PHOTO: PD: S/V ALEXANDER HUMBOLT, Named for the Oceanographer
NAUTICAL CLASSICS Updated and links redone 12/3/2015The books found within this section may also appear individually under other sections such as "Navigation" or "Seamanship." Within this section, the Nautical Classics, we include the titles in navigation, seamanship, sea power, and history that all maritime professionals should be acquainted with. Often professionals whose careers start at one of the federal or state naval or maritime academies encounter all of these in their undergraduate course work. Some of these titles are on Coast Guard suggested reading lists or source lists for professional examination questions. Most of these titles would easily qualify in a legal sense as "authoritative literature." However some of the classics on seamanship deal largely with technologies which are of limited utility in this era of containerized cargo and bulk carriers. Many of the classics on commercial seamanship are focused on "break bulk" technology, the carriage of individual bundles, bales, and boxes of cargo. This form of shipping is unlikely to ever entirely disappear particularly in inter-island trades and unimproved ports in the underdeveloped world. However it must be noted that break bulk is greatly diminished in the developed world which has developed a sort of hub and spoke system of global manufactured item transport centered on inter-modal containers. Bulk commodities such as grain and coal are largely carried in bulk carriers which take on the cargo totally unpackaged. Additionally it should be noted that classics on sea power are still debated in forums such as the U.S. Naval Institute.
In our descriptions of the "classics" we also include a few not so classic but well known books that some readers may be tempted to substitute for the classics or to use as an introduction to one or more of the classics. We identify such books in the text of our descriptions. One key to classic status is that the true "classics" have had a long run on the Coast Guard's various suggested reading lists, especially those associated with the preparation for undertaking the Coast Guard administered merchant marine occupational credentialing examinations. As we are preparing this section, the Coast Guard has become embroiled in a controversy over the contracting out of the examination question data base associated with these occupational examinations. We have taken pains to try and describe the most probable effect that a new examination set will have in terms of the "classics" as we describe each individual volume. The National Mariners Association (NMA) has made written complaint to the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS OIG). You can read the full text of the NMA complaint with all attachments on our January 11, 2012 Blog entry titled "The Controversy over the Contract for Updating the Coast Guard's Examination Question Data Base" Look for the "Blog" button to your right and click on 2012..
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CHAPMAN'S PILOTING SEAMANSHIP AND SMALL BOAT HANDLING
This book first written by Charles Chapman decades ago is frequently updated under the authority of the copyright holder Motorboating Magazine or their successors. The below link will take you to an on line source for both the latest edition and a number of available past editions plus numerous reviews of the work past and present. if you are in search of a professional reference for your personal library, or researching for current on going litigation you will want the latest edition. However the latest edition is not always the best choice for examination preparation since Coast Guard examinations such as the Motorboat Operator license examination aren't updated annually, the questions may come out of an older edition. Sometimes things change or particular material may be dropped in later editions. many nautical professionals first obtain a "Chapman's" when first preparing for a Coast Guard administered professional examination, then obtain an up dated version several times over the space of a career always retaining the previous versions.
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KNIGHT'S MODERN SEAMANSHIP, AKA: "MODERN SEAMANSHIP
by Austin Melvin Knight
Knight's Modern Seamanship, 18th Edition is the latest edition of this classic of the nautical arts and sciences. Originally prepared using an official U.S. Navy publication as a primary source by Austin Melvin Knight and published by D. Van Nastrand Company of New Yourk in 1917 the original of this classic passed long ago into the public domain of formerly copyrighted publications. It has apparently been revised by various editors working for various publishers eighteen times, the latest version we are aware of is the eighteenth edited by Captain John V. Noel, USN (ret.) around 1988. Buyers of this classic should be aware that numerous earlier versions especially the tenth are on the market with quite modern looking covers. One publisher actually publishes the original 1917 version in paperback under a very modern looking cover.Collectors can probably find any of the various editions through our link to Amazon.com but beware determining which version you are buying requires some reading within the window at Amazon for this publication.
