«Along with the change from coal to oil as a fuel, the engine room was moved from the aft to amidships. The Three-Island Tramp Steamer is a standard ...»
Steam ships used for merchant trade come in several sizes and use either coal or oil as fuel.
Coal was used before the transition to oil and the amount of coal that could be carried initially
limited the range a ship could travel. A coal burning ship is also affected by the quality of the
available coal. A tramp steamer typically travels at 10 knots, to average 12 to 13 knots it takes
about double the horsepower and, therefore, double the fuel. Lower quality coal lowers the “break even” point to even less than 10 knots.
Along with the change from coal to oil as a fuel, the engine room was moved from the aft to amidships.
The Three-Island Tramp Steamer is a standard design developed by the American Board of Shipping in 1917 as a general purpose cargo vessel for use in moving supplies for the war effort.
Unfortunately, the first one was not completed until 1919, and thus never saw action during World War I.
"Three-Island" refers to the appearance of individual, raised structures at the bow, amidships, and the stern. Built in vast numbers at the beginning of the 1900's, this class of ship is still in service today. The engines were installed in the centre section, along with most of the accommodation, which was to assist with the stability of the vessel. When first built, most of the type had an open bridge on an exposed platform. This was later modified to the raised enclosed type, which came into service during the 1920's.
Two dry stores spaces are located forward and aft. Upper deck layout include bo’sun/carpenter stores forward and a deck house aft that serves as a crew's quarters. The wheelhouse, chart room, captain's quarters, officers' rooms and a radio room are on the bridge deck. Decks are of wood above the bridge deck and on the after deck house. Forecastle house and bridge house bulkheads are likewise wood. Collision bulkheads divide the ship and give strength. Oil fuel is stored in tanks like the sea water ballast tanks. Coal is stored in coal bunkers. Lateral stability is maintained by ballast tanks and longitudinal trim by the fore and the aft peak tanks.
White navigation lights are mounted on the main masts with green lights on the starboard (right) side and red lights on the port (left) side of the ship.
Compiled by Greentongue 5/4/2008
The Chain of Command:
Tramp oil steamers average 10 to 25 crew members. A typical deep-sea merchant ship has a captain, three deck officers or mates, a chief engineer and three assistant engineers, a radio operator, plus six or more sailors such as able bodied seamen, firemen, and cooks or food handlers. The size and service of the ship determine the number of crewmembers for a particular voyage. Coal steamers need a much larger crew, with additional firemen to handle the coal.
Captain: (10 shares) Captains (or Masters) are in overall command of their vessels, supervising safety, navigation and the crew. They determine their ships' speed, continuously monitor their position using charts and navigational aids and maneuver to avoid hazards. Captains keep logs and records of the ship's movements and cargo.
The captain socially distances themselves from their crew; otherwise the captain risks a loss of respect. The difference between a Captain and a Master is that a Master actually owns the ship.
Deck Officers: (5 shares) Deck officers aboard a vessel can be anything, such as the Marconi wireless radio operator.
Mates are officers similar in rank to boatswains, sometimes above and sometimes below them, and were in charge of a watch, (i.e. shifts on duty). If a ship has no separate master, only a captain/master then the term "First Mate" is often used to mean second in command.
Boatswain: (5 shares) The boatswain (Bo’sun or head seaman) is one of the most important men aboard any vessel. He is responsible for the general condition and functioning of the entire ship. He is also responsible for making sure every man is correctly on watch and at their station.
Chief Engineer: (5 shares) Merchant marine vessels usually have four engineering officers: A chief engineer and a first, second and third assistant engineer (or Donkeyman). Donkeymen stand shift watches, overseeing the safe operation of engines and machinery.
Experienced sailors are designated AB - able-bodied seaman on oceangoing vessels.
