You see it especially in cases where the captain in question is that of a big boat and even more so when it’s the captain of an entire ship, that being just how much authority they have at sea. That’s just it – captains enjoy a certain amount of authority on their vessel, but it’s not by default and rather by design.
There kind of has to be some sort of authoritative figure which in a sense is charged with the responsibility to oversee the adherence to the law in an environment which is naturally quite far-removed from the usual jurisdiction within which regular law enforcement figures can go about their regular duties of enforcing the law.
The captain isn’t entirely the law though, which means they can’t exercise the rights of a figure such as a judge or even a lawyer, but the captain basically has to take responsibility for what goes on under their watch while out at sea. This is why the captain is called in to be quizzed on any and all issues which may be of concern when customs officials approach a vessel or even jump on board to conduct their official customs duties.
Having said that however, this doesn’t mean any infringements of the law automatically have their liability passed on to the captain – if you break the law out as sea, such as being found in the possession of an illegal substance, the captain’s liability is only limited to them being made aware of the situation and bearing witness to any legal proceedings which you will be taken through.
Granted, the legal issues surrounding the maritime are indeed a lot more complex than those on “dry land,” so to say, however if for instance you are a resident of Miami in the United States, you’d still be best served by a Miami personal injury attorney in the event that you suffer some or other sort of personal injury on board a ship which has long since left your own home country’s borders. So as far as is within reason, the captain of a ship is basically an extension of the law as it applies in their country of origin, with some technicalities naturally coming into play when one takes into account considerations such as how this law translates over international waters and as the ship enters the territory of other countries, regions, etc.
On more of a lighter note – the law does also get represented through a ship’s captain for some of the more pleasant of life’s elements, such as how a captain under the right circumstances is legally authorised to marry people.
It takes a lot to get to a stage where anyone can legally call themselves the captain of a ship and it’s about a whole lot more than just being able to steer the ship and navigate the vast surface area of the ocean. Either way, the rather official-looking embellishments found on a captain’s attire are more than just embellishments, symbolising to a certain extend just how much legal authority they have.