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MARINER’S UNIFORM

MERCHANT NAVY UNIFORMS (history)

Aspiring cadets and seamen are always fascinated by the way a Merchant Marine Officer dress ups in his uniform, hence I would like to present a better picture of various uniforms in trend in history as well as in modern times.

Uniforms display rank and are a source of pride for their wearers.Many members of the Merchant Navy were never required to wear a uniform. Uniforms came into popular culture of Merchant navy when large shipping companies which carried passengers started using systems of stripes and badges. These helped to identify crew from passengers, officers from seamen or ratings, as well as encouraging discipline, this was the birth of Merchant Navy uniforms in Britain and part of Europe.

In India till date we are using the same Merchant Navy cap badges that were issued in 1940,In great Britain.However the official uniform insignia issued by Admiralty,Britain, Is not in popular culture, many companies at the same time retained their badges that were in popular culture, these uniforms were always kept optional,Hence it is well understood that uniforms were exclusively made for Royal Navy ( Naval force ) and were optional for the administration of Merchant Navy in particular Nation,upon the companies and administration under which they serve.These uniforms closely resemble to those of the Royal Navy.Ratings/seamen were also given certain uniforms but could never come into popular culture due to lack in the part of shipping companies,there was no uniform in the Merchant Navy – merely a small lapel button with the letters MN on it.

As pointed out by shadypirates :
A sailors’ work clothes did not differ very greatly from those worn by peasants on land, except for the coat or jerkin in place of the doublet. Certainly there was nothing that could be described as any sort of general uniform which differentiated the seaman from the landsman, or even was common amongst all seaman, “every man dressed as seemed good in his eyes” Sailor here refers to ratings and seamen.
Prior to 1748 officers, and captains of ships in particular, had worn what they pleased. It has been recorded that one captain had worn a plain black tailcoat and a white top hat. This type of headgear may seem out of place at sea but was commonly worn until 1850 or later.

Merchant Navy Insignia issued in 1940s by Admiralty,Britain.

Merchant Navy Insignia issued in 1940s by Admiralty,Britain.

MERCHANT NAVY BUTTONS 

These buttons depict, how buttons were used in uniforms of a Merchant Navy Officer,these were similar to Royal Navy buttons.
Four of a set of twelve circular brass buttons for a Merchant Navy officer’s uniform. The raised design depicts a slightly modified naval crown before an anchor within a braided rope surround. The reverse displays a maker’s mark – R. Macleod (6) Rd 664376. The naval crown, of alternate sterns and topsails, dates back to the early 18th century and is also known as Nelson’s crown, as it was used to commemorate his victory at Copenhagen in 1801. The official uniform of the Merchant Navy was introduced by the Board of Trade in 1918. An officer’s uniform jacket displays eight brass buttons running vertically down the front in two rows, while six buttons distinguish those who are not officers. picture will be posted along the article.( buttons history source:Swansea Museum,landore)

Buttons issued to Merchant Navy Officers.

Buttons issued to Merchant Navy Officers.

CAP BADGE AND BADGES

various kinds of badges were in popular use, but most popular ones were as depicted below,by commonwealth,of which India is also a part of.

Badges issued by Canada.

Badges issued by Canada.

COMPANY CAP BADGE.

A very popular cap badge of British Tanker company, BP Shipping today. Companies often used to assign their own badges.

cap badge issued by British Tanker Company, BP Shipping of today.

cap badge issued by British Tanker Company, BP Shipping of today.

Merchant Navy Officers in Uniform

CAPTAIN EDWARD SMITH OF RMS TITANIC. WITH FIRST OFFICER AND CHIEF OFFICER.

OFFICERS IN UNIFORM

OFFICERS IN UNIFORM

COLOURS IN INSIGNIA (COLOUR BETWEEN STRIPES)

I have done a through study of Uniform trends in Merchant Navy since its inception, there are quite a few amazing facts regarding these uniforms and insignias. This article is written for fellow Seafarers and aspiring Seafarers, to know and understand the complex system under which the merchant navy works and demonstrates its golden stripes.

- Cadet Abhishek Tiwari (marine_observer)

COLOUR IN INSIGNIA AND ITS SIGNIFICANCE :

Different trades of Officers wear different insignia,although the basic system of stripes remains same for equivalent ranks on the vessel. This insignia is quite useful in identifying Officers from different trades especially on cruise/passenger ships where there is a large crew onboard.

