It is hard to believe that the Oceanos sank 19 years ago, anyhow it is time I updated my blog, so here goes.
By far the most enquiries I have received from people who viewed my blog relate to the actions of the captain, so I will include an interesting article I located on the internet which relates to the duties of the captain on a sinking ship.
"Federal statues impose few specific requirements on a merchant ship's captain following a casualty. The shipping laws of the United States and most other nations do contain a "Standby Act," which requires the captain of a ship involved in a collision or other incident with another vessel to stand by and render such assistance as the ship is capable of. However no statute or regulation specifically addresses the captain's duty to his own ship in the event of a sinking.
Nevertheless, the captain's duty to remain with his ship until the end is recognized. The Merchant Marine Officers Handbook, for example, lists the duties of a master following a casualty. According to the hand-book the master is:
1. The last man to leave the vessel;
2. Bound to use all reasonable efforts to save everything possible (ship and cargo ), through aid of salvage, if necessary;
3. Responsible for return of the crew;
4. Responsible for communicating promptly with owners and underwriters;
5. In charge until lawfully suspended.
Federal case law largely echoes this handbook. Courts have ruled that a captain's duty "includes doing, at all times, everything possible to preserve the vessel." And "even though the so-called duty of a captain to go down with his ship exists more in fiction than in fact, there can be no doubt that he must risk even that, in some measure, if by remaining aboard he may be able to save her".
The duties imposed on merchant vessel captains are enforced in a number of ways. Captains who fail in their duty to the ship's owner or passengers will likely find that - like Jim in Conrad's novel - the only available work is a position as water clerk. In addition, any licensed mariner who is found to have committed an act of misconduct, negligence, or incompetence in his duties may face license suspension or revocation proceedings. Finally, the master may find himself facing a variety of lawsuits.
Maritime law and naval regulations and custom impose a broadly defined duty on captains of ships involved in casualties to attempt to save their ship if at all possible. Failing that, the captain must remain in command at all times and do his best to ensure the safety of any passengers and crew members in abandoning ship and effecting rescue. To accomplish this, the captain must remain aboard his vessel until all passengers and crew are evacuated or accounted for. At that point, the wise ship's captain will no doubt conclude that it is better to "live and fight another day" than go down with the ship.
This is an excerpt. The original article was written by Craig Allen, a Coast Guard attorney presently serving as commanding officer of the Coast Guard cutter Resolute.