Serious students of the nautical arts and sciences, especially those studying for the Coast Guard administered U.S. Merchant Marine credential examinations should obtain and study the 18th edition or later if anything later becomes available. The eighteenth edition is a bit obsolete in certain areas such as electronic navigation. The electronic navigation section deals with such obsolete systems as LORAN and OMEGA, and speaks of the now dominant GPS system in a futuristic sense. Cargo operations also are insufficient except for "break bulk" type systems.While most dry cargo movements in the developed world now move via intermodal shipping container "break bulk" technology (the handling of individual pallets, bundles, bales, boxes, and barrels of cargo) is not obsolete. Under developed ports, war ravaged ports, specialized operations such as the logistic support of offshore oil rigs, small island services, and other less than container load trades assure a minor but continuing role for break bulk cargo technology. Consequently professional mariners should expect to see "break bulk" cargo technology questions on their professional advancement examinations for years to come.
The Coast Guard's Merchant Marine occupational credentialing examination question base is seriously aged and at the moment no doubt reflects a number of obsolete practices. Knight's Modern Seamanship is considered a legitimate source of questions for the exams. In late 2011 the Coast Guard contracted for a new examination question base. However given that Knight's Modern Seamanship is considered "authoritative literature", a "standard reference", and a "standard of instruction" it is highly likely that questions will be drawn from the latest edition of this classic of the nautical arts and sciences. This publication has been on the Coast Guard's suggested reading list for their own deck petty officer rating advancement exams in the recent past and may continue there.
There is no central coordination between those who update the classics, and those who prepare nautical professional examinations and courses of instruction. However what makes the classics "classic" is their long acceptance and periodic updating. It would be a poor bet to assume that professional examinations and courses of instruction into the indefinite future will not draw on publications like "Knight's Modern Seamanship". Publications such as Knight's are part of every professional mariner's reading list and should be part of every professional mariner's personal professional reference collection. Such publications should not be viewed as a substitute for a recently prepared or regularly updated examination guide such as the examination guides of Marine Education Textbooks (MET), the well known "Blue Books". Such guides are based on close study of the most recent Coast Guard examination question base as best that it can be determined, and help those preparing for advancement exams to avoid spending unproductive time on obsolete technologies not tested for. This of course does not mean that obsolete technologies do not periodically appear in either authoritative literature or the exams, just as there are plenty of older vessels around still using older technologies. A professional mariner should be able to operate all but the most antique technology, and that includes handling a vessel of modern design under oars and sails.
We have included two Amazon links for those interested in Knight's Modern Seamanship. One is for the eighteenth edition, the latest we are aware of, which we recommend to professional mariners. The other leads to a variety of earlier versions. Don't be confused by modern covers and publication dates well into the 21st century. Read each offering carefully, generally these are recent reprints of earlier editions especially numbers 1 through 10. If you are a collector the good news is that you can probably collect every edition from later prints. The bad news is that originals are probably worth a bit less because of all of the reprints. The latest edition of Knight's Modern Seamanship belongs in every professional mariner's personal library.
KNIGHTS MODERN SEAMANSHIP OTHER OFFERS AND BACK ISSSUES
AMERICAN MERCHANT SEAMAN'S MANUAL
by William B. Hayler, John M. Keever, and Paul M. Seller
This is another classic of the nautical arts and sciences. This manual is considered authoritative literature, and a standard of instruction. It has been a source of Coast Guard administered Merchant Mariner occupational document examinations. To the traditional American deep sea merchant mariner parts may appear dated. Many of the "classics" upon which courses of instruction and occupational license examinations are based don't reflect the dramatic shift to container cargo operations. However those preparing for professional exams should own this book for two reasons. First, at this writing (2012) the American Bureau of Shipping which was awarded a contract in 2011 by the Coast Guard to update the question data base for merchant mariner examinations, has not yet produced the new data base. The Coast Guard is probably still a couple of years away from producing new examinations. Consequently the present examinations will feature many break bulk cargo operations questions. "Break bulk" refers to the individual handling of bundles, bales, pallets, and boxes, of cargo vice complete shipments in sealed intermodal containers that are moved sealed from ship, to truck, or box car, and delivered to destination with minimal handling. Second, break bulk technology is still in use in many trade areas especially in the under developed world, less than container load trades, inter-island trades, and our own offshore and oil and mineral industry support fleet still moves drilling equipment and supplies as on deck cargo that is rarely packed in containers.
