Master

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Master
Country United Kingdom
Service branchRoyal Navy
Formation1546-1864
Next higher rankLieutenant-Commander
Next lower rankMasters Mate

A Master also called Sailing Master was the senior warrant officer rank specialising in navigation and when in action his duties were to ensure the navigational safety of the ship rather than the military engagement. The rank initially approximated to that of Lieutenant then later Commander.[1]

History

The Master was the senior warrant rank specialising in navigation and when in action his duties were to ensure the navigational safety of the ship rather than the military engagement. The rank approximated to that of Lieutenant and holders were well educated as they needed to be literate and use mathematics to navigate. They were professionally examined by Trinity House and re-qualified if appointed to a larger rated ship. Masters were able to stand watches and command ships in non-combatant duties.[2]

The Master's main duty was navigation, taking ship's position daily and setting the sails as appropriate for the required course. He educated and supervised Midshipmen and Master's Mates in taking observations of the sun and maintained the ship's compass. He was responsible for ensuring the maintenance of the rope rigging and sails. Other duties included the stowing of the hold, inspecting provisions, taking in or moving stores so that the ship was not badly trimmed or too weighted down to sail effectively and reporting defects to the Captain. He was also responsible for the security and issue of drink on board and supervised entry of parts of the official log such as weather, position and expenditure.[3] In 1843, masters were elevated to commission rank not warrant. In 1864 the rank renamed Staff Captain and this rank was abolished after over 330 years. During World War One the rank was temporarily established as an appointment of Master of the Fleet to the Grand Fleet as its chief navigation officer.

References

  1. Navy, Royal. (2014). Naval Ranks: Information sheet no 096. Library and Information Services. National Museum of the Royal Navy. Portsmouth, England.
  2. National Museum of the Royal Navy.
  3. National Museum of the Royal Navy.

Bibliography

  1. Navy, Royal. (2014). Naval Ranks: Information sheet no 096. Library and Information Services. National Museum of the Royal Navy. Portsmouth, England