Employment in the Steamship Business - The Crews of the Ships and Home Office
Many genealogist are searching for their ancestors who served as crew members on board a ship of one of the steamship lines. This extract deals with the practical business aspects of the loading and operations of ships as a commercial enterprise. You will be able to determine where your ancestor worked as well as what his (or her) job entailed.
Analysis of a Typical Organization of a Large Passenger and Freight Steamship Company
The board of directors.-These gentlemen may represent not only shipping but also financial and business interests.. They are interested primarily in shaping general policies.
The president is the active head of the organization. He is, or should be, an old shipping man, not only because of the peculiar specific knowledge entailed in the shipping business, but because he cannot hope to handle the many technical subordinates without being a master in every branch of the business.
The vioe president.-A large company may have several vice presidents. The heads of the important departments may have the rank of vice presidents of the company or they may not. The heads of the important departments of the shipping business usually are occupied chief1X with the shaping of policies, and are therefore much of the time in conference, leaving the actual details to their assistants.
Going through the entire list it is found at almost every point that each important department or section head has an assistant. The object of this is twofold; first, it enables the head of the department to be free of details in order to give his attention to general policies; and second, it provides under him and in training some one who is fitted to take his position at a moment's notice.
Private Secretary to an executive.-The fact is often overlooked by ambitious young men who do not care to start at the bottom in such positions as that of a tallyman that one of the most promising avenues of entry and advancement in the shipping or any other business is employment as a private secretary to an executive.
A young man who demonstrates his ability as the private secretary of one of the top men in a company is almost sure to arrive sooner or later at a post of importance. He may feel at first that he -is only a stenographer, but if. he dispels from his mind this self-imposed limitation his opportunities are enormous. In the first place, he has an opportunity to learn the executive end of the business with all its complications and ramifications.
No other man doing detail work in the office anywhere along the line has such an opportunity to learn what factors shape the policies of the business. He will also come into personal contact with every important officer of the company, the board of directors, and also the many distinguished visitors who call at his chief's office.
Such posts as private secretary to the man high up are not numerous and require particular qualifications, such as discretion, personality, and general alertness of mind in grasping both the detail and the larger aspects of problems as they arise.
After the vice president, there are several administrative officers, such as the secretary, the treasurer, and the comptroller. The secretary's duties are similar to those of a secretary in any large commercial organization.
The treasurer and the assistant treasurer with him have entire control of the financial affairs of the company within the limitations imposed by the directors. He signs stock certificates and is responsible for the banking and foreign exchange transactions. These are, very important in a steamship company having relations with many foreign countries.
The assistant treasurer (in the company taken as the basis of this analysis) has his office iIi the cabin-passenger department. He is in direct control of the travelers' checks, money order, and draft department, and has full charge of all foreign exchange matters, including money changing. Travelers' checks are not handled through the banks. He has a cashier and clerks as assistants.
Money order, travelers' checks, and draft department.-This department is grouped under the steerage department because of the large number of prepaid passages that are handled in it. Prepaid tickets are a large feature. Often the agents for steerage departments are money lenders or are small bankers throughout the country where the immigrants deposit their earnings.
The drafts of a large money order department amount to many millions. The agencies sell the tickets and money orders, and the agents who have the immigrant's money on deposit also, as a rule, sell him the tickets from this side to bring the other members of the family to the United States.
There is a close relation between the immigrant and the agent with whom he books his passage back to the old country or arranges to bring over the family.
Cashiers, assistant cashiers, and cashbook keepers are located in various parts of the organization-passenger, freight, etc. In both passenger departments there are cashiers or a cashier's office. The cashier is under the treasurer and turns the money over to him.
The money-order department also works through the treasurer, but 0ccupies space in the passenger-department office and is partly under the passenger traffic manager. There are also cashiers' clerks and stenographers. The avenue of entry into the treasurer's department is as a cashier's clerk, assistant cashier, or cashbook keeper.
