When seafarers joined a ship they signed the articles. The captain signed them as well and they formed a contract that set out conditions of employment including how much crew would be paid, what food they would be given, and what hours they would be expected to work. The articles would also say that if a ship was in danger, the normal expectations of work would be set aside and the captainĀ could call on his crew for whatever was needed to save the ship. The articles could form the basis for shipboard discipline, giving the captain authority to punish seafarers who broke them.

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