COLOURS GIVEN TO VARIOUS DEPARTMENT ARE AS FOLLOWS:

* DECK OFFICERS OR NAVIGATING OFFICERS OR SHIP’S OFFICERS :    FULL GOLDEN STRIPES. NO COLOUR.

* ENGINEER OFFICERS:     GOLDEN STRIPES WITH PURPLE COLOUR INBETWEEN.

* ELECTRICAL OFFICERS :      GOLDEN STRIPES WITH GREEN COLOUR INBETWEEN.

* MEDICAL OFFICERS :      GOLDEN STRIPES WITH RED COLOUR INBETWEEN.

* PURSER OR CHIEF STEWARD OR HOSPITALITY DEPT:     GOLDEN STRIPES WITH WHITE COLOUR INBETWEEN.

Theory behind purple colour for Engineers :

In 1865 it was decided that British naval engineers would wear a purple,that colour coding transferred to the British Merchant navy engineer officers,this is sometimes also said that it is a devoted symbol for engineers in Titanic with their purple boiler suits.This was particularly a Royal Navy thing in the past and later transfered to the British Merchant Navy, and came to India, as commonwealth Nation.

colours between braids.

colours between braids.

POPULAR STRIPES WITH DIAMOND.

This insignia is in popular,in Merchant Navy. Indian administration approves this insignia,as DG Shipping regulations state that diamond can only be used for Officers having certificate of competency (COC), Unless DG Shipping permits anyone to do so.

This is a picture by The Nautical Institute, second Officer insignia, with stripes and diamond.

This is a picture by The Nautical Institute, second Officer insignia, with stripes and diamond.

INSIGNIA, DECK DEPT. WITHOUT DIAMOND.

These insignias don’t have diamond, usually officers will have diamond at the first stripe. except trainee officers or cadets.

insignia used by deck department, without diamond.

insignia used by deck department, without diamond.

INSIGNIA,ENGINE DEPT. WITHOUT DIAMOND.

These insignias don’t have diamond, usually officers will have diamond at the first stripe. except trainee officers or cadets.

Insignia used by engine dept. hardboard type without diamond.

Insignia used by engine dept. hardboard type without diamond.

Standard Merchant Navy Insignia.( part of MERCHANT NAVY UNIFORMS)

This insignia came into force in 1940 under the British, and during second world war, this uniform is extensively used.This consists of a middle diamond with side stripes,being denser with rank. Here as given in the picture the level of picture depicts his seniority level.

standard Merchant Navy Insignia.

standard Merchant Navy Insignia.

OTHER POPULAR UNIFORMS (  popular in UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ranks)

ANCHOR SHOWN HERE IN FIRST ROW OF GOLDEN STRIPES DEPICTS THE DECK DEPARTMENT/NAVIGATING OFFICERS AND PROPELLER ON THE FIRST ROW DEPICTS THE ENGINEER OFFICER’S INSIGNIA.

These Kinds are usually used by USA Merchant Marine Officers.

These Kinds are usually used by USA Merchant Marine Officers.

BADGES IN UNITED STATES

This is the official Badge of United states Merchant Marines.

This is the official Badge of United states Merchant Marines.

MODERN DAY UNIFORMS AND ACCESSORIES.

Modern day Seafarers are not as what they used to be a 100 years back, seafaring today is not just about sailing, its about passion and pride. Merchant Navy Officers and Men are now getting trendy with time, hence Uniforms have now improved, and have attained a new level. With increasing fashion in the look and design of the uniforms. Most companies now don’t provide uniforms on board,hence it automatically comes up to the Officer what kind of uniforms he wants for himself within the code of conduct and trend.This poster created by me will help you to see what kind of Uniforms will suit the spirit and dynamic personality of a Merchant Navy Officer.

 

Modern uniforms and accessories.

Modern uniforms and accessories.

 

 

 

(c)copyright 2013  marine_observer

all the content unless stated and except few pictures used are work by marine_observer.

 


2 Comments

  1. It’s really a nice and useful piece of information.
    I’m glad that you just shared this helpful information
    with us. Please stay us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

  2. marine_observer says:

    Thank you!

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