The comptroller is in charge of disbursements and financial statements. The assistant comptroller is responsible for the consolidation and the setting up of accounts, the making of monthly and annual balance sheets. In general, the accounting in a steamship company is along the following lines.
The most important accounts are the voyage accounts. The other category is general expense. It is important to credit and debit each voyage with every financial transaction which has to do with the voyage, in order to !mow if the voyage was profitable.
To this end there is a rather elaborate classification under which expenses are debited and credited. In a case in point the classification numbers running to 100 are voyage-account numbers and those running above 100 are general-expense account numbers. There are eighty-odd classifications for voyage-account disbursements.
This accounting is absolutely essential and requires a considerable staff. The staff, under the assistant comptroller, is divided into three groups: The accounting department, the auditing department, and the voucher department.
Chief of the accounting department.-This person is a head bookkeeper for the ledgers. The cashbooks and many other books that are kept by various clerks throughout the organization come to his department for posting. He has an assistant chief accountant and a bookkeeper or two, who keep the items posted in the ledgers and take oft' monthly trial balances, statements, etc., as requested.
Auditor.-The auditor is in charge of booking and checking all funds received. He is also in charge of the passenger manifests. Because it is necessary to check the passage money and the passenger tickets, it is more convenient for the passenger manifest to be filed in his office. The auditor has several clerks. He signs all vouchers before payment, filing the bills in his office. He also checks and files all foreign accounts. His office ranks next in importance to that of the assistant comptroller.
The voucher department.-This office has in charge the final payment of all the outgoing funds of the company and is in charge of a chief voucher clerk.
Chief voucher clerk.-This officer is one of importance. He is responsible for the final preparation of all vouchers sent to creditors. The voucher is familiar. In the steamship business there are rather more classification numbers than usual, also many overseas disbursements involving foreign exchange. Records are kept under classified accounts given to and posted by the bookkeeper monthly.
The disbursement-book clerk.-He is next in rank under the voucher clerk; and is entrusted with the keeping of the 'disbursement books and the proper classifications under the various headings of voyage accounts and general expenses.
The assistant voucher clerk is entrusted with making up the vouchers ready for checking by the voucher clerk and filing by the comptroller or assistant comptroller.
The petty cash account clerk has direct dealings with the clerks of the treasurer's department. Here ends the list of senior clerks.
The junior clerk for the prevention of duplication is the ranking junior clerk. He is entrusted with card-index records of every bill presented to the company by creditors, and checks the same off on the card index to insure that the same bill is not paid twice.
There are several junior clerks for filing. The elder and younger bill-filing clerks are the juniors in the office, excepting the stenographic and general office assistants. The duties of these juniors are to arrange, file, coordinate, and otherwise make up ready for their superiors all the various bills against the company which come to the department for payment.
The point of entry in the comptroller's department and the treasurer's department of a large steamship company would be through the position of bill filing clerk. A youngster would be started filing bills and would be advanced from desk to desk to the higher positions in the comptroller's department. Through filing the bills the clerks become familiar with the classifications of the accounting system and with the general business of the company.
It might be mentioned that no bill for payment reaches the voucher stage until it has received the O. K. of the head of the department in-which the disbursement was authorized. This requires the services of disbursement clerks, who put the bills through the particular routine necessary and have them returned to the comptroller's office.
The comptroller's office of a large steamship company will have from 15 to 30 employees. There is a decided preference for high school graduates with a sound, general commercial training and a knowledge of the principles of bookkeeping. These are evidently not easy to find.
The Government plan to give these candidates a training in the paperwork and principles of foreign commerce and shipping has received decided approval from shipping men as a means of shortening the probationary period of minor clerks and increasing their efficiency.
The active operations of the ship line are carried on by a series of departments under their respective managers, such as freight traffic, passenger traffic, operating department, and a small department under the insurance manager. The most important departments are operation and traffic. These will be taken up in detail, beginning with the passenger traffic department.
