Control of the Vessel

The captain of the vessel in all non-demise charters is viewed under the admiralty law as the master of the vessel. The master of the vessel has full control and jurisdiction over the vessel’s crew, her equipment and most importantly, navigation. Prior to the embarking on a dive voyage, there should be a complete understanding between the dive shop, vessel owner and the charterer, relative to who has the final power and authority over the vessel once the voyage begins. An example of such a dispute occurs when the captain of the vessel refuses to return to shore when requested by the vessel’s guest or charterer. A clear understanding between the vessel owner and the charterer is necessary so that when situations arise, such as when a diver gets violently sea sick, there is no argument as to who has final authority to return to shore. The most serious dispute occurs when the captain of the vessel refuses to bring the vessel in when a diver is experiencing subtle symptoms of decompression illness or cerebral arterial gas embolism. Though discussed at length earlier in this booklet, the vessel owner and charterer should understand that in all situations involving diver safety the benefit of the doubt should be given to the diver.