The Merchant Shipping Act 1894 requires that the Master of every ship, except ships of less than eighty tons registered tonnage exclusively engaged in the coasting trade, enter into an agreement with every seaman whom he/she carries to sea as one of his/her crew.
Each agreement entered into with the crew must be in a form approved by the Minister for Transport. Approved Crew Agreements, available from the Mercantile Marine Office, Dublin, are as follows:
ENG 1 (Red – Duplicate Copy) - Agreement and List of the Crew – For a ship engaged in the unlimited trading area
ENG 1 (Black) - Agreement and List of the Crew – For a ship engaged in the unlimited trading area
ENG 6 (Red – Duplicate Copy) - Half-Yearly Agreement, List of the Crew of a Ship engaged in the near continental trading area only
Eng 6 (Black) – Half-Yearly Agreement, List of the Crew and Official Log-Book of a Ship engaged in the near continental trading area only
Eng 2 – Report of Changes, including Releases, in the Crew of a Ship Registered under the Irish Flag
Eng 3 – Report of Changes, including Releases, in the Crew of a Passenger Vessel Registered under the Irish Flag operating in the Near Continental Trading Area
While employers and masters are no longer required to notify a Superintendent of a Mercantile Marine Office when they intend to open a Crew Agreement, the ships Master should ensure that the agreement is read over and explained to each seafarer, or otherwise ascertain that each seafarer understands each agreement before he/she signs it and he/she in turn shall attest each signature.
 Section 113, Merchant Shipping Act, 1894
 Section 115 (2), Merchant Shipping Act, 1894
When the crew is first engaged the agreement shall be signed in duplicate, on both black and red copies, and the duplicate red copy shall be forwarded to the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office at the following address:
Mercantile Marine Office
Maritime Services Division
Irish Maritime Administration
Department of Transport
Each Agreement is executed to account for 72 men. If the crew number more than 72 men, a second agreement is added and the two agreements become one document.
Each agreement may be made for a voyage, or if the voyages of the ship average less than six months in duration, may be made to extend over two or more voyages. Such agreements so made to extend over two or more voyages are referred to as a running agreement.
Running agreements shall not extend beyond 6 months or the next following 30th day of June or 31st day of December or the first arrival of the ship at her port of destination after that date, or the discharge of cargo subsequent to that arrival. It must then, or within 21 days afterwards, be delivered to the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office.
Neglect to deposit the agreements within the prescribed time could subject the ship’s master or owner to penalties.
Each Agreement should contain, amongst other contractual provisions, the following information:
· Particulars of the ship
· Intended voyage
· Number of seamen for which accommodation is provided
· The capacity in which each seaman is to serve
· The account of wages each man is to receive
In order to enable the crew to know the contents of the Agreement, the Master, at the commencement of the voyage, is bound, to have a legible copy, (omitting the signatures) posted up in some part of the ship, which is accessible to the crew. Detachable Form U included in all published Crew Agreements.
Every erasure, interlineations or alteration in the Agreement (except additions in respect of substitutes or persons engaged after the first departure of the ship) is inoperative unless proved to have been made with the consent of all the persons interested, by the written attestation of a Superintendent of a Mercantile Marine Office, or Diplomatic or Consular Officer.
Fraudulently altering, or making any false entry in, or delivering a false copy of any Agreement, or being a party to such an act, may be punished by the infliction of a penalty.
Any change in the crew between the first engagement thereof and the final departure of the ship from a port in the State or at a port outside the State should be reported on Form ENG 2 and forwarded at once to the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office. Likewise, in the case of desertion or failure to join ship.
Any change in the crew between the first engagement thereof and the final departure of a passenger ship from a port in the State or at a port outside the State within the near continental trading area should be reported on Form ENG 3 and forwarded at once to the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office. Likewise, in the case of desertion or failure to join ship.
Upon discharge of crew, a statement of the conduct and ability of each member of crew is to be entered, and signed by the Master in the columns provided. If the Master wishes to decline to give such an opinion, ‘Declined to Report’ should be entered into the logbook.
It is at the discretion of a Master what character he/she shall give to a seafarer. However, if a character given is bad or ‘Decline to Report’ the seafarer may appeal to the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office in writing, to investigate the case by making enquiries as to the facts upon which the Master gave a bad report or ‘Declined to Report’. Such an enquiry may include the Master and the seafarer’s compliance with relevant national, EU or international law in relation to safety, security and environmental protections in force at the time.
If, after such inquiry, the Superintendent considers that the seafarer deserves a ‘Good’ or ‘Very Good’ character then he/she shall inform the Master accordingly, and suggest an alteration to the report of character originally made. In the event of the Master declining to make the suggested alteration, the Superintendent shall attach the result of the inquiry to the official Log book, providing the Master and the seafarer with a copy.
However, if after such an inquiry the Superintendent considers that the Masters report was appropriate, then the Superintendent shall inform the seafarer and Master accordingly.
 Section 115 (6), Merchant Shipping Act 1894
 Section 114, Merchant Shipping Act 1894
 Section 129, Merchant Shipping Act 1894
While directions as to keeping official log-books are outlined on the inside cover of all log-books published, the following items are those records to be reported on in addition to that of the vessels details and details of voyage and other related matters:
- List of crew
- Inspection of Crew’s Accommodation
- Inspection of Food and Water Supplies
- Testing of Ship’s Steering gear
- Draught and Freeboard Entries
An entry should be made as soon as possible after the event to which it relates. If it is not made on the same day, then both the date of occurrence and the date of entry must be logged. All entries must be made 24 hours before the ship’s arrival in the port where the crew are to be discharged, with the exception of the following:
- Draught entries must be made before the ship sails from each port.
- Breach of discipline entries must be made either before the ship arrives in the pot or before the ship puts to sea whichever is appropriate.
- Birth and death entries must be made before arrival at the next port.
All entries should be made in ink, with no spaces between entries. Erasures and obliterations should never be made. Necessary alterations should be initialled and cleanly cancelled, so that the alteration is still legible. Cancellation of a previous entry is effected by a further entry stating that the entry concerned is deleted.
Other entries required under the Merchant Shipping Acts include:
- Every conviction and punishment inflicted by a legal tribunal on a member of the crew
- Every offence committed on board by a member of the crew
- Every case of illness or injury and the nature of the treatment
- Every collision with another ship and the circumstances
- List of documents handed over on change of command
- The receipt of all distress messages and the reason for not proceeding to assist where applicable
- Names of safety officer and representatives
As in the case of Crew Agreements, Official Log-books shall not extend beyond 6 months or the next following 30th day of June or 31st day of December or the first arrival of the ship at her port of destination after that date, or the discharge of cargo subsequent to that arrival. It must then, or within 21 days afterwards, be delivered to the Superintendent of the Mercantile Marine Office.