The Passenger Traffic Department
The heads of this department are the passenger traffic manager and the assistant passenger traffic manager. As a rule, these men divide the work between them, one taking the cabin passenger service (first and second class) and the other taking the steerage and third-class passenger service. The nature of these two services is such that it is necessary to have the work divided in order to have the head of each service a specialist in the particular field.
The cabin department.-In the cabin department there, are three subdivisions of primary importance-the main office, the branch office, and the agents. The head of the department is directly responsible for the office force of the main office, for the heads of the branch offices, and is responsible for the appointment of agents.
The agents only are responsible to the passenger department head, their employees being hired in the agent's own locality. Many large and important steamship offices through the country are agencies and not branch offices of the line. For this reason there are many more persons employed in the steamship business than appear in a survey of the offices of the steamship companies themselves.
Booking clerks.-Under the passenger traffic manager in the cabin department the most important employee is the booking clerk. Booking clerks often receive from $2,500 to $3,500 salaries. They arrive at this position after having been long in the employ of the line.
Certain senior booking clerks may be detailed as heads of particular services. For instance, if the steamship company operates a line of ships to Cuba and another line to Naples, there will be a chief booking clerk for the Cuban and Caribbean service and another booking clerk for the Mediterranean service.
Obviously, the chief booking clerk of each service and the men under him must be acquainted with the languages of the territory to which they are assigned. Such head booking clerks, are very responsible persons.
Particularly in the cabin department, booking clerks must be men of wide reading and knowledge and of general refinement, because they come in contact with a high-class public and must be able to answer all sorts of questions.
It is customary from time to time to send booking clerks on trips over their particular ocean routes in order that they may be well informed concerning all the conditions pertaining to the service that the traveler may encounter.
Junior booking c1erks.-Under the heads of the various services of the booking department there are understudies who are engaged because of some special fitness or, particularly, because of their knowledge of languages. These junior clerks may have started as office boys, but often they are engaged because of knowledge of the languages and conditions of specific lines of the service.
In one important office there are represented among the various senior and junior booking clerks persons familiar with the following languages: Two who speak the Scandinavian languages; three, Italian; one, German; one speaking various Austro-Hungarian languages; and two speaking Yiddish (in the steerage department).
This does not complete the list of languages that it is desirable to have represented. Booking clerks in a steamship line correspond somewhat to salesmen in an ordinary mercantile establishment, and their personality is an important factor in their progress.
By reason of their contact with patrons of the line they often learn particular points to be emphasized by the publicity department and desirable improvements to be made in the passenger service, and in this manner increase their value to the company.
It is an old saying in shipping circles that "freight pays the bills," but it is none the less true that satisfactory passenger service is often the best kind of advertising for the line. Good booking clerks are essential to satisfactory passenger service.
Landing clerks.-In addition to booking clerks there are landing clerks. Landing clerks must be transportation experts and authorities on the immigration laws. They board ships at quarantine, represent the company with the immigration authorities, and are responsible for the endorsement of tickets. They must know the railroad conditions and. be able to give advice as to the best connections to the interior. They must also know the travel conditions in the United States or in the country with which they are working.
It is very desirable that they know foreign languages. 'The landing clerks may be graduated from junior booking or even senior booking clerks. This is a healthful and varied outside job entailing some hardship in bad weather.
Railroad booking clerks.-Under the landing clerk is a railroad booking clerk whose specialty is to arrange for further travel of the passengers' of the line who may desire to proceed to the interior. He has several juniors under him.
Traveling passenger agents.-The functions of such an agent are similar to those of the commercial traveler in any large firm. He ranks with the senior booking clerk of the service. However, he must be well versed in all the services and be able to instruct and oversee as well as engage the agents of the lines.
