Wednesday, October 23, 2013


THE WARSHIP'S CREW To read the entire series so far in order of occurrence click here:

File:Berner Iustitia.jpg  While war ships and their boats enjoy immunity from the sovereign power of the host state while visiting foreign nations we've already seen how the ship's aircraft could lose the immunity of the ship if operated off the ship while in port. Air craft are viewed in international law as state property, treated with respect by host nations but not with the unusual immunity of the warship. An ambassador enjoys personal immunity from the sovereign power of the host state in his person and in his residence. Though we often call American sailors "blue jacket ambassadors" their personal status once ashore in a foreign port is about the same as any other tourist unless we have a "status of forces" agreement with the host nation. Sailors visit many places where we do not have "status of forces" agreements. Even where we do have them no status of forces agreements give U.S. military personnel immunity from the police powers of the host nation. So having described the immunity of the war ship the officers and crew arrived on let's now look at the status of the crew.

 The status of a war ship's crew depends on whether they are aboard or ashore. If ashore, a warship's crewman's status is dependent on duty status. The warship's compliment (crew) is totally immune from the sovereignty of the host nation while on board. When crew members of a war ship are dispatched ashore in foreign territory on official business it is customary for the host state authorities to waive all jurisdiction over them. This is a point of customary, but not codified, international law.

 The status of a warship's crew ashore is an unsettled point of International Law. The tendency today is for the host state to assume jurisdiction. This is modified somewhat in a number of foreign ports where U.S. forces are stationed or call with some frequency by "status of forces" agreements, treaty, or executive agreements.

 Shore patrols should not be landed except with the consent of the host state. If landed, shore patrols should be unarmed. If a shore patrol is landed the host state can order their withdrawal at anytime. It is imperative that the officers or chiefs in charge of such a shore patrol fully instruct all members in the scope of their authority and their relations with foreign nationals and officials.


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