Seamen operate the vessel and its deck equipment under the direction of the ship’s officers and keep the non-engineering areas in good condition. They stand watch, looking out for other vessels and obstructions in the ship’s path, as well as for navigational aids such as buoys and lighthouses. They also steer the ship, measure water depth in shallow water, maintain and operate deck equipment such as lifeboats, anchors, and cargo-handling gear.
When docking or departing, they handle lines. They also perform routine maintenance chores, such as repairing lines, chipping rust, and painting and cleaning decks or other areas.
Firemen assist the engineers in the engine spaces. If the ship uses coal, there are “stokers” and “trimmers”. If it uses oil, there are “wipers”. “Oilers” help to maintain all the machinery.
The young men who aspire to maritime career usually start as cabin boys, at an age of 12 to 15, or apprentices and work together with the older sailors to learn the trade.
Depending on the ship, several other positions may be filled. They are Cook, Purser, Steward, Doctor, Pilot, and Coxswain. (A Coxswain is in command of the ship's boat or gig.) Aboard a merchant ship, the ‘Chain of Command” runs from the Captain to the First Mate and Chief Engineer, and then downward through the Deck and Engine departments.
Compiled by Greentongue 5/4/2008
Only little coastal ships are still owned by their masters. Most captains are employees throughout their entire careers. Many captains sail for many years or even their entire career for the same owners or shipping company. They can ascend in status, starting by commanding small coastal ships, later rising to larger ships, operating in the European or even intercontinental trade. So the social status of a captain does not depend so much on whether he owns the ship he commands or not, but on the size of his ship and on the trade he is involved in.
Traditionally, the ownership of a British ship is divided into 64 shares. Two equal partners would thus each own 32 shares. The sixty-fourths are negotiable; for example they can be traded just like stocks and shares, used as collateral for borrowed money or for raising mortgages.
A Charter Party is a written, or partly written and partly printed, contract between a merchant and Ship-owner, by which a ship is let or hired for the conveyance of goods on a specified voyage, or
for a definite period. There are three main types of charter:
1) The Voyage Charter. The charterer hires the vessel for a single voyage. The owner and his crew manage the vessel.
2) The Time Charter. Here the vessel is hired for a specific amount of time. The owner still manages the vessel but the charterer selects the ports of destination and controls the operation of the ship. It is a more permanent arrangement than the voyage charter and more representations are made about the ship to the charterer.
3) The Demise or Bareboat Charter. This arrangement is completely different from the previous two. The charterer takes full control of the vessel along with the legal and financial responsibility for it. The demise shifts the control and possession of the vessel.
An amazing expansion of American shipping resulted from the emergency building program undertaken in 1917 to offset the heavy Allied losses from Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare. The Shipping Board, which had been established by Congress in 1916, began an ambitious program to set up numerous new yards, the largest being at Hog Island just below Philadelphia. Much of this activity was continued after the war suddenly ended late in 1918. By 1921, the United States had overtaken Great Britain for first place among the world's merchant fleets; it had some 700 new large steel freighters and 575 smaller ones.
About a third of those new large ships found employment in a new inter-coastal trade between the East and West coasts through the Panama Canal, opened in 1914, which cut the New York
- San Francisco runs from 13,122 to 5,263 miles.
Nearly permanent in national merchant-marine policy, however, was the use of many of the new freighters on government-supported "essential trade routes" to all parts of the world. The wartime experience had shown how important it was to have regular service on certain runs to provide outlets for American exports and dependable sources of essential imports. At first, the new lines were operated directly by the Shipping Board, which absorbed the initial deficits.
However, as soon as they were profitable, the ships were auctioned off at bargain rates to private operators who agreed to maintain regular service on these routes for a period of years.
The steam ships on cargo liner services were designed to carry relatively small packages of goods, for instance, chests of tea, cases of butter, bales of cloth or barrels of wine. Their holds usually had an intermediate deck, known as a ‘tween deck, which gave an extra ‘floor’ to stow such items. It was important that cargo could be loaded quickly and remain accessible. It wasted time if some items for the terminal port had to be moved to get at cargo destined for an intermediate stop on the route.