Tourist department.-Under the passenger traffic manager there has arisen in recent years, before the war, a tourist department. This department has a senior clerk and several junior clerks. These men must be particularly well versed not only in the conditions of travel in the countries to which the company is sending tourist cruises but must also be well acquainted with the history, geography, and places of interest of the various points at which the ship touches on its cruise. The tourist department chief clerk is very often recruited from the tourist agencies, of ·which there are a number in the country.
Publicity department.-Under the passenger traffic manager is the publicity department, as most of the publicity of the company is concerned with the passenger and not with the freight business.
The chief of this department should be a practical advertising man who has had close contact with the shipping business. The department consists of the head clerk or· chief of the division and one or two junior clerks.
Afloat.-Under the passenger traffic manager· afloat are the purser, the assistant purser, and often some clerks with them. They are in charge of the collection of the tickets; also, the ship's manifest, and have many other incidental business and clerical duties. The line for promotion from ship to shore is open, and booking clerks of both the freight and passenger departments are sometimes interchanged between the shore office and the ship.
Under the passenger department head come also the surgeon and the assistant surgeon, required by law on passenger ships. These are medical men who do not grow up or advance in the shipping business as such. Young internes often enjoy a year or two at sea as a "ship's doctor" for the experience.
Since we, as a nation, must give more attention to the study of tropical diseases and sanitation for the furtherance of our overseas commerce, a year or so as ship's surgeon in tropical service can be made the means of a good education in tropical hygiene. (With vessels stopping 'a few hours in each port, this advantage is limited.).
The steerage department.-The other main division of the passenger department is that concerned with steerage and third class passengers under the assistant passenger traffic manager. This office has under it the steerage department not only of the main office but also of the branch offices and the agents. The agents are extremely important, as much of the steerage passenger business is solicited through agents throughout the world.
The same general organization is set up in the steerage department is in the cabin department. One agent may handle both departments, but the great difference between cabin and steerage business usually results in separate agents for each kind of traffic.
Booking clerks.-These positions, in the third-cabin and steerage service in particular, require knowledge of the various languages and dialects of the European countries from which the streams of steerage passengers come. The work is divided according to service, and the grouping of the chief clerks' and the assistant clerks and junior clerks is in accordance with the services and the languages that these persons know.
Landing clerks· and railroad clerks are either the same persons as· those who serve for cabin-passenger departments or are specialists whose work is similar but has to do primarily with immigration and emigration.
The general manager of operations is the head of all those activities afloat and ashore that have to do with the loading, unloading, provisioning, and running of the ships. This is a department of enormous detail and responsibility.
As the head of this department has to do with general policies, his time is largely occupied in conference; therefore, the assistant manager has the active charge of routine and detail. Under the operating department manager come the following departments: Chartering department, foreign offices and agencies operation questions in branch houses and out ports, marine superintendent, superintendent engineer, victualing superintendent, general wharf superintendent, and chief of construction.
Engineer department.-This department is under the direct supervision of the superintendent engineer and the assistant superintendent engineer, who report to the operating department manager. The shore office force consists of two or three clerks, who handle general office routine, papers, filing, etc.
The superintendent engineer and his assistant are in charge of the engine department of the ships, the upkeep and maintenance of the ship's engines, and also repairs to the hull of the ship if she is damaged and must be put in dry dock.
Ships must be dry-docked at frequent intervals to scrape and paint the bottoms. The superintendent engineer, therefore, must not only be a machine engineer, but also have considerable knowledge of naval construction. The chief force under the superintendent engineer is afloat. He is entirely responsible for the engineering personnel of all the ships of the line.
Moat we have the chief engineer of the ship, the first assistant engineer, the second assistant engineer, and the third assistant engineer. In addition there are oilers, water tenders, and others;' also stokers, coal passers, and trimmers. This force afloat is entirely and directly responsible to the superintendent engineer or his assistant.
The line of promotion is from the sea force, not from the shore end of the engineer department. A young man starts in as a third assistant engineer, after having perhaps served an apprenticeship as an oiler or water tender and gone to a school and passed an examination.
