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THE MERCHANT SHIPPING ACT.C1)

(17 & 18 Vict. cap. 104, & 18 & 19 Vict. cap. 91.)

Sections 1 to 12 contain interpretation clauses, and the functions of the Board of Trade, under whose superintendence the provisions of this Act, and of all other Acts relating to merchant ships and seamen, save such Acts as relate to the revenue, are to be carried into execution.

Officers may inspect Documents and muster Crews. —Every officer of the Board of Trade, every commissioned officer of any of Her Majesty's ships on full pay, every British consular officer, the Registrar General of Seamen and his assistant, every chief officer of Customs, and every shipping master, may, in cases where he has reason to suspect the provisions of this Act are not complied with, exercise the following powers; viz.:— He may require the owner, master, or any of the crew of a British ship to produce any official log books, or other documents relating to such crew in their possession or control: may require any such master to produce a list of all persons on board his ship, and take copies of such official log books, or documents: may muster the crew of any such ship: may summon the master to appear and give any explanation concerning such ship, her crew, or the said official log books or documents: any person refusing such demand shall, for each offence, incur a penalty not exceeding £10.—S. 13. Board of Trade may appoint Inspectors.—The Board of Trade may, whenever it seems expedient, appoint an inspector to report upon the following matters; viz.:

1. Upon the nature and cause of accident or damage which any ship has sustained or caused, or is alleged to have sustained or caused:

(!) This Act is divided into eleven parts:—Part 1, relates to the Board of Trade and its general functions.—2. To the registry, ownership, and measurement of British ships.—3. To masters and seamen.—4. To safety and prevention of accidents.—5. To pilotage.—6. To lighthouses.—7. To the mercantile marine fund.—8. To wrecks, casualties and salvage—9. To liability of shipowners.—10. To legal procedure, and 11 to miscellaneous matters. Such portions only of the said Act as are embraced in Parts 1, 2, 4 and 8, are herein published.

2. Whether the provisions of this Act, or any regulations made by virtue thereof, have been complied with:

3. Whether the hull and machinery of any steam ship are sufficient and in good condition.—S. 14.

Powers of Inspectors.—Every such inspector shall have the following powers; viz.:—

1. He may go on board any ship, and inspect the same, or any of the machinery, boats, equipments or articles on board to which the provisions of this Act apply, not unnecessarily detaining or delaying her from proceeding on any voyage:

2. He may enter and inspect any premises the entry or inspection of which may be requisite for the purpose of the report which he is directed to make:

3. He may, by summons under his hand, require the attendance of all such persons as he thinks fit to call before him and examine for such purpose, and may require answers to any inquiries he may make:

4. He may require the production of all books, papers, or documents which he considers important for such purpose:

5. He may administer oaths, or require every person examined by him to subscribe a declaration of the truth of the statements made by him in his examination.

Every witness so summoned, shall be allowed such expenses as would be allowed to any witness attending on subpoena to give evidence before any court of record. Every person refusing to attend, on tender of his expenses, shall incur a penalty not exceeding £10.—S. 15.

BRITISH SHIPS = THEIR OWNERSHIP, MEASUREMENT, AND REGISTRY.

[applicable To The Whole Of Heb Majesty's Dominions.]

Description and Ownership of British Ships.—No ship shall be deemed to be a British Ship, unless she belongs wholly to owners of the following description; viz.:— 1. Natural born British subjects: (")

Provided that no natural born subject, who has taken the oath of allegiance to any foreign Sovereign or State, shall be entitled to be such owner, unless subsequently to

(') A material alteration is made by the permission given to any natural born British subject, who has not taken the oath of allegiance to any Foreign state, to hold property in British ships, although not resident in Her Majesty's dominions.

taking such oath, he has taken the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty; and is, and continues to be, during the whole period of his so being an owner, resident in some place within Her Majesty's dominions; or, if not so resident, member of a British factory, or partner in a house actually carrying on business in the United Kingdom, or some other place within Her Majesty's dominions:

2. Persons made denizens by letters of denization, or naturalized by or pursuant to any Act of the legislature, or by any Act or ordinance of the legislative authority in any British possession: (')

Provided that such persons continue to be during the whole period of their being owners, resident in some place within H. M. dominions; or if not so resident, members of a British factory, or partners in a house actually carrying on business in the United Kingdom, or in some place within H. M. dominions, and have taken the oath of allegiance subsequently to the period of their being so made denizens or naturalized:

3. Bodies corporate established under, subject to the laws of, and having their principal place of business in the United Kingdom or some British possession.—S. 18.

'British Ships must be Registered.—Every British Ship must be B.eeistered, as follows, except

1. Ships duly registered before this Act comes into operation:

2. Ships not exceeding 15 tons burden, employed solely in navigation on the rivers or coasts of the United Kingdom; or on the rivers and coasts of some British possession within which the managing owners of such ships are resident:

3. Ships not exceeding 30 tons burden, not having a whole or fixed deck; and employed solely in fishing, or trading coastwise, on the shores of Newfoundland or parts adjacent thereto, or in the Gulf of St. Lawrence; or, on such portion of the coasts of Canada, Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick as lie bordering on such Gulf:

And no ship required to be registered shall, unless registered, be recognized as a British ship; and no officer of Customs shall grant a clearance or transire to any such ship for the purpose of enabling her to proceed to sea as a British ship, unless the master, being required so to do, produces to him such certificate of registry as is herein-after mentioned; and if such.

