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Shipping Movements (Control)

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 3 March 1943

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asked the First Lord of the Admiralty whether he is aware that a recent case in the King's Bench Division disclosed that a merchant captain, being instructed by a commander, Royal Navy, to take his ship, being then unloaded and light, from the port of St. Nazaire on account of the weather conditions, protested, but was overruled, whereby the steamer stranded and sustained much damage; and whether he will consider the advisability of instructing that similar decisions should be taken in future, when possible, by a naval officer of a higher rank than that of commander?

Subject to the ultimate responsibility of the Commander-in-Chief or of the Admiralty, the control of merchant shipping movements must be exercised by the responsible local naval authorities. I would point out that the Admiralty has no hesitation in entrusting to officers of commander's rank and below the command of His Majesty's destroyers, corvettes, submarines and other warships.