He is promoted slowly through the various ranks to be chief engineer of a small ship, then of a large ship, and finally, if his abilities and' tastes are in that direction, he may become an assistant superintendent engineer on shore and eventually superintendent engineer, which is the top of his profession in the shipping business.
The superintendent engineer passes on all engine-room supplies, oil, and coal. He passes on the contracts for supplies for the engineering department in every detail. The chief engineer of the ship puts in his request or indent for supplies ashore. This is checked over in the office of the superintendent engineer. It may be the particular duty of a high-grade clerk, who is qualified in this work, to check this indent in detail and bring to the notice of the chief any irregularities.
The superintendent engineer keeps an accurate record of the performance of each ship on each voyage, and with his knowledge and experience endeavors to fix the responsibility for deviation upon the ship's engineer, the coal, the oil, or some other factor. The request for supplies, however, and the reports from the superintendent engineer go to, the general manager of operations for final approval.
It will be seen that the force ashore, though small, must contain several very good, clerks. These clerks will gain a knowledge of the profession of marine engineers as a part of the shipping business.
Often the head clerk has served a certain time at sea as one of the engineers.
The marine superintendent and the assistant marine superintendent are in charge of the deck department of the ship. The marine superintendent sees to the docking and undocking of the ships, gives instructions to the officers of navigation, appoints and promotes all the deck officers, and engages captains, deck officers, and crews. The deck department is understood to mean the ship's officers and crew.
Although they are not called deck officers, the marine department includes the pursers, who also represent the passenger department, the stewards, who are closely allied with victualing departments, .and the engineers, who are under the superintendent engineer.
Ashore the marine superintendent has a staff or two or three responsible clerks and stenographers. They have to keep the service records of all the deck officers, crew, and other ship's personnel, to carry on a certain amount of filing and other routine office work, and they have charge of the pay rolls of the deck department.
All of this requires intimate knowledge of the sea life and considerable ability in clerical work. As the routine of each shipping office is different, much of this is to be learned on the job.
The deck department afloat consists of the commander of the ship, the chief officer, the first and second officers and junior officers, cadets, wireless operators, and the crew. A man in this department starts out as a cadet on a ship, he may even have had experience before the mast.
After passing his officer's examination (beginning as second officer or third officer), he advances through the various grades. He may come to be commander of a small and then a larger ship, and finally, if he has the interest and taste for it, become an assistant marine superintendent, or a marine superintendent ashore.
It is obvious that it is almost impossible for one of the clerical force ashore in the marine superintendent's department to become a marine superintendent, because only men who have been a great many years a.t sea are qualified for this position.
A person who starts as a junior clerk in the marine superintendent's office ashore is, nevertheless, in a blind alley only if he is a blind-alley man. Ability is too rare to be wasted in a blind-alley job and a man of promise will be transferred elsewhere and will take valuable knowledge with him, from his service in this department.
The victualing superintendent and the assistant victualing superintendent are in charge of all the food supplies aboard ship. Under them, ashore, they have the purchasing department with several specialists in various lines of products. The specialists in the purchasing department of a large line are eight or ten clerks, some of whom are old stewards, while others have worked up from office positions and others have been buyers for hotels.
Under these there are stenographers and clerks, who handle the routine correspondence work. The victualing of a ship, especially a great passenger ship, is far more difficult than purchasing for a large metropolitan hotel. A victualing superintendent must know all that is known by the hotel buyer and much more.
Afloat we have aboard ship the chief steward, the assistant chief steward, storekeepers, the various stewards who serve the passengers and officers, the cooks, and their staff. The chief steward on a passenger liner is a combination of "chef de reception," hotel clerk, headwaiter, and general manager.
