Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


Daily there are hundreds of United States Navy vessels operating in foreign, international and domestic waters. The knowledge of admiralty law possessed by the officers on these vessels is extremely limited. Prospective Commanding Officers of Navy vessels are trained in areas of international and maritime law, but not in cases involving admiralty. If a United States naval vessel is involved in an admiralty incident, the only recourse the Commanding Officer has is to contact his superior and wait for word from the Staff Judge Advocate representative. It is not necessary for Commanding Officers to be experts on admiralty matters in order to know what to do in certain situations. In international law, Commanding Officers are not experts; however, they are given a working knowledge on which decisions can be based. This paper will present basic concepts of admiralty law that directly affect United States naval vessels in everyday operations. It is not designed to replace Chapter 12 of the Judge Advocate General's Manual concerning Admiralty Claims, but rather to supplement that instruction with explanations of basic concepts and illustrative examples. Commanding Officers are advised to consult Chapter 12 of the JAG Manual for specific guidance on United States Navy admiralty procedures; this paper should only be referred to on an informational basis.