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The Merchant Navy of the Empire of Barrayar is the fleet of Barrayar civilian-owned merchant vessels, operated by either the government or the private sector, that engage in commerce or transportation of goods and services in and out of the Empire of Barrayar. The merchant navy is therefore responsible for transporting cargo and passengers during peacetime. In time of war, the Merchant Navy is as a whole requested to operate as an auxiliary to the Imperial Service, and can be called upon to deliver military personnel and materials for the military. The Merchant Navy itself is not a military organization, nor is it an auxiliary to the Imperial Service during peacetime, and merchants themselves are not military personnel. The ships are owned by various shipping companies, mostly Komarran ones. Most of the shipping operations in the Barrayaran Empire are run as a family business, especially on Komarr, with family members located in key ports or in key positions, and with marriages cementing relationships between commercial dynasties. These close-knit families have allowed financially sensitive information to be kept within the Barrayaran-Komarran business community, with many transactions kept within trusted family networks. The merchant navy complex of Barrayar includes also construction industries, both of Komarran and Barrayaran origins. However, albeit there are several Barrayaran corporation of significant size, the large majority of this economic sector is based on Komarr.
The whole set of the Merchant Navy moves cargo and passengers between planets and within the Empire, operates and maintains long-range cargo ships, freighters and support craft, ferries, excursion vessels, and other spacecraft. Being a conglomerate of numerous civilian corporations, the places of origin of spacecrafts vary widely; the large part of the spacecrafts operated by merchants from the Empire is built within the Imperial borders, but Illyrican, Betan or other planets ships are not uncommon in the merchant fleets and convoys. The Government of the Empire of Barrayar maintains fleets of merchant ships via organizations such as the Military Defence Reserve Fleet and the Imperial Merchant Fleet; the Government employs approximately 5% of all Barrayaran merchant transportation workers.
Legally, activities relating to merchant shipping in the Empire of Barrayar are regulated by the Code of navigation. Structurally, the Navigation Code is divided into preliminary provisions and three parts, specifically: navigation, criminal and disciplinary provisions and transitional and complementary provisions. The Merchant Navy of Barrayar is overseen by the Ministry of Public Works, Posts and Communications and, for what regards the escort to convoys, by the Imperial Service. In order to lawfully carry out trade, a merchant (both independent trader or powerful corporation) must obtain an Imperial Merchant Charter from the Department of Transportations, which allows it to operate. Not all Merchant Licenses offer the same terms, as some offer more powers and more trade concessions to particularly favoured concessionaires.
Former military officers with extensive space-borne experience (such as former starship commanders, first officers, chief engineers, etc.) are permitted to apply directly for a senior officer license without holding a lower prerequisite license.

Crew Edit

Ship crews work under the eyes of the officers. Other duties aboard ship are performed by the ship's carpenter, the cooks, the stewards, the quartermaster who steers the ship, and the below-decks crew, often referred to as "greasers". Space-faring vessels with more than 12 passengers or crew are required to have a doctor aboard. As a strict rule, no ship enrolled in the Barrayaran registers can have a foreign Commander, and and at least the 50% of the crew must be from the Empire. In each section (Deck, Engines, Sickbay and Commissariat), the percentages must be observed as well as in the overall crew.

Crew hierarchy Edit

The hierarchy of crew members is as follows:

  1. Commander;
  2. Chief Engineer, Ship's Doctor and Director of the health service;
  3. Chief Mate and Second-in-command, Second Chief Engineer;
  4. First Mate, First Engineer Officer;
  5. First Doctor, First Commissioner;
  6. Second Mate, Second Engineer Officer;
  7. Second Deck Officer, Second Commissioner;
  8. Third Deck Officer, Third Engineer Officer;
  9. Third Officer, Third Commissioner;
  10. Student Mate/Engineer Officer;
  11. Boatswain, Chief Petty Officer;
  12. Second Boatswain, Master at Arms;
  13. Cook, Storeroom Petty Officer, Mechanic, Carpenter, Charger, Electrician;
  14. First Cloakroom Petty Officer, Typographer, Office Assistant;
  15. Deckhand, Machine Sailor, Servant;
  16. Second Cook, Washer-man;
  17. Youngsters and Ships' boys.

The pilot during the period in which they serve on board is treated as the chief mate. Merchant officers get their promotions after a 2 years service period and after 6 months of studies and exams at the authorized centres. All ship departments answer to the Ship's Commander. Within each department there exists a department head and upwards of two additional licensed officers (sometimes more on larger vessels). Licensed warrant officers and crewmen comprise the remainder of departmental personnel.