On a great passenger ship, such as the General Washington, there are a chief steward and many assistants in each class (cabin). Stewards and assistant chief stewards may be transferred into the victualing department ashore. A few voyages as steward or as assistant chief steward constitute essential training for a future buyer in the victualing department of a passenger line. Such a position as buyer is a very good one and one of responsibility, involving the handling of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The wharf department-Under the operating department are the wharves, which are in charge of the general wharf superintendent.
Under the general superintendent of the wharves are (1) pier superintendents, one for each pier, with a clerical assistant, (2) a stevedore on each pier who hires the longshoremen, (3) the receiving clerk on each pier, (4) the detective service, directly under the general wharf superintendent.
There is the timekeeper and the assistant timekeeper on each pier. Under the direct supervision of the wharf superintendent there is the chief delivery clerk with his staff. Each group, beginning with the lowest rung of the ladder, will be followed through in turn.
The stevedore.-The stevedore's gang for unloading each hatch is divided into three groups, the first working in the hold, the second on the deck, and the third on the pier. These three groups or gangs are under one stevedore foreman, or sometimes there is one foreman for 'the forward hatches and another foreman for the after hatches.
Longshoreman work is primarily manual labor, although much skill is developed, particularly by those who handle the deck winches running the fan ropes and also the "hooker on." Stowing in the hold requires experience and skill. (See Barnes, “The Longshoreman.")
The chief or boss stevedore of a pier is an important person. He usually rises from the ranks of the longshoremen. He learns by experience how a ship can be loaded and in time he learn the various ships of the line and their peculiarities. Ships have their own individuality and do not carry their loads alike. He is assisted by the ship's officers, who also acquire an intimate knowledge of how a cargo can be stowed on their own particular ship.
The ship must be loaded to capacity, so as to avoid expensive waste of carrying space, and yet it must not be loaded below the safe load line, nor in such manner as to strain hull or expose cargo to damage. Furthermore, certain kinds of cargo are prohibited by law and certain other kinds may only be carried in a manner specified by law.
A thoroughly competent chief stevedore is of such importance that he is seldom promoted to be· pier superintendent, it being more advantageous to keep him on the job and increase his pay. The chief stevedore may save some capital and become a contracting stevedore, but this has become more difficult, as an increased number of steamship lines do their own stevedoring instead of letting it out.
Longshoremen are usually union men. They work by the hour. Formerly a gang could load 250 tons a day, but now the efficiency of the longshoremen has decreased until a gang will load about half this amount.
The receiving department (on each pier).-:-Beginning at the bottom are tallymen, sometimes called" checkers," who constitute the foundation of the clerical force on the pier. A large pier will employ from 10 to 30 tallymen in each department for incoming and for outgoing freight. Tallymen are usually union men. They are paid by the hour on an eight-hour-day basis, but as many as possible are kept in steady employment on the piers in the interest of efficiency.
Tallymen may work up in the confidence of the company and be advanced to more responsible and permanent positions, but they are always paid on the time basis until they become assistant chiefs or chiefs of a department. Tallymen should have a good common; school education and, if possible, a high-school education.
They are usually taken on when about 18 years old. But there is no reason why a college graduate should not begin as a tallyman in the shipping business. A tallyman must have a good handwriting and have a head for figures, as much of the work is measuring dimensions of cargo.
The tallyman has one of the best openings for a man to rise in the shipping business. The vice president of a great company, who himself at 16 started as an apprentice in a shipping office, stated that there is no place in the shipping business where a man can learn as much about it in the same length of time as in the position of tallyman.
Receiving tallymen check the packages landed from lighters or trucks for loading into the ship. The packages as they are landed are counted and measured, the tallymen making entries on a tally sheet, and also reporting any damage to the freight.
Extension clerks.-The tally sheet from the tallyman goes to the extension clerk in the receiving office on the pier. The position of extension clerk is a promotion from that of tallyman. He still is a union man and to all intents and purposes a tallyman, but works full time.
