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During the long period of peace after the conclusion of the Napoleonic War, the British Merchant Navy was regarded as a trading organisation - that and nothing more.The authority which the State had exercised in the past had been in general of two kinds - protective and economic.The shock had still not subsided when these books were written. The responsibilities of the Navy - The Royal Commission on the Supply of Food and Raw Material in Time of War - Changes in naval conditions owing to the introduction of steam - Command of the sea essential - Concentration of force the key to security - Losses of merchantmen anticipated - Shipowners and the risks of war - An enemy's difficulties - Linking up the Admiralty and the Merchant Service - No fear of starvation . The use of the submarine for commerce destruction involved the infraction of international law as well as the ignoring of the code of humanity, since these small craft, packed with machinery and equipped for war, were unable to accommodate the crews of ships sunk, whether by torpedo, gunfire, or bombs.The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty have given the author access to official documents in the preparation of this work, but they are in no way responsible for the accuracy of its statements or the presentation of the facts. l -2 The Cinque Ports and Home Defence - The Laws of Oleron - Merchantmen at the Battle of Sluys - War and piracy - Issue of letters of marque - Appointment of Admirals - The Merchant Adventurers - Sebastian Cabot - English seamen in the Narrow Seas - The Hanseatic League - The foundation of the Royal Navy - Elizabethan voyagers - Drake and the Spanish Main - The defeat of the Spanish Armada - The "Adventurers for the Discovery of the Trade of the East Indies" - The rivalry of the Dutch pp. 97-116 The position of the merchant seamen - Discussions at The Hague - Germany's deceptive declarations - Professions of respect for the code of humanity - Right of conversion on the high seas - The Admiralty's suspicions - A policy of defensive armament - Germany's varied resources for a war on commerce - British merchant ships detained in German ports before the outbreak of war - British protests - The enemy's Naval Prize Code - The status of merchant seamen - The German declaration of July 22nd, 1914 - Merchant seamen as prisoners of war - The opening of hostilities - Loss of the s.s. The German flag had already been banished from the highways of the world.Mistaken conception of the Merchant Navy - Traditions and romance - Significance of sea power - Growth of the world's war fleets - Influence of the steam-engine - Responsibilities of merchant shipping on the outbreak of war . 8-44 Enemy's war on sea-borne commerce - Heavy losses of merchant shipping - Successes of French corsairs - Unreadiness of the Channel Fleet - Spirited defence by British merchant seamen - The risks of commerce in war time - Unwieldy British convoys - Man-power of the Merchant Navy - The effect of impressment - The guerre de course after Trafalgar -The fight of the Windsor Castle - The escape of the Shaw - The Antelope and the Atlante - Consideration for prisoners - The value of Dunkirk, Calais, Boulogne, and Dieppe - Raids on shipping in the English Channel - British merchantmen captured, 1793-1812 . 44-69 The aftermath of the War - Prosperity and sea power - The influence of the Navigation Laws and the movement for repeal - The competency of masters and officers -Mr. 70-97 Changed relations of the Royal Navy and the Mercantile Marine - Unpopularity of impressment - The Registry of seamen - Deterioration of the personnel - Reports from British Consuls - Discreditable conditions - Increase in the number of apprentices - A new scheme of registration and its failure - Repeal of the Manning clauses of the Navigation Laws - Establishment of a Voluntary Naval Reserve - A chequered history - New scheme of training of the Royal Naval Reserve introduced in 1906 - The country's resources in seamen . So, in desperation, it was decided, whatever the loss of human life might be, and without respect for considerations of law, however widely recognised, to embark on a policy which, rightly or wrongly, became generally known as piracy.
They are indispensable to any researcher or scholar of World War 1 who wants to start to understand the vastness of the war at sea and its near fatal impact on British, Allied and Neutral merchant shipping. - The British seamen's ordeal - Enemy threats treated with contempt - The rising toll of lives lost - Merchant ships attacked by aeroplanes - Vessels torpedoed without warning - The escape of the s.s.
Throughout the latter half of the nineteenth and the first decade of the twentieth century, it tended to interest itself increasingly in shipping, and especially to regulate it more closely in the interest of the persons (passengers and crews) carried in the ships, with a view to safeguarding life.
The restricted powers formerly vested in the Admiralty were transferred to the Board of Trade and exercised by that department, overburdened with many and varied responsibilities, with sagacity and restraint, the aim being to discourage as little as possible the individualistic enterprise of the shipping industry.
The writing of this record of the ordeal of British merchant seamen would have been impossible had it not been for the cordial help received from officers of the Royal Navy who, while serving at the Admiralty or elsewhere, were brought into intimate association with the Merchant Service, from the officials of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade, of the Ministry of Shipping, and of the Admiralty, from the Registrar-General of Shipping and Seamen, and from many others, to whom acknowledgment is made.
Full use has also been made of the records of the various departments.The Germans determined to hold up, or destroy, merchant shipping, and their failure is traceable alike to the spirit exhibited by the crews of merchant vessels and to the manner in which merchant seamen, fishermen, yachtsmen, and others responded to the Admiralty's invitation when it was decided to build up a new Navy to deal with the new problems created by the submarine and mine. R., in the preparation of this portion of the History.