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Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 04:21 PM
ETA: the actual date may change, but it will be around that mark. I think...

So I have a problem, or rather my MC does. He's been rather remiss and lost his ship. Or rather got distracted by the naked lady and allowed it to get stolen :D

So he's a Commander in the RN, newly stationed in the Caribbean and charged with pirate hunting. Before his arrival there has been a spate of rather devious boatnappings. Along with merchantmen, two RN ships have gone missing ( their crews all turn up, set adrift in longboats, having been either drugged or rendered unconscious)

Due to a rather elaborate and cunning ruse, the aforementioned naked lady distracts him, his crew are incapacitated and then the naked lady gets him too. Bye bye ship.

So what would his punishment be? He doesn't mention that he wasn't paying much attention ( except to naked flesh :D ) but it's obvious that he's not been entirely conscientious about it. Although this isn't the first RN ship to go, I'm sure there would be some repercussions, but I can't find out what.

Anyone got any ideas?

waylander
04-27-2009, 04:39 PM
What is his relationship like with the local commander (Admiral) and the governor?
How aristocratic/rich/politically connected is he?

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 04:51 PM
Ok so far - but he's only recently been posted there. This is his first posting as Commander. Admiral is not particularly harsh, as these things go.

Third son of minor nobility ( haven't 100% what yet), not hugely rich, but not impoverished either. Pretty well connected - which is how he got the pirate chasing gig he wanted. There is someone close to the Admiral who might put in a good word

waylander
04-27-2009, 05:57 PM
It depends on what you want it to be.
The admiral could demote him to cabinboy, fling him in irons and send him back to be dealt with by the Admiralty or he could give him a pat on the shoulder and say 'Bad luck, could happen to anyone'. Almost any point between the two is possible. Or the admiral could come down with some tropical fever, be unable to make the decision and so our boy gets to try and recover his ship before the admiral recovers.

dpaterso
04-27-2009, 06:17 PM
Minor nobility and connections gets him a free pass home aboard the first lugger. In Portsmouth, he'll be asked for his resignation, as an alternative to being stripped of his rank and drummed out of the Royal Navy. What might happen that would prevent this?

-Derek

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 06:18 PM
So being beached and made to do all the really boring clerical stuff ( hell for our chappie) would be feasible? Mainly cos I don't want him in irons till later on...


I Or the admiral could come down with some tropical fever, be unable to make the decision and so our boy gets to try and recover his ship before the admiral recovers.

Oooooh I like that idea :D


Minor nobility and connections gets him a free pass home aboard the first lugger. In Portsmouth, he'll be asked for his resignation, as an alternative to being stripped of his rank and drummed out of the Royal Navy. What might happen that would prevent this?

I was afraid of that. If he had info that could lead these nefarious pirates being found and brought to the gallows? Would that do the trick?

waylander
04-27-2009, 06:33 PM
It is all at the discretion of the local RN commander and the governor. Depends on how big a place it is. Are there other people competent to go after the pirates? Or has there been fever in the station leaving them short-handed?

RichardB
04-27-2009, 06:33 PM
By the 18th century a British officer losing a ship for ANY reason-- even a good one-- meant the captian had to face a court-martial.

The court was convened as soon as a sutiable quorum of admirals and senior captains could be assembled to try it. The defendant began by giving his sword-- the symbol of his authority-- to the judges. Then evidence was heard.

If the court-martial decided in favor of the captain, his sword was placed on the table with the back of the blade facing him so that he could pick it up and wear it. If not then, well... there was the other side of the blade.

A captain convicted of dereliction of duty in losing his ship would certainly lose his commission. I don't know but I imagine he would be forced out of the navy in disgrace and shunned by society until he had the decency to off himself. A junior officer convicted of dereliction might lose his commission, be put "before the mast" (that is, made an ordinary seaman) and flogged before being discharged. Officers could not be flogged.

For cowardice before the enemy or that sort of thing a man could be executed. Losing a ship through stupidity would I think get the man drummed out of the service and ruined for life.

I can't see an admiral saying "bad luck old boy'... this was a strict rule. I could see delays in putting a court together getting your hero time to do something spectacular to ensure his career survival.

This is all 18th-19th century of course: I know less about 1690.

