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Certificate of Discharge of Seaman Brian Andersen from SS CLUTHA OCEANIC

Date: 26 January 1973
Overall: 127 x 229 mm
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection Gift from Christine Andersen
Object Name: Certificate
Object No: ANMS1388[080]

User Terms

    A box of slides and various paper based material including wage slips and 73 discharge certificates recording the work history of merchant seaman Brian Norman Andersen between the 1950s and 1970s.
    SignificanceThis collection of material records the work of a merchant seaman between the 1950s and 1970s in great detail.
    HistoryAn 1849 Act to amend and consolidate the Laws relating to Seamen in the Merchant Service of the Colony of New South Wales, and for keeping a Register of Seamen belonging to Ships registered in the colony introduced requirements for ships masters to enter into written agreements with seamen engaged by them as crew, specifying wages and provisions, the capacity in which they would serve and the nature of the voyage. It also required masters to issue to seamen certificates of discharge upon their discharge or upon payment of their wages. The 1849 Act applied only to ships registered in the Colony.

    In 1854 the Imperial Merchant Shipping Act was passed, which had application to all British ships except those registered in the Colony. The Imperial Act, like the New South Wales Act before it, required the master or owner of every British ship, over a certain tonnage, to enter a written agreement for the engagement and discharge of seamen. The Articles of Agreement were to be made at the start of a particular voyage, although running agreements were able to be made for a defined period in which short and frequent voyages would be made.

    At the end of the voyage the discharge and release of the crew was recorded. The date, place and reason for leaving the ship, and the balance of wages paid upon discharge, were recorded in the articles of agreement. Under the Merchant Shipping Act 1854 each seaman discharged was also to be issued with a certificate of discharge giving particulars of the ship, period of service and the seamans capacity, ability and conduct. No seaman could be engaged to work on a ship unless he delivered to the person engaging him a discharge from his last ship or a permit to sign articles.

    The printed certificate of discharge remained in a remarkably similar format from the nineteenth century version to the late twentieth century. Many seamen diligently kept their certificates as a record of service, a mememto, and as examples of good conduct and service for future employers.

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