Tramp ships transported bulk dry or liquid cargo as it was available.
Compiled by Greentongue 5/4/2008
The seafarers who served on tramp ships were the flotsam and jetsam of the Freight trade, usually poorly paid, often isolated and rootless, eking out their lives ashore between voyages in hostels or in one of the hundreds of nameless boarding houses which were to be found in every port on the Atlantic seaboard. These hostels accumulated men who had dropped out of the labor pools of the great steam ship companies for one reason or another.
It is not unusual to have 12 different nationalities amongst the company crew, Maltese, Poles, Canadian, South African, Latvian, Estonian, English, Irish, Scots and Welsh. Tramp companies were the major employers of Adenese, Yemenis, Somalis, Zanzibaris, though mainly as firemen, cooks and stewards. Crew that any passengers would not need to interact with.
Not all crew members were paid or treated equally by the great steam ship companies. The standard wages were paid to Europeans. Arabs, West Indians, and Africans were paid 20% less.
Hindrance of Outsider. The Chinese were paid less than half the European rate. Hindrances of Outsider and Poor. Indian or 'Lascar' sailors were only paid about a quarter of a European seaman’s wages. Hindrances of Outsider and Poor (Major).
On foreign stations the Royal Navy made use of local men to do many of the more mundane tasks on board ship. They were counted as members of the ship’s company, but messed separately, were paid differently (and less), and had their own petty officers. In the Far East, there were Chinese cooks and stewards – 99% from Hong Kong. In the East Indies, there were Goan stewards, and Somali stokers. In the Mediterranean there were Maltese cooks and stewards, and at the Cape there were Kroo-boys (mostly natives of Liberia). It was unusual for these Kroo-men to be more than a small proportion of a ship’s company.
People hired to replace striking workers are often derogatively termed “blacklegs” by those in favor of the strike because they were willing to work for less than the going [union] rate.
Any sailor that would work for less than standard wages was treated with contempt by all other sailors. Hindrance of Outsider There is a good natured rivalry between the Deck department and the Engine department on all ships, same as with the “Bridge Crew” and the rest of the sailors. Drinking, Gambling, Religion, are shared activities across all these boundaries. It is not unusual for sailors to recommend others they have previously shipped with, when an opening is available on their current ship.
The Mess Deck is the area where all of the crew mingles. On smaller ships the men eat together, on larger ones they have their own “mess” area and the officers have separate Cooks.
Loan Sharks, Smugglers, Stowaways, Loners, Drug Addicts, Ardent Union Members, and Company Spies, can all be found among the crew.
Watches normally last 4 hours, and change over at the following times: 0000, 0400, 0800, 1200, 1600, 1800, 2000. The 2-hour watches are called "dog-watches." They ensure that the schedule of who stands which watch rotates. Watches are measured by “bells”, at one per half-hour.
Paying The Crew:
Tramp crewmembers have two options for payment - either they can take standard pay, or they can forgo pay in lieu of shares - any profit the ship makes is divvied up into shares.
If standard pay is taken, the crewman doesn’t get any bonus on a good run, but is guaranteed his wage. If the crewman goes shares, he stands to make a tidy profit on some runs, and not on others. The Captain is always paid in shares.
Standard union pay for a seaman is $110/month or $3.65 per day. When a ship earns more or less than 1 KEF the bonus/penalty is applied to the $110 for crewmen who are paid in shares..9 KEF would mean $99 and 1.25 KEF would mean $137.50.
The postal service doesn't allow you to mail drugs, escaped prisoners, endangered animals, stolen documents, or weaponry (to name a few). This is the stuff of tense, dangerous adventure, and the crew needn't be motivated by greed. Running weapons to a country embroiled in war can have real personal meaning for the PCs, especially if it's their home. Running drugs or alcohol to a country might even be a matter of revenge.