For a true account of a court-martial for losing a ship, look up the case of Lieutenant William Bligh who was acquitted of losing his ship to mutiny. Fictional accounts abound in the Hornblower and Aubrey-Maturin books.

dpaterso
04-27-2009, 06:33 PM
I was afraid of that. If he had info that could lead these nefarious pirates being found and brought to the gallows? Would that do the trick?
I should imagine so! Possibly full reinstatement, perhaps even a promotion. Slight problem, no ship. :) But you'll think of something...

PS - best look up when the Royal Navy came into being, I don't think it existed as early as 1690, there was a certainly a Royal fleet but under another name?

-Derek

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 06:57 PM
I can't see an admiral saying "bad luck old boy'... this was a strict rule. I could see delays in putting a court together getting your hero time to do something spectacular to ensure his career survival.

Ok, I can use that. Delay is easy :D




For a true account of a court-martial for losing a ship, look up the case of Lieutenant William Bligh who was acquitted of losing his ship to mutiny. Fictional accounts abound in the Hornblower and Aubrey-Maturin books. Good idea


I should imagine so! Possibly full reinstatement, perhaps even a promotion. Slight problem, no ship. :) But you'll think of something... Ahh well, if he catches the pirates, he should find the ship. :D


PS - best look up when the Royal Navy came into being, I don't think it existed as early as 1690, there was a certainly a Royal fleet but under another name?

-Derek Oh yes. Thanks!


It is all at the discretion of the local RN commander and the governor. Depends on how big a place it is. Are there other people competent to go after the pirates? Or has there been fever in the station leaving them short-handed?

Short handed

Soooo...The Admiral could give him grace until the court-martial is convened, but due to short-handedness it won't be for a little while. If he can find pirates ( and preferably ships) before then, he's off the hook.

Would that work?

And in the meantime, would he have duties or would he be relieved of them? I assume relieved of duties. And presumably shunned by polite society? Or maybe not exactly shunned, but not exactly welcomed wither?

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 08:16 PM
I have another alternative - would this work?

If they are short-handed for commanders / captains, would he maybe have passage on someone else's ship out there, to take command of his ship once there? ( which case it could happen on the way out, and so it wouldn't be his ship;))

Or if he were say the first officer ( whatever that's called :D) His captain gets court-martialed and he gets a field promotion due to lack of other officers?

Would either of those be plausible? Or am I clutching at straws here?

jennontheisland
04-27-2009, 08:19 PM
Spankings.

RichardB
04-27-2009, 08:33 PM
Would either of those be plausible? Or am I clutching at straws here?

I think you're at the point where you really need to do some actual research instead of asking a bunch of internet nobodies (myself included). You're in a dangerous space: the most specific advice you're getting (mine) has to do with the Royal Navy of approximately 1770-1820. You don't even know if the fleet under Good King William was the Royal Navy or something else. Don't speculate--find a book. Unless you're writing a story for Disney--in which case carry on then, shiver me timbers.

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 08:36 PM
It's finding the right book, and whether the library actually has it *sigh* I've tried everywhere else. :(

Thanks anyway!

waylander
04-27-2009, 09:41 PM
Field promotions happened all the time if captain got injured/sick/killed or if the ship took a prize and put a crew aboard.

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 10:15 PM
Excellent! Hopefully I'll be able to get hold of the right person at the Naval Museum soon. How dare he go on holiday just when I need him!

waylander
04-27-2009, 10:52 PM
PS - best look up when the Royal Navy came into being, I don't think it existed as early as 1690, there was a certainly a Royal fleet but under another name?

1661 - established by The Naval Discipline Act (drafted by Samuel Pepys and Sir William Penn)

Medievalist
04-27-2009, 10:57 PM
You know, the RN regs, going back to at least the early 1700s are online; but I can't find them now.

I found them a couple months ago, writing about the Rum rations, and the entire regs, in multiple versions were on an official UK site. Google is not helping me now though.

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 11:08 PM
No it hasn't been helping me either.

But thanks guys!

And esp derek for coming up with a question i hadn't even thought of!

RichardB
04-27-2009, 11:17 PM
Here's the straight dope. I believe you know where the cookie button is :)

Articles in effect since 1661:
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=47293

Note article 34 on "Court marshalls"

Rules were revised in 1749: http://www.pdavis.nl/NDA1749.htm

and again in 1779: http://www.pdavis.nl/NDA1779.htm

Note that in the 1779 Act we see some specifics on exactly how a court-martial needs to be convened and what might delay it:



That the Proceedings of any Court-martial shall not be delayed by the Absence of any of its Members, provided a sufficient Number doth remain to compose such Court, which shall, and is hereby required to sit from Day to Day (Sunday always exempted) until the Sentence be given; any Thing herein before contained to the contrary whereof in any wise notwithstanding: And no Member of the said Court-martial shall absent himself from the said Court during the whole Course of the Trial, upon Pain of being cashiered from his Majesty’s Service, except in Case of Sickness, or other extraordinary and indispensable Occasion, to be judged of by the said Court.