(J) The Secretary of State for the home department may grant a certificate of naturalization to an alien, to have effect upon bis taking a prescribed oath of allegiance. See 7 and 8 Vict., cap. 66.

ship attempts to proceed to sea as a British ship without such clearance or transire, such officer may detain such ship until such certificate is produced.—S. 19.

Measurement ofTonnage. (') Rule 1.—Throughout the following rules the tonnage deck shall be taken to be the upper deck in ships which have less than three decks, and to be the second deck from below in all other ships; and in carrying such rules into effect,all measurements shall betaken in feet and decimal fractions of feet. The tonnage of every ship to be regis

f1) During the operation of the old law of tonnage, originally established by the Act 13 George III., cap. 74, this country was. for the most part, involved in war, and as a consequence, our merchant ships sailed in fleets, under convoy. The quality of velocity in ships being, therefore, of no importance to their owners, it was their interest to build vessels which would carry the largest cargoes under the smallest register tonnage.

As the '* old law" took no account either of the depth or form of vessels, it led owners to construct their ships of the greatest depth possible, and of the most bulky forms, as well as of great breadth in proportion to their length. The general result was, that the merchant navy of that period consisted, for the most part, of deep, broad, short ships, possessing a combination of the worst qualities,—that of being at once slow, laboursome, and leewardly.

The new system of measurement, enacted by the 5th and 6th William IV., cap. 56, and consolidated by the 8th and 9th Vict,, cap. 89, took cognizance, both of the depth and form of vessels, which were totally disregarded under the w old law"; under their operation, therefore, the merchant navy became much improved.

These rules, however, embraced but few measurements, and of these, some were badly selected, or injurious. Ship builders were, therefore, enabled to form their ships so as to evade the prescribed measurement, and obtain even a decreased register tonnage, while increasing at the same time the size of the ship. The rule being also of an empirical nature, that is, arbitrarily constructed only upon certain forms of ships, could not act fairly upon other forms not taken into the account, and therefore failed to give a fair comparative tonnage in all cases. Framed, moreover, on no scientific basis, it afforded no means for the detection of errors, but by actual re-measurement, which, being a troublesome operation, was seldom resorted to.

The principal rule, or Rule I. of the present Act, intended for the purposes of the registry of British ships, prescribes a series of measurements, according to the size of the vessel, so that no alteration of the form in a vessel can be contrived to which the measurement will not practically apply. The rule being framed on mathematical principles, gives the cubical capacity in cubic feet. This being divided by 100, affords means for comparison of tonnage between ship and ship, whatever may be their forms.

It also affords a perfect check to erroneous measurement, a quality of the highest importance, and which cannot be attained by any rule empirically constructed.

Builders and owners of British ships have now, therefore, no inducement to give other forms to vessels than those adapted to their safety and expedition, and the general interests of commerce.

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tered, (with the exceptions mentioned in the next section,) shall, previously to her being registered, be ascertained by the following rule; and the tonnage of every ship to which such rule can be applied, whether she is about to be registered or not, shall be ascertained thereby: (')

1. Measure the length of the ship in a straight line along the upper side of the tonnage deck, from the inside of the inner plank (average thickness) at the side of the stem, to the inside of the midship stern timber or plank there, as the case may be; (average thickness;) deducting from this length what is due to the rake of the bow in the thickness of the deck, and what is due to the rake of the stern timber in the thickness of the deck, and also what is due to the rake of the stern timber in one third of the round of the beam; divide the length so taken into the number of equal parts required by the following table:—

Ships of which the tonnage deck is—

Class 1 50ft. long or under, into 4 equal parts.

„ 2 above 50 „ and not ex. 120 6 „
„ 3 „ 120 „ „ 180 8

„ 4 „ 180 „ „ 225 10

„ 5 „ 225 „ „ 12

2. Then, the hold being first sufficiently cleared to admit of the required depths and breadths being properly taken, find the transverse area of such ship at each point of division of the length as follows:—Measure the depth at each point of division, from a point at a distance of |rd of the round of the beam below such deck; or, in case of a break, below a line stretched in continuation thereof, to the upper side of the floor timber at the inside of the limber strake; then, if the depth at the midship division of the length do not exceed 16 feet, divide each depth into 4 equal parts; then measure the inside horizontal breadth at each of the 3 points of division, and also at the upper and lower points of the depth, extending each measurement to the average thickness of that part of the ceiling which is between the points of measurement; number these breadths from above (i.e. numbering the upper breadth one, and so on down to the lowest breadth); multiply the 2nd and 4th by 4, and the 3rd by 2; add these products together, and to the sum add the 1st breadth and the 5th; multiply the quantity thus obtained

(') The calculations of the tonnage of every foreign ship measured in London are to be checked in the office of the Surveyor-General for tonnage: a similar check to be made by collectors and controllers on the computation of foreign vessels measured at the outports.—G.O., No. 27, 1857.

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