Monday, October 21, 2013


WARSHIPS ENTERING TERRITORIAL WATERS: To read the entire series so far in order of occurrence click here:

File:Berner Iustitia.jpg   While warships enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial seas, coastal states have the right to exclude warships from internal waters and ports. However, it is customary for coastal states to allow for naval visits in peace time. Such visits, however, must be arranged through proper channels. The NATO  states have extensive :naval visits agreements". These agreements expedite the port visit procedure and provide for arrangements through naval rather than diplomatic channels. In other than NATO states the usual procedure is to secure permission through regularly established diplomatic channels.

 Once in port, officers of the deck need a through  understanding  of the immunities of warships. Some of these immunities are codified by international convention. Most, however, are the result of customary international law. Many of these immunities are widely agreed on. Others occasionally have been the subject of controversy.


 A warship, plainly and simply is not subject to the authorities of the host state. Police and port officials are not entitled to board without permission of the commanding officer. A commanding officer is never required to submit to a search of his ship.

 The boats of a warship are entitled to the same immunities as the ship itself, a point every coxswain needs to bear in mind. The claim of immunity for the boat requires that the national ensign always be flown during daylight hours. Ships aircraft can become a more complex issue.
As long as they stay aboard the warship, they are part of the warship and share its immunity. Military aircraft, however, do not enjoy the same status as warships in and of themselves. Such immunity as military aircraft do enjoy is based solely on their status as state property. Consequently, if a ship's aircraft leaves the ship during a port visit its status as part of the ship may be considered diminished by some states.

The total immunity of a warship is no license for misbehavior. A visiting warship customarily follows all port regulations relative to speed, traffic control, sanitation and pollution controls. Enforcing these rules is by means of a complaint lodged through diplomatic channels by the host state. While in port, officers and junior officers of the deck, boatswain's mates of the watch, and coxswains should acquaint themselves with the rules that apply to their areas of responsibility, and should observe and enforce them.


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