Although receiving the same w:age, he is not laid off on slack days at the pier. The extension clerk, by means of conversion or cubical measurement tables, converts the weights and measurements on the tally sheets to weight tons or 40 cubic feet and consolidates the report for the calculation of freight in the preparation of the dock sheets, from which is made the ship's manifest in the main office.
Lighterage clerks.-Another tallyman promoted to full. time and permanent pay in the receiving office is the lighterage clerk. He receives the lighterage manifest and from it makes up the data that must go into the ship's manifest. He makes a tally or dock sheet for this purpose.
Cargo clerks.-The position of a cargo clerk is an advancement over the extension and lighterage clerks. He is responsible for making up the dock sheet from the stubs of the dock receipts that are given to the truckmen who deliver the goods and also from the tally sheets hande4 to him by the extension clerk and the lighterage clerk.
When the cargo book is prepared it goes to the main office for the making up of the ship's manifest. This work must be absolutely accurate and also done with dispatch, because the ship, when loading, receives its cargo rapidly and must not be delayed because of the lack of the data that these clerks get together to make the manifest.
The manifest must be sworn to and delivered at the customhouse as a true account of amount, kind, and destination of articles of cargo before the ship can be cleared. (" Dock sheets" of receiving clerks' returns should not be confused with" cargo books,” which are made for use of ship's officer only.)
The assistant receiving clerk occupies a permanent position. Usually he is not a union man and is on a straight salary basis. He is responsible for the signing of the dock receipts when goods are delivered at the pier~ The dock receipt is a very important ad interim document.
The receiving clerk must come up through the ranks in order to receive that training in routine detail, which will enable him easily to detect mistakes and serious errors when they come over his desk. Through experience as tallyman and clerk he acquires a knowledge of packages and freight as to size, weight, and many other details that enables him to recognize a mistake at a glance.
The chief receiving clerk of a pier is in charge of the entire receiving office and the tallymen force employed in the receiving work on the pier. He is in line of promotion to take the position of pier superintendent, but, of course, has competition with other members of the wharf staff who are heads of other departments.
Baggage department.-This department comes under the general wharf superintendent. It consists of a baggage master, assistant baggage master, and baggage clerks, according to the amount of passenger travel. All rules or instructions governing the handling of baggage are issued by the passenger department.
The baggage master is responsible for this department. It is his place to see that the rules issued by the passenger department are carried out. On outward sailings, it is the duty of his staff to record all baggage and see that it is properly laden aboard steamer as the passenger desires-in the stateroom, in a baggage room where the passenger may have access to it on the voyage, or in the hold where it can not be gotten at until the steamer arrives at destination.
On inbound steamers it is the duty of the baggage department to see that all passengers' baggage discharged from the steamer is properly placed on piers for customs examination, all labor being furnished by the stevedore department.
The baggage department staff must be careful and courteous at all times, the passengers' comfort depending largely on its efficiency.
There is always something to do in this department to help the traveler. It is a very important matter, especially in handling third class and steerage passengers' baggage, to have a speaking knowledge of the Italian, Scandinavian, German, and Russian languages and to be familiar with the value of foreign money.
The delivery department on the pier has charge of incoming freight. For the group of piers there is a chief delivery clerk, who has under him a delivery clerk on each pier. Beginning with the bottom are tallymen, who belong to the same union as those of the receiving department. The force of tallymen is the same and may be employed by either department.
The tallymen check over the goods, which come from the ship onto the pier and make out their checking slip in such a manner that it is possible at the office to see that all the cargo -on the manifest has been received. Errors of excess or deficiency are detected in this way and brought to the attention of the delivery clerk, who is responsible for the notation of any pilfering or damaged packages.
Aside from the tallymen, the office force of the inbound freight department consists of a delivery olerk, one or two assistant delivery clerks, and a check clerk, who handle the several operations of inbound freight routine.
