Master at arms


capyb5

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Dec 11, 2016
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So, in the movie Titanic (1997) Leonardo Dicaprio's character Jack gets handcuffed to a pipe for stealing. Is this accurate? How would thieves be dealt with on the real Titanic?
And what about bigger groups of people? You can't handcuff several people to pipes in a small office.

Well, I just want more information on how criminals were dealt with on the real ship.
 
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May 3, 2005
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Which brings up another question. Was there anything like a "brig" on an ocean liner ?
Were the Master At Arms duties similar to those in the British Navy ?
In reference to the crew and passengers ?
 

capyb5

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Brig as in a jail/prison? I believe the only "prison" there was on the Titanic was the Master at arms office, which wasn't really a prison at all. It was small and just the sleeping place for the master at arms officers themselves. I also came across another thread several years ago, where someone suggested that violent/deranged people may be brought to the ship's hospital to calm down.

But there wasn't really any official brig, as far as I know.

Master at arms kept law and order on the ship, controlled the passengers/crew, etc. especially dealing with bigger groups of people.

What I'm interested in is how they kept law and order on the ship, i.e: if someone commits a crime, what happens with them? Was handcuffing someone to something like a pipe really a possible method or was it just dreamed up by James Cameron to make his movie?

Hope my answer helped Robert, and any answers or suggestions to my curiosities welcome!!
 
Nov 13, 2014
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In reply to my profile post: I know too well that the 1996 Miniseries is completely unreliable as a source. Saying that it is cluttered with goofs and inaccuracies is a big understatement. It's almost like "they just didn't care": they wanted to make a movie and placed it on the Titanic just to sell more copies, without doing a single bit of research. The very same thing applies for the 1953 Hollywood Production.

I came with the following idea myself, but there is a good chance that individual crimes like stealing were dealt with after arriving at the destination. The culprit would be taken by the Master-at-Arms and then be handed over to the police ashore.
 
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My question would be "Would the culprits have been confined in or by any special space or means while on the ship before reaching the destination and then being handled over to the police ashore ? "
 

capyb5

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Thank you for the info. Robert, that's essentially what I'm asking, only you phrased it in a more sophisticated way!
 
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Thanks also to you capyb5.
I was just wondering if this came up very often and what they did with guilty persons in those cases ?
I have seen some reports of stowaways being put to work ?
 
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In other words.....IF the ship didn't go down and IF Jack had lived, would he have been turned over to the NYPD IF the ship had arrived safely in NYC ?

Would Cal or the Master-At-Arms have been involved in the prosecution process ?
 
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I remember an incident in San Diego where some sailors got Dishonorable Discharges and there were police cars from the San Diego PD waiting for them just outside the main gate.
 
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I'm no Naval Expert. My only experiences were some Shore Patrol duties But fortunately for me they were very uneventful. No drunks, no fights, etc.
 

capyb5

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Robert: I don't know what would've happened with Jack. I think that nothing would have happened because a ship just sank and I expect that people will need to recover.

One of the master at arms officers died in the disaster too.
I don't think nationality of great importance, though that's just my opinion.
 
Nov 13, 2014
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In the 1997 film, Jack got arrested Sunday evening just before midnight. If the ship didn't sink, Rose would have 3 days to prove Jack innocent. It should be more than enough.

One option to deal with criminals is to lock them up in a vacant cabin. Plenty of those on the Titanic, she was only 2/3rd full. Just my own suggestion, I'm not sure at all if that's how it's done in real life.
 
Aug 18, 2020
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I also wonder what the reprimand was for the card sharks who were known to operate on the Atlantic liners posing as ordinary travelers, in order to prey on the wealthy unwary.

The shipping lines warned passengers to be alert when joining onboard games of chance.
 
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In "A Night To Remember" there is a scene just after Lightoller has been relieved and is making the rounds and doing some inspections of the lifeboats. He then goes into what appears to be the Men's Lounge and stops to talk to the Steward . He tells the Steward that he has seen that group of card sharks before on another ship and the Steward should get the word to pass the word to the passengers as to what they are up against............" Gives the ship a bad name. Gives you a bad name, too ! "

Was this based on an actual incident (or incidents) or just some more "movie fiction" ?
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Professional gamblers were common on ships during those times and up until at least ships started opening their casino's. They like the cruise liners because it gave them an opportunity to meet up with rich passengers they otherwise wouldn't have access to. Later during prohibition there were gambling ships that would go off shore just outside the legal jurisdiction to let people drink and gamble. Both on the east and west coast. I know there was ship off Los Angeles that would just ferry out passengers to her for the day/night.
P.S...theres a good old movie that kind of covers the topic. "Mr Lucky". But that was set during the outbreak of WW2. But good if you like older b&w movies. Cheers.
 

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