Rating of seaman only becomes entitled to the rating of A.B., that is to say, of an able-bodied seaman, after he has served at sea for three years before the mast. But the employment of fishermen in registered decked fishing vessels only counts as sea service up to the period of two years of that employment ; and the rating of A.B. is only granted after at least one year's sea service in a trading vessel, in addition to two or more years' sea service on board of decked fishing vessels so registered. The service is proved by certificates of discharge, by a certificate of service from the registrar-general (granted for a fee of sixpence), specifying in each case whether the service was rendered in whole or in part, in steamship or in sailing ship, or by other satisfactory proof. On disrating a seaman there must be an entry in the log, and a copy must be furnished to the seaman.
Discharge of a seaman serving in a British foreign going ship, whether registered within or without the United Kingdom, is on the termination of his engagement discharged in the United Kingdom, his discharge, whether the agreement with the crew be one for the voyage or a running agreement, must be effected in the prescribed manner in the pre sence of a superintendent; and a niaster acting in contravention of this rule is for each offence liable to a fine of l'10. The seamen of a home-trade ship, if the master or owner so desire, may be discharged in the same manner as seamen discharged from a foreign-going ship. The master must sign and give to a seaman discharged from his ship, either on his discharge or on pay ment of his wages, a certificate of discharge on an approved form, specifying the period of his service and the time and place of his discharge, in default of which the master is liable for each offence to a fine of 110. Ile must also return the certificate of competency to an officer on his discharge. Where a seaman is discharged before a superintendent, the master must make and sign in an approved form a report of the conduct, character, and qualifications of the seaman discharged, or may state in the said form that he declines to give any opinion upon such particulars or upon any of them, and the superintendent, if the seaman desires, must give to him or indorse on his certificate of discharge a copy of such report. Such reports are re corded. If any person (a) knowingly makes a false report of character ; (b) forges or fraudulently alters any certificate of discharge or report of char acter, or copy thereof; (c) assists in committing, or procures to be committed, any of such offences ; (d) fraudulently uses any such document which is forged or altered or does not belong to him, he is in respect of each offence guilty, of a misdemeanour. A certain sanction may be required for the discharge of a seaman out of the United Kingdom. And a seaman who is so dis charged, but at the termination of his service, may require to be sent home.
Payment of a seaman is discharged before a superin tendent in the United Kingdom, he must receive his wages through or in the presence of the superintendent, unless a competent court otherwise direct ; and if in such a case the master or owner of a ship pays his wages in any other manner, he is for each offence liable to a fine of ..e10. The seamen of a home-trade ship may, if the master or owner so desires, receive their wages in the same manlier as seamen discharged from a foreign-going ship. The master of every ship is required by law, before paying off or discharging a seaman, to deliver a full and true account in an approved form of the sea man's wages, and of all deductions to be made therefrom. The account must be delivered —(a) where the seaman is not to be discharged before a superin tendent, to the seaman himself not less than twenty-four hours before his discharge or payment off; (b) where the seaman is to be discharged before a superintendent, either to the seaman himself at or before the time of Iris leaving the ship, or to the superintendent not less than twenty-four hours before the discharge or payment off. If the master fails without reasonable c,ause to comply with these requirements, he is for each offence liable to a fine of ,E5 . No deduction from the wages of a seaman is lawful unless it is included in the account, except a deduction in respect of a matter happening after the delivery of the account. The master must, during the voyage, enter
the various matters in respect of which the deductions are made with par ticulars ; and must, if required, produce his book at the time of the payment of wage and also at the hearing of any complaint or question relating to the payment. In the case of foreign-going ships (other than ships where seamen are wholly compensated by a share of the profits of the adventure), —(a) The owner or master of the ship must pay to each seaman on account, at the time hen he lawfully leaves the ship at the end of his engagement, 11, or one-fourth of the balance of wages due to him, whichever is least, and must pay him the remainder of his wages within two clear days (exclusive of Sunday, fast day in Scotland, or bank holiday) after he so leaves the ship ; (b) if the seamaii consents, the final settlement of his wages may be left to a superintendent, and his receipt operates as if it were a release given by the seaman ; (c) in the event of the seaman's wages or any part thereof not being paid or settled as above mentioned, then, unless the delay is due to the act or default of the seaman or to any reasonable dispute as to liability, or to any other cause not being the wrongful act or default of the master or owner, the seaman's wages will continue to run until the final settlement. And the master of every home-trade ship must pay to every seaman his wages within two days after the termination of the agreement with the crew, or at the time when the seaman is discharged, whichever first happens. If the master or owner fails without reasonable cause to make payment at that time, he must pay to the seaman a sum not exceeding the amount of two days' pay for each day during which payment is delayed beyond that time, but the sum payable is not to exceed ten days' double pay. Any such sum is recoverable as wages. Where a seaman is discharged, and the settlement of his wages completed, before a superintendent, he must sign in the latter's presence a release, in an approved form, of all claims in respect of the past voyage or engagement ; and the release must also be signed by the master or owner of the ship and attested by the superintendent. The release operates as a mutual discharge and settlement of all demands between the parties in respect of the past voyage or engagement. The release is retained by the superin tendent, and is admissible in evidence. Where the settlement of a seaman's wages is required to be completed through or in the presence of a superin tendent, no payment, receipt, or settlement made otherwise than in accord ance with these provisions will operate as or be admitted as evidence of the release or satisfaction of any claim. Upon any payment being made by a master before a superintendent, the latter must, if required, sign and give to the master a statement of the whole amount so paid ; and the statement will, as between the master and his employee, be admissible as evidence that the master has made the payments therein mentioned. When the amount in question does not exceed £5 in a dispute as to wages between the master or owner of a ship and a seaman or apprentice, a superintendent may adjudi cate, and his decision is final, but he may refuse to decide the question. He has also power to hear and decide other questions, and his award is con clusive, and in any proceeding before him he has power to require the pro duction of the ship's papers and the attendance of the owner and certain other persons for examination in the matter. Any person failing without reasonable cause to comply with the requisition, is for each offence liable to a fine of 25. Where a seaman has agreed with the master of a British ship for payment of his wages in British sterling or any other money, any payment of, account of, his wages if made in any other currency than that stated in the agreement must, notwithstanding anything in the agreement, be made at the rate of exchange for the time being current at the place where the payment is made. The Act of 1906 contains other very important provisions with regard to the payment of wages.