Thus we can perhaps assume that courts-martial prior to this date were hard to convene and harder to keep together. Your hero should be able to use this to his advantage :)

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 11:41 PM
Hmm Yielding a ship to the enemy, punishable by death.

I mean he did do all he should given the situation, right up until a point ( and they don't know about the point) and they didn't yield as such, they tried to defend but maybe time for plan B....

Although the earlier provision for Court Martial is :
no Court martiall where the paines of death shall bee inflicted shall consist of lesse then Five Captaines at least
so delay might be possible


Thanks Richard. I've looked all over for that. Hours in the bookshop etc, and my google fu is obviously not up to scratch ( looking for regs not articles *doh*). Maybe the man at the Naval Museum can help, when he gets back.

Thanks everyone once again. Given me lots to think about / work with.

RichardB
04-27-2009, 11:49 PM
I think Article 10 is the one he'd be prosecuted under:



10. Every Captain or Commander who upon signall or order of fight or view or sight of any Ships of the Enemy Pirate or Rebell or likelihood of Engagement shall not put all things in his Ship in a fitt posture for fight and shall not in his owne person and according to his place hearten and encourage the Inferior Officers and common men to fight couragiously and not to behave themselves faintly shall bee [casheired]...


The Captain loste his Ship to the Enemy Pirate or Rebell because he had not put all Things in a fitt posture for Fight, his owne person beeing Distracted by a Naeked Ladee....

Mr Flibble
04-27-2009, 11:58 PM
I think Article 10 is the one he'd be prosecuted under:



The Captain loste his Ship to the Enemy Pirate or Rebell because he had not put all Things in a fitt posture for Fight, his owne person beeing Distracted by a Naeked Ladee....


Lol well yes and no.

Ok, like this. He finds a merchantman ( he knows this ship is legit btw) that's been attacked by pirates but managed to beat them off. Heave to, assess damage, arrange for repairs and escort to port. Stand double watch etc in case said pirates come back.

Of course the merchantmen are the pirates, only in disguise. He is distracted by naked lady, supposed merchantmen jump his crew, and him. The pirates have a major edge here too - not something really defendable against

Only he knows about the naked lady though. And I doubt he's going to mention it...

There's more to it, but that's the gist.

So, he did try and do all he could to defend against the pirates, if only he'd known who they were. :D

I think I'll go with Plan B...

AZ_Dawn
04-28-2009, 12:13 AM
Along with merchantmen, two RN ships have gone missing ( their crews all turn up, set adrift in longboats, having been either drugged or rendered unconscious)


Just a heads up for you, but even the smaller RN ships can have over 100 men aboard. There'd probably be less aboard in port, but they'd still have a decent watch. I can see this scenario happening to a merchantman; shipowners tended to be cheap and hired the smallest crew they could get away with. But unless the commander's an utter dipstick, I can't see this happening to an RN ship.

Hope that helps and wasn't too harsh.



It's finding the right book, and whether the library actually has it *sigh* I've tried everywhere else. :(


I feel your pain. The selection of naval history books at the local library makes me feel like I'm living in Hicksville.

waylander
04-28-2009, 12:16 AM
He was taken in by subterfuge, but was acting according to Navy tradition and regulations by offering aid to a British merchantman. Sounds like defendable actions (so long as no-one knows about the naked lady)

RichardB
04-28-2009, 02:12 AM
Ok so this is looking good for your captain... merely incompetent in the face of the enemy, not negligent :)

Mr Flibble
04-28-2009, 02:16 AM
As I said, the pirates do have something up their sleeve in addition - so not especially incompetent, no. Naive maybe.

Unless there's something he should have done ( fired on a ship known to be a legit trader and under the navy's protection? ...probably not, cos that might be a court-martial? 'Not relieving a friend - court martial, punishment death, os the court martial shall see fit',:D) that I've not thought of.

Which I probably have totally failed to account for. It wouldn't surprise me. :D