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Registrar General Of Shipping And Seamen, Certificates Of Competency And Service


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Collection Archive
Gallery locationNot on display

Record details:

Biographical details By an order of 1845 the Board of Trade authorized a system of voluntary examination of competency for men intending to become masters and mates of foreign-going British merchant ships. The system was made compulsory for those seeking promotion by the Act of 1850 and extended to the examination of masters and mates of home trade vessels by the consolidating Act of 1854. Examinations were conducted in the major ports of the United Kingdom and successful candidates were granted Certificates of Competency. Masters and mates already serving were granted Certificates of Service. In 1862 Certificates of Competency were issued to engineers and those already serving were granted Certificates of Service (These are indexed as RSS/EC). In 1881 Certificates of Competency were issued to officers with experience in steamships. In the same year Certificates of Competency were issued to skippers and mates of fishing boats and two years later Certificates of Service were also issued (See RSS/SC).
Description The records at the Museum consist of copies of the Certificates of Competency and Service, 1850 to 1927, as well as the application forms for examination submitted by the candidates. These are arranged numerically by certificate number. The copies of the certificates record the name, certificate number, year and place of birth of the candidate, rank examined for and the date and place of the certificate's issue. The application forms record the name, date and place of birth of the candidate, rank examined for, date and place of application and examination, together with a list of vessels with dates and the capacity in which the candidate served. When a candidate passed an examination for a certificate of higher rank than that which he already held, a new certificate number was not normally granted. The number of his existing certificate was retained and the new application form and copies of the new certificate were placed with those of the earlier date. Frequently, on the death of a master or mate, the number of his certificate was re-used and given to another candidate. Each series of Certificates of Competency and Service was entered in a corresponding series of registers. In yearly columns, the names of vessels served in were noted with details of voyages, deaths, injuries and retirements. In some cases, however, the details are missing from the registers. These registers of service, up to 1895, together with the corresponding indexes, are located in the Board of Trade papers at the The National Archives (BT 122-BT 130, BT 138-BT 143 and BT 317-BT 320, some indexes of certificates are in BT 352). An alphabetical index of masters and mates, compiled by Lloyd's of London, can be found in the Lloyd's Captains Registers, 1868 to 1947, in the Guildhall Library, London (now at London Metropolitan Archives). These records give the name, year and place of birth, certificate number, date and place of certificates issued and a record of service after the certificates were issued.
Date made 1850-1927

Finding Reference RSS/MC
Catalogue section Public records: records of the central administration of the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy
Creator Seamen, Registrar General Of Shipping And
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Extent Overall: 137 m
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