When the new tests come out we expect to see more container questions but also continuing break bulk related questions. Applicants for the offshore service vessel trades should expect break bulk type questions, some from this source and the related American Merchant Officers Manual simply because there is no offshore service vessel literature that has obtained the stature of this work as authoritative literature. The leading institution providing formal training to offshore oil and mineral industry support fleet personnel is the Louisiana Marine and Petroleum Institute located in Houma, Louisiana. This school would probably be an excellent source of offshore service vessel specific instructional materials but nothing has been published yet,
Marlinespike seamanship is another area where this reference may be a bit dated. A great deal of attention is paid to working with right laid three strand line and fiber core wire rope. Today there are many more double braided artificial fiber lines in use with quite different splicing methods, and few seamen actually do much splicing of wire anymore. However right laid three strand line and wire rope are not going to disappear from deck anytime soon. Moreover any vessel operating for a protracted time away from American ship chandlers may find itself cut off from supplies of prefabricated wire slings, and eyed lengths. The Coast Guard administered occupational examinations present, or the anticipated ones of the near future, are highly likely to contain questions related to these skills.
The professional mariner will find this a useful reference for many purposes beyond license examination preparation. This "classic" belongs in the professional literature collection of all American commercial mariners at or above the grade of Able Seaman.
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MERCHANT MARINE OFFICER'S HANDBOOK
edited by William B. Hayler
This is the standard of instruction at the federal and various state merchant marine academies and a primary source of questions for the existing Coast Guard occupational license examinations. Long considered "authoritative literature" it is bound to be a continuing source of examination questions in the future despite being somewhat dated. As is the case with most of the classic literature encompassing more than one aspect of the nautical arts and sciences, some things change, yet technologies thought to be eclipsed still hang on. This work has some elements of deck seamanship in common with the AMERICAN MERCHANT SEAMAN'S MANUAL, also edited in part by William B. Hayler. Like the seaman's manual there is too little information on container cargo operations and a lot of detail on break bulk cargo operations (the handling of bundles, bales, pallets, barrels, and other cargo units without the use of intermodal shipping containers). The electronic navigation section is a bit dated. The ships business and law section doesn't reflect the shift to electronic reporting of the data required for entry, pratique, and clearance or the revised timetables for reporting since 2001. However this book is still an excellent overview of the daily routine and duties of the ship's officer and the fundamental skills involved in performing those duties. While the view point is that of a traditional American flag ship engaged in common carriage international trade, officers in the contract trades such as offshore mineral industry logistic support need to be familiar with this book. There is no comparable book related to the offshore service vessel (OSV) industry that has achieved the status of a "standard of instruction," or "authoritative literature"; consequently OSV officer examination questions are as likely to be drawn from this book as traditional "deep sea" license exams. The contractor selected to compile the new examination question base for the U.S. Coast Guard is the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS). The ABS is concerned mostly with common carrier ocean trades and staffed by traditional maritime academy graduates.
The compilers of the new examination questions are highly likely to regard this book highly.
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THE CORNELL MANUAL FOR LIFEBOATMEN, ABLE SEAMAN,
AND QUALIFIED MEMBERS OF THE ENGINE DEPARTMENT
by William Hayler, and John Keever.
Cornell Maritime Press publishes many classic works of maritime authoritative literature including other works by William B. Hayler, John M. Keever, and Paul M. Seiler such as the American Merchant Seaman's Manual, and The Merchant Officer's Handbook. Many of these works were originally prepared by other authors decades before the latest editions bearing the names of these authors who appear to be responsible for editions that appear between 1984 and about 2006. This particular work was first made available as a government publication that was once provided free of charge by the U.S. Coast Guard to applicant's for merchant seamen documents in the grades of "Lifeboatman", a seaman qualified to serve in or take charge of survival craft; Able Seamen, the skilled rating above Ordinary Seaman who by definition are "lifeboatman since the lifeboatman rating test and skill demonstrations are included in the higher rating of Able Seaman or "AB". It should be noted that the term "Able Bodied Seaman" does not exist in U.S. law. All seamen must pass strict physicals and would be considered "able bodied." The designation "Able Seaman" connotes the fact that anyone holding this rating must meet minimum experience requirements and pass written examinations and skill demonstrations. The equivalent of the Able Seaman in the engineering department is the "Qualified Member of the Engine Department" or "QMED."