While still at sea the cargo book is made up by the purser from the ship's manifest, entering one or two consignees to a page. When the goods are landed from the steamer and made ready for delivery, they are checked by the tallymen by marks, numbered on tally slips, and stamped by the customs inspector to show that the necessary permit has been lodged.
The tally slips are sent to the delivery office and, if everything is in order, freight paid, etc., receipts are taken and delivery effected. The cargo book goes to the receiving office on the pier; the bills of lading go to the customhouse and are entered there; and a permit to take the goods' from the pier is issued.
When the goods are taken from the pier an entry to that effect must be made in the cargo book. When 10 percent of the goods go to the appraisers' stores for the valuation they must be accounted for and the necessary entry made and papers issued.
The clearance clerk is entrusted with the issuing of the proper notices and checking the delivery of shipments to the consignee. In addition, the various members of the force must make out lien notices on the freight, and after five days prepare removal notices directing removal of the goods within 48 hours. If they are not removed they go to storage houses or warehouses in the neighborhood, for which the proper papers and receipts must be made out.
There are also general-order store notices, damaged-cargo special reports, claim reports, and many other forms that must be rapidly and carefully handled by this force and checked by the chief clerk in charge. The inbound or delivery department on the pier is complicated, because of the customs formalities.
Damage or loss are usually detected at the time of landing and delivering the cargo to the consignee rather than when the cargo is loaded. This puts most of the work for claims and adjustments on the receiving staff.
The detective force.-Under the wharf superintendent on every pier there is a detective force. The detectives, like those in department stores, are primarily interested in preventing pilfering, but also become experts in the detection of any package that has been tampered with and in other causes of damage to cargo.
The judgment of an experienced pier detective is valuable in the adjustment of all kinds of insurance claims as well as in the protection of the cargo.
The timekeeper.-Each pier has a timekeeper and an assistant timekeeper. Sometimes a tallyman is assigned as a third member of this force. On some piers, the timekeeper force is a large one, on others two or three men on each pier are considered sufficient. The qualification for this position is primarily a memory for cases and names.
The timekeeper checks the time that the men enter and leave the pier, some lines use a time clock, but on some large piers, full reliance is placed on the timekeeper's quick eye and memory. It requires a clear head to be a timekeeper, as he has to charge labor time against 48 different items in the cost accounting of the company here cited. (The timekeeper also makes reports on accidents.)
The duties of timekeeper involve considerable exposure to the elements. His is almost entirely an open-air job, and as such has advantages for those who do not like to work inside.
The timekeeper makes up the pay envelopes and is responsible for the pay of the pier force. .A. tallyman is often assigned to fulltime duty as an assistant timekeeper, and is in line for promotion to timekeeper.
The foregoing remarks have dealt with the operation of a large line carrying both passengers and freight, but present indications seem to show that the great bulk of our shipping for some years, at any rate-is to consist chiefly of ships designed to carry freight.
Some of these will, of course, be ships of a special type, as, for example, oil-tank ships, fruit ships, and the like, but the great increase in our merchant marine will probably consist largely of vessels primarily intended to carry general cargo. Such vessels may be operated in regular traffic on short runs or as "tramps," taking cargo wherever profits promise to be forthcoming.
These smaller companies may often offer good opportunities to capable, broad-gauge young men for the very reason that they are smaller. The destinies of such companies are likely to be in the hands of a few men of broad experience who have actually built up the company from the beginning and will take a personal interest in any youngster whose work suits them.
This direct personal notice is apt to be much more difficult to obtain in larger and more complex organizations. Furthermore, these small companies often oiler opportunities for employees to make small investments in the company, thus naturally increasing the interest of each in the progress of the other.
R. S. MacElwee, Ph.D., "Employments in the Steamship Business: Analysis of a Typical Organization of a Large Passenger and Freight Steamship Company." In Training For The Steamship Business, Department of Commerece, Bureau of Foreign and Domestic Commerce, Miscellaneous Series No. 98, Washington: Government Printing Office, 1920, Pages 12-30.