Ranks and Titles Dec 29, 2007 11:10:11 GMT -5
Post by Quentin Nokov on Dec 29, 2007 11:10:11 GMT -5
It has often been said that pirates were one of the first true democracies, in that they elected their captains, and often other officers as well. It must be stated that though there are several examples of pirates being voted into and out of power this was not always the case by any means.
Whether he commanded by election or imposition the pirate captain was the supreme commander aboard his ship. The men sailed where he told them to, fought when and whom he told them to and on the whole were ruled by him. For the elected captain his position was a precarious one, his men would obey him as long as he kept making sensible orders and brought them success, if he failed they would vote him out of office and elect another in his place. For the captain who ruled by force the position was equally precarious, if he failed to lead them successfully he faced mutiny and murder.
The duties of the lieutenant were more or less to act as the captain's deputy. He commanded in the captain's absence, often took command of prizes, and during battle should have positioned himself in the forecastle while the captain was on the quarter- or poop-deck.
The boatswain (or bosun) was one of the most important men aboard any sailing vessel. He was responsible for "...all the ropes in general belonging to the ship: with all her cables, anchors, and sails; her flags, colours and pendants...". He was also responsible for making sure every man was correctly on watch and at his station. During battle it was a small group of the best seamen under the command of the boatswain and his mates (if he had any) who saw to the sailing of the ship while most of the crew worked the cannons. On many ships the boatswain was also responsible for discipline. In some ships the boatswain also took on the duties of master gunner.
The gunner's duties included taking charge of all the ship's cannon, ensuring they were properly maintained and that the crews were trained in their use. He was responsible for ensuring all the gun ports were closed in bad weather and for making sure all guns were secured. In battle the gunner would often be near the helm, advising the helmsman on how to steer so as to be able to aim the ship's artillery better.
The carpenter was an officer responsible for the maintenance of the ship below the deck level (including the hull, decks, bulkheads etc), in the same way that the boatswain was responsible for everything above the deck. He was responsible for replacing damaged or worn masts and yards, repairing or replacing the rudder or any other timber which needed it and for stopping leaks. Carpenters were usually experienced seamen as well as tradesmen, and often enjoyed a similar rank to boatswains.
A sailor was one of the lowest ranking man on board. He usually did whatever there was to do. some of these mates were cooks, look outs or manned canons.