Several federal budget cuts ago the Coast Guard stopped providing this manual, the Tankerman's Manual, and copies of the Navigation Rules. Fortunately Cornell Maritime Press took up publication of this particular manual and appears to have done a major up date in 1984 and again in 2004. This book is considered authoritative literature, a standard of instruction in maritime academies, maritime trade schools, and junior colleges, and in union schools. At least the earlier government issued version has long been a source of Coast Guard occupational license and document examinations. While in recent years a number of new types of davits or launching devices for life craft have been developed, the older types remain in many services. When the new test question base is developed it may reflect these new lifeboat launching systems even while perhaps drawing from the latest version of this book. Nonetheless the new questions are highly likely to also reflect the tried and true systems still in use and described since the earliest days of this book. This publication is another classic of the nautical arts and sciences that belongs in the professional library of every professional seaman above the Ordinary Seaman's rating. OTHER OFFERS AND EARLIER EDITIONS
DUTTON'S NAUTICAL NAVIGATION
This classic of navigation is distinguished from Bowditch's American Practical Navigator by its highly updated treatment of today's electronic navigation systems. While we can never advise passing over Bowditch's American Practical Navigator in professional test preparation, this latest edition of "Dutton's" is the navigational reference that you want to carry on your navigation bridge. Elements of the old paper chart, sextant in hand systems of navigation found in the 1926 edition are still there just as the chart table is still found in most pilot houses. However the new "Dutton's" deals with the full range of new electronic navigation technology. GPS is treated like the everyday basic tool that it has become, magnetic compass correction is still dealt with but so are magnetic compasses enhanced by digital flux technology and chronometers linked to atomic clocks. These technologies have not yet (January 2012) found their way onto the Coast Guard administered merchant mariner occupational credential examinations but a new set of examination questions is already contracted out so we should expect these technologies to be reflected in future tests at some point. Regardless of the status of these technologies they are in the pilot houses of everything from naval craft to recreational boats today. This is why we recommend "Dutton's" for the pilot house reference. We also make an additional departure form our normal treatment of the "classics" in any area of nautical endeavor relative to "Dutton's Nautical Navigator," we recommend for those preparing for professional examinations the use of a number of companion study guides and work books that have been designed by a variety of authors to aid in the study of the contents of Dutton's. These study guides, while not "classics" in their own right are described below Dutton's description for the convenience of the reader. We also recommend that reader's preparing for professional exams visit our Test Preparation section before finalizing a list of publications to acquire for test preparation study.
This classic of navigation is published by the non-government Naval Institute. The Naval Institute is an organization of Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard professionals physically located on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While originally founded in the 1870s by Naval Academy faculty the organization is not funded by the government but is operated by member dues, sales of publications, gifts and bequests. The motto of the Naval Institute is "Dare to think, speak, and write." The Institute publishes numerous well received technical works such as "Dutton's," as well as quite a number of important naval and nautical works that will never draw a mass market. These important but less popular scholarly maritime publications are supported by gifts, bequests, and profits from more popular works which in recent years have included very high quality naval fiction. The first incursion of the Naval Institute into fiction was the highly successful The Hunt for Red October by Tom Clancy. American Admiralty Books highly recommends to all nautical professionals including merchant mariners, membership in the Naval Institute. Few other organizations do as much to keep important but little known maritime works in print. There is more about the Naval Institute spread throughout this site, especially in our Naval sections. OTHER OFFERS AND EARLIER EDITIONS
THE AMERICAN PRACTICAL NAVIGATOR
by Nathaniel Bowditch
This is another classic of the nautical arts and sciences, focused mainly on navigation but some chapters are devoted to meteorology, oceanography, safety, and communications. There is far more information on navigation in this text than in the American Merchant Officer's Handbook, but virtually nothing concerning general deck seamanship, marlinespike seamanship, ship's business and law, and many other subjects covered in The Merchant Marine Officer's Handbook,or Knight's Modern Seamanship. This book is a standard of instruction and often the actual textbook in many formal navigation courses. While most sections of the Coast Guard administered Merchant Marine occupational license examinations require that 70% or more of the questions be answered correctly; Navigation and the Rules to Prevent Collision ("NAVRULES") require a minimum passing score of 90%. This is why most professional mariners own both "Bowditch",as the book is commonly referred to, and either Knights Modern Seamanship or The Merchant Officer's Handbook. All are standards of instruction and have long been sources of Coast Guard examination questions. However, with navigation being a subject requiring a minimum score of 90% just to pass, the officer license applicant can't afford to be without the detailed navigational information of Bowditch.