Ship's Commander Edit

A Ship's Commander (referred to as "Captain") commands and manages all ship's personnel, and is in charge of the ship's accounting, payrolls, and inventories. The captain is responsible for compliance with immigration and customs regulations, maintaining the ship's certificates and documentation and compliance with the vessel's security plan. The captain is responsible for responding to and reporting in case of accidents and incidents, and in case of injuries and illness among the ship's crew and passengers.
A ship's captain must have a master's license. A candidate for an unlimited master's license requires several years of space-going experience as a deck officer and must have completed various nautical studies.
The captain ensures that the ship complies with local laws and complies also with company policies.
The captain is ultimately responsible, under the law, for aspects of operation such as the safe navigation of the ship, its cleanliness and space-worthiness, safe handling of all cargo, management of all personnel, inventory of ship's cash and stores, and maintaining the ship's certificates and documentation. One of a captain's particularly important duties is to ensure compliance with the vessel's security plan. The plan, customized to meet the needs of each individual ship, spells out duties including conducting searches and inspections, maintaining restricted spaces, and responding to threats from terrorists, hijackers, pirates, and stowaways, as well as dealing with Imperial Service escorts to convoys. The security plan also covers topics such as refugees and asylum seekers, smuggling, and saboteurs.
The captain is also responsible for satisfying requirements of the local immigration and customs officials. Immigration issues can include situations such as embarking and disembarking passengers, handling crew members who desert the ship, making crew-changes in port, and making accommodations for foreign crew members. Customs requirements can include the master providing a cargo declaration, a ship's stores declaration, a declaration of crew members' personal effects, crew lists and passenger lists. The captain acts as a liaison to local investigators and is responsible for providing complete and accurate logbooks, reports, statements and evidence to document an incident.

Deck Officers and Mates Edit

There are a wide variety of licenses for deck officers, with restrictions of range and tonnage. Spacer licenses range from large to small vessels. Smaller charter boat operators may have a charter boat license or a certificate. Licenses without such restrictions are called "Unlimited". The grades of unlimited licenses are:

  • Master's License for Commanders and lower grades. A Master Spacer is the professional qualification required for someone to serve as the unlimited commander of a commercial vessel. It is the highest level of professional qualification amongst spacers. The holder of a restricted Master's certificate is not referred to as a "Master Spacer". An unrestricted master's certificate is colloquially called a "Master's Ticket" or simply "Master's".
  • Chief Mate's License for Chief Mates and lower grades.
  • Second Mate's License qualifies the holder as Second Mate or Third Mate.
  • Third Mate's License qualifies the holder as third mate.

The Deck Department is considered the "line" department of a merchant space craft. Personnel of the operations department oversee all active space operations of the vessel, to include space navigation and ship administration. Licensed officers comprised a hierarchy of "Mates" who also serve as the chain of command for the vessel, answering to the Commander. The Chief Mate of a merchant craft fulfils all the regular duties of a military Executive Officer.

Ship's security Edit

On board security operations are handled by a variety of organizations, ranging from the ship's crew to the Service Security, the latter especially if the ship is operated by the government or it is assigned important and/or sensitive tasks. The Security Officer (usually ranking Chief Mate on larger ships) is responsible for the safety and security of the ship and its passengers, crew, and cargo. Typically he and his subordinates are the only officers on the ship trained in the use of weapons beyond the conscription training. Most sailors never learn how to use one, since they have little need for weapons.

Security Liaison Officer Edit

Alongside the ship's security organization, every ship which travels far abroad and enjoys a military escort convoy has a Security Liaison Officer. A Security Liaison Officer is essentially a fleet cop, charged with maintaining peace and order among crew and passengers, keeping a surveillance over illegal or treacherous activities or suspicious persons, and a quiet and discrete surveillance for potential disaffection among the Emperor's subjects. Although he is not part of the ship's security strictu sensu, he is obliged to render all possible assistance to the ship in physical emergencies, coordinating evacuation or rescue with the military escort.

Cargomaster Edit

The Cargomaster is the ranking executive and financial officer of a commercial convoy (which usually is a limited-term corporate entity), and as such bears most of the responsibilities of a military admiral, but without the military discipline in support. The Cargomaster also has the task of being the designated interface between the commercial interests, and the Barrayaran military escort.

Careers Edit

Merchant Navy careers begin either with an initial sign-on to a merchant vessel as an basic crew member or through appointment to the Merchant Marine Academy for training as a licensed space mariner. A special class of merchant employee also exists for vessels employing civilian departments (such as waiters, barbers, and other service personnel) who are hired through local employment advertisements and not under Merchant Navy contracts. Civilian scientists and doctors may also be appointed as Merchant Navy officers through a special merchant direct commissioning program, although it is quite uncommon except for physicians.

Imperial Merchant Navy Academy Edit

The Imperial Merchant Navy Academy (IMNA) is the official undergraduate body which trains and educates authorized merchant officers. The Academy is supervised by the Department of Transportations, but it is run and founded by the major shipping and merchant organizations, including the Komarr Shippers' Syndicate, and it has several compounds. It is based in Solstice, Solstice Sector, Komarr, but has some facilities also in Vorbarr Sultana, Vorbarra District, Barrayar, and in Capital City, Sergyar. Academy Students are trained in space engineering, navigation, ship's administration, space law, personnel management, international customs, and many other subjects important to the task of running a ship. To be eligible to enter the Academy a candidate must:

  • Be of proven good moral character.
  • Be at least 18 years of age and less than 25 of age.
  • Be a citizen of the Empire of Barrayar.
  • Meet the physical, security and character requirements necessary for military service.
  • Submit a completed application and qualify scholastically.

