chief engineer, Captain (E) chief offi cer, Commander (Ex), second engineer, Commander (E) and so on through the ranks. This reassignment might also serve to encourage shipowners to promote chief engineers to masters of vessels. Holders of such ranks could then use the relevant suffi xes followed by MN (Rtd). I note the opinion of T.J.
Sax in which he attributes the wearing of laurel leaves as peak adornment on a master’s cap, and the use of the title captain, to a decision made by the government in 1916. My research into this matter concludes that this opinion is as apocryphal as the tale of the purple cloth between MN engineers’ braids. Moving swiftly to the matter of uniforms, readers of the Daily Telegraph and/or the Daily Mail, may have seen a rather un-amusing article. This featured a character dressed in a MN uniform (master or chief engineer), standing on the bridge of a barge converted into a WW2 U-boat look-alike. The Mail article described the uniform as that of a Nazi U-boat offi cer! I trust that the locals who pelted the ridiculous craft with veggies and mayonnaise have MN connections! mem no 186001 Chief Engineer MN (Rtd)
The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society
Providing quality residential, nursing, dementia and respite care primarily for seafarers and their dependants. If you know of someone that needs our help please contact us.
Chief Executive, Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt OBE, at Head Office, Weston Acres, Woodmansterne Lane, Banstead, Surrey SM7 3HA.
Phone 01737 353763 Fax 01737 362678 www.royalalfredseafarers.com
Reg Charity No 209776 Est 1865
As an engineer and therefore unburdened as to which title I use, may I add my late father’s view to the recent debate? As a military man of some 25 years, he was always of the opinion that if titles, along with medals, had not been given by the monarch they were not to be used or worn.
Good advice I think.
JEFF ARGENT mem no 147433
I haven’t been able to stop myself having a good old chuckle at
these ‘Captains’ who seem so offended that the Passport Offi ce will not allow them to use the title of Captain. It has always annoyed me the way that the title is used and abused. I believe that the Passport Offi ce is quite correct. Since achieving the rank of master I have never attempted to call myself captain outside of the confi nes of my vessel. As far as I am concerned I am just plain old Mr. I just happen to be a Mr that has qualifi ed as a Master Mariner. When I am asked for details of my employment, I describe myself as a ‘merchant ship’s master’. As far as I am concerned, in Merchant Navy context, the term captain is purely a term sometimes used onboard. In fact there are people who, without any prompting from me, will refer to me as master rather than captain, even when trying to attract my attention, and I am more than happy with that. It is, after all, what I am.
The thing that most annoys me is the number of people who refer to themselves as captain even though they have never in their lives been in command of a vessel. They moved ashore long before achieving those ‘dizzy’ heights. Close behind them are those that did the one-off ‘Call me captain’ trip, usually of only a few weeks duration. And anyway, if we were allowed to offi cially change our title from Mr to Captain how would we decide who would qualify? A signifi cant number of master mariners never sail in command, whereas there are those who never attained master mariner status who have sailed in command.
As far as wartime heroics are concerned, we will always appreciate the efforts of those concerned and live in their debt. But there were many brave people — probably some who have never even been recognised — who don’t seek special treatment. What makes ships’ masters a special case? There are many people who achieve higher qualifi cations than ours who don’t feel the
I was interested to read Captain Sax’s letter in the August Telegraph on the subject of the title ‘Captain’. I have been lucky, but several of my old shipmates have been challenged on calling themselves ‘Captain’. The ‘Captain’ bit comes up
in several ways, such as letters from people who knew us in our seafaring days or at some event where one is introduced to give a talk or to open proceedings. I am proud of my old job, and happy when recognised in this way. But I do not push it, as some people appear to have suggested. In passing, I would mention one senior person in my old company — an ex-Army man who always put himself down as Mister as he felt there was too much made of wartime ranks and titles. He was a good employer and a retired Colonel of Ghurkhas. That really was something! At a meeting of the Merchant
Mariners Association committee on HQS Wellington, this subject came up briefl y. I, as a not very effi cient learner chairman, quoted in passing the famous words of a play or poem — said in a Devonish accent — ‘I be captain of the good ship Mary Anne, of which I be master under God.’ This was well received by the committee (I be 87!) — all of whom appeared to be 10 to 20 years younger than me. My letter has no intention of unkindness to those retired or in shipping positions where use of the Captain prefi x is a necessity. I was proud to have known and worked with some of these, and happy they were ‘Captain for life’ to me.
PETER GOODWIN Merchant Mariners Association
Following my retirement from the Port of London Authority in 1995 I was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order. Some time after my investiture I received a Warrant, signed by both HM The Queen and HM The Queen Mother, which described me as being a ‘Master in our Merchant Navy’ and addressing me as ‘Captain’. I would suggest that my
warrant may well put the royal seal of approval of shipmasters being given the title of Captain? A.J. BULL Hon Retired Member
YOUR LETTERS telegraph
STAFF editor: Andrew Linington deputy editor: Debbie Smith production editor: June Cattini reporter: Sarah Robinson web editor: Matthew Louw
ADVERTISING Century One Publishing Limited Alban Row, 27-31 Verulam Road St Albans, Hertfordshire AL3 4DG Sales: Sean Power tel: +44 (0)1727 739 183 fax: +44 (0)1727 893 895 email: sean@ centuryonepublishing.ltd.uk
Although the Telegraph exercises care and caution before accepting advertisements, readers are advised to take appropriate professional advice before entering into any commitments such as investments (including pension plans). Publication of an advertisement does not imply any form of recommendation and Nautilus International cannot accept any liability for the quality of goods and services off ered in advertisements. Organisations off ering fi nancial services or insurance are governed by regulatory authorities and problems with such services should be taken up with the appropriate body.
Incorporating the merchant navy journal and ships telegraph
ISSN 0040 2575
Published by Nautilus International Printed by College Hill Press Limited 37 Webber Street, London SE1 8QW.
GENERAL SECRETARY Mark Dickinson MSc (Econ)
1&2 The Shrubberies George Lane, South Woodford London E18 1BD tel: +44 (0)20 8989 6677 fax: +44 (0)20 8530 1015 www.nautilusint.org
NETHERLANDS OFFICE Schorpioenstraat 266 3067 KW Rotterdam Postbus 8575, 3009 AN Rotterdam tel: +31 (0)10 4771188 fax: +31 (0)10 4773846
NORTHERN OFFICE Nautilus House, Mariners’ Park Wallasey CH45 7PH tel: +44 (0)151 639 8454 fax: +44 (0)151 346 8801
DEPARTMENT EMAILS general:
central services: email@example.com
professional and technical: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nautilus International also administers the Nautilus Welfare Fund and the J W Slater Fund, which are registered charities.
| Page 2
| Page 3
| Page 4
| Page 5
| Page 6
| Page 7
| Page 8
| Page 9
| Page 10
| Page 11
| Page 12
| Page 13
| Page 14
| Page 15
| Page 16
| Page 17
| Page 18
| Page 19
| Page 20
| Page 21
| Page 22
| Page 23
| Page 24
| Page 25
| Page 26
| Page 27
| Page 28
| Page 29
| Page 30
| Page 31
| Page 32
| Page 33
| Page 34
| Page 35
| Page 36
| Page 37
| Page 38
| Page 39