During the 18th century the most popular textbook on navigation was The New Practical Navigator by John Hamilton Moore. Edward M. Blunt, a publisher residing in Newburyport, Massachusetts decided to issue an updated edition for American navigators. Blunt hired locally well known navigator and mathematician Nathaniel Bowditch to revise and update the work. Blunt's New Practical Navigator was published in 1799 with another revised edition in 1800. By 1802 Blunt was ready to publish a third revised edition but by that time Bowditch had made so many revisions of Moore's work that Blunt decided to publish the work as the first edition of a new navigational text. The New American Practical Navigator proved to be the first edition of a long series of editions of The American Practical Navigator or simply "Bowditch" that continues to this day. In 1867 the heirs of Blunt sold the rights to the book to the U.S. Government which continues to publish the work to this day, revising and updating as needed. No professional mariner at the officer level is not familiar with "Bowditch."
The story of the publication is quite interesting and lengthy. Above this listing we have placed a hyperlink to the Wkipedia article on the work, as well as the link to Amazon .com for those who may wish to purchase the book. Prices vary between new hard and soft cover versions, used versions, if not too old, are still quite useful but officer license applicants will want to make sure their version is new enough to contain GPS and other updated technologies in the electronic navigation section. Check out the story of this legendary text and get a detailed description of its chapters at the Wikipedia hyperlink.
PRIMER OF NAVIGATION
WITH PROBLEMS IN PRACTICAL WORK AND COMPLETE TABLES
(7th edition) by George W. Mixter and Herroll E. Healley
ISBN -10: 0393035085 and ISBN -13:978-0393035087*
*We have included the hard and soft bound International Book Binding Numbers (ISBN) for this volume to help assure that those purchasing obtain the 7th edition. We also caution the purchaser to check with the vendor to assure that there has not been a later edition. This ISBN number will also aid the reader who wants to find this book on a library loan.
Despite the word "primer" in the title this is a 602 page book. Far from being "Dutton's light" it is a rather complete navigational guide in and of itself which owes much to Dutton's Nautical Navigation. The book was first published in 1940 and is now in it's seventh edition published in 1995. Unfortunately this makes the electronic navigational sections somewhat obsolete in comparison to the Naval Institute's "Dutton's." It is however easier reading and comes with sample navigational problems for the student to work out and tables pertinent to the problem eliminating having to find old sight reduction tables to work the problems. While the reviewers at Amazon's listing for this book refer to it as a "classic" we find it a bit short of that definition simply because it has not been sighted as authoritative literature as often as "Dutton's" to which it owes a lot, nor is it a standard of instruction, though it is highly structured towards self instruction. It is an old reliable work, much preferred by may yachtsmen and recreational boaters that has no doubt been of use to professionals engaged in self directed navigational studies and if updated more frequently may be on its way to becoming a classic. None of the navigational texts are books that the reader can simply read through and discard. This may be one that some readers may want to try look over as a library loan first, especially if considering its purchase in lieu of the classic American Practical Navigator and Dutton's Nautical Navigation. In the small print below the title the reader may note the International Book Binding Numbers (ISBN) for this publication. Often nautical texts and references are not available at your local county or municipal library. Any library may find most any book in print for you through an inter- library loan. Inter- library loans are often necessary when wanting to look over nautical technical literature. ISBN numbers are found near the bottom of most of the linked Amazon.com book listings with the name of the publisher and other useful information. Of all of the information needed to identify a book, the ISBN number is often the most useful and universal tool.
OTHER OFFERS AND EARLIER EDITIONS
AMAZON'S MARINE NAVIGATION BOOK SHELF
AMAZON'S MARINE NAVIGATION BOOK SHELF