A revolution in shipbuilding took place during the second
half of last century; wood gave way to iron, and steam replaced
wind and sails. For the first time in history naval architects
were able to construct great vessels able to forge their way
across the trackless ocean in face of raging storms. Here was an opportunity to establish better quarters for the personnel;
an opportunity, alas, missed. It is true that, stimulated by
such men as ",filbert Blane, the responsible authorities of H. M.
Royal Navy took advantage of the transitional period and made
thorough and radical changes in Men-of-War. The decrease in disease has been a striking one, although ships of the Navy carry
large complements necessary for manoeuvring and fighting, and
although they house their men in cramped quarters.
In the ì.ercantile Marine, however, the lessons of hygiene
have taken years to make even a slight impression on shipowners.
The modern ships of certain foreign countries afford really decent
living quarters for occupation by their crews. Of relatively few
British merchantmen, however, can this be said - a shameful admission for the world's leading maritime nation.
The hygiene of crews' quarters aroused the interest of the
author while he was serving as a Surgeon in the employ of the
Cunard Steamship Company. Later, when he was attached to the
London Port Sanitary Authority he investigated the subject as it
applied to ships of varying tonnages and different nationalities.
On appointment to the Hull and Goole Fort Sanitary Authority he
continued the investigation more intensively.
Unfortunately there is no accurate comprehensive statistical
information available regarding the type of accommodation found
in British and Foreign shipping. To overcome this difficulty a scheme for surveying ships visiting the Ports of Hull and Goole
was instituted. It is upon the results obtained from this survey
that the present thesis is based. It is hoped that the conclusions arrived at will clearly indicate a definite need, not only
for improvement in the conditions in which men of the Merchant
Service live, but also for a thorough revision of the administration and powers affecting the sanitation of vessels of the
British Mercantile Marine.