It should be noted that the IMNA is an umbrella organization established in order to easier control educational services provided by private investors; on the other hand, jump-space pilots are trained into different educational facilities, which fall outside the scope of the Imperial Merchant Navy Academy.

Curriculum Edit

Freshmen start in early summer where they begin a two and a half week indoctrination period. This period is functionally run by older students but is overseen by officers of the Imperial Service who are part of the Commandant of Midshipman's staff. This high stress period involves physical training, marching, and an intensive introduction to regimental life at the academy. After the indoctrination period is completed, the academic year begins. In early fall (the exact date varies), first-year students officially become part of the regiment upon taking the oath of office into the Imperial Service Reserve. Until "recognized" later in the academic year, plebes continue to be required to adhere to stringent rules affecting most aspects of their daily life. After earning it, the plebes are recognized giving them the title of Midshipmen, which gives them more privileges.
For part of junior years, students work as cadets on regular merchant ships. Midshipmen are typically paired two to a ship, one engineering cadet and one deck cadet. Midshipmen work and function as part of the crew and gain an opportunity for generous amounts of hands-on experience as well as the opportunity to travel abroad to many different foreign ports. The average midshipman travels to 20 planets during this period. Toward the end of the last year, midshipmen prepare for exams to be licensed as either Third Engineer Officer or Third Deck Officer. All merchant officers must be licensed by the Space Forces.
Academy students focus on one of two different ship transport areas of education: transportation or engineering.
Transportation students learn about ship navigation, cargo handling, navigation rules and space law. There are currently six different academic majors available to midshipmen. Three of them are referred to as "Deck Majors" because in addition to a Bachelor of Science degree in the major field of study: Space Transportation, Logistics and Intermodal Transportation, and Operations and Technology; upon successful completion of the examination students are issued a Third Deck Officer License.
Engineering students learn about the function of the ship's engines and its supporting systems. The other three majors available curricula are referred to as "Engine Majors"; they are: Engineering, Engineering Systems, and Engineering and Shipyard Management. "Engine Majors" sit for and upon successful completion of the examination are issued Third Engineer Officer Licenses. Operations and Technology majors, also referred to as "Shoppers", are eligible to seek and obtain certification as "Qualified Members of Engine Department". Engineering Systems and Engineering Systems & Shipyard Management graduates are also qualified to sit for the Engineer In Training examination.

Life after graduation Edit

Midshipmen have a wide variety of options upon graduation. Graduates of the IMNA are required to fulfil their obligation on their own by providing annual proof of employment in a wide variety of occupations for a specified period of time. Graduates may choose to fulfil their service obligation by working as licensed officers on Barrayaran merchant vessels, as civilians in the maritime industry, or as active duty officers in the Imperial Service for a period of at least 6 years.

Imperial Merchant Fleet Edit

The Imperial Merchant Fleet is the organization owned and operated by the Government of the Empire tasked to supplement private and military space assets in order to ensure the transport of certain necessary goods in bulk whereas privateer companies are not available or they are not economically interested for the particular shipping. As such, the Imperial Merchant Fleet forms a vital economic link for the Empire and for its foreign policy. The Imperial Merchant Fleet is not a profit-driven private mercantile company, but rather it is a supplement for market failures or inefficiencies.
Unless there's an emergency of some sort requiring high speed and a potential military response, the Logistics Command lets the Imperial Merchant Fleet transport goods and people. Even in grave emergencies, the Imperial Merchant Fleet often follows right behind the military assets in bringing goods, medicines (especially to Sergyar in past decades) or military support to a garrison under attack.

Organization Edit

The Imperial Merchant Fleet ultimately answers to the Council of Ministers. Actual direction of the Imperial Merchant Fleet falls to the Department of Transportations. Daily command of the Imperial Merchant Fleet is vested in a Merchant Admiral; currently, Merchant Admiral Samuel Yarborough, holds the position. Quite often the Merchant Admiral has military experience, but it is common that the post serves as the pinnacle of a successful mercantile career for a civilian captain. The Merchant Admiral is responsible for seeing that the Imperial Merchant Fleet fleet is properly and efficiently deployed, for ensuring that all ships are sufficiently maintained and staffed, and for evaluating requests for Imperial Merchant Fleet assistance and prioritizing them. To help him with these tasks he has a staff consisting of several Merchant Vice-Admirals and lesser officers, bureaucrats, and functionaries. The Merchant Admiral is head-quartered in Solstice City, Komarr; his headquarters facilities include a large starport and extensive starship repair bays.
The Imperial Merchant Fleet organization more or less follows "astrographical" lines. The ships which serve a particular system or foreign sector comprise a particular Imperial Merchant Squadron. Each such Imperial Merchant Squadron is commanded by a Merchant Vice-Admiral, to whom the captains of the Imperial Merchant Squadron's ships report. Usually a Imperial Merchant Squadron remains in its designated territory, but on occasion it is necessary to assemble several Squadrons for an important task (such as supplying the Imperial Service ships in time of war). Independent merchants may be called upon to serve under the Vice-Admiral of their sector in emergencies and usually report any rumours of pirates or navigational hazards to his office.

Related voices Edit

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