Hospital ships

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
paul.mercer
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Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2010 10:25 pm

Hospital ships

Post by paul.mercer » Mon May 28, 2012 7:46 pm

Gentlemen,
What was the official position of hospital ships? I know they were supposed to be regarded as non belligerent and therfore not attacked, but several were, paticularly in WW1. In theory, could a hospital ship enter any port (perhaps in an emergancy) even if that country was at war with the owners of that ship and if so what would happen to the patients, or did they all come under the Red Cross protection?

lwd
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Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Hospital ships

Post by lwd » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:12 pm

Here are some links.
This one points to the 1949 rules but mentions what was added at that time:
http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/COM/370-580040?OpenDocument
And of course there's wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hospital_ship
useful mostly because it gives some references
This one has some more info:
http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/1904a.htm
As does this one (both 1907 dates)
http://www1.umn.edu/humanrts/instree/1907i.htm
Article 1. Military hospital ships, that is to say, ships constructed or assigned by States specially and solely with a view to assisting the wounded, sick and shipwrecked, the names of which have been communicated to the belligerent Powers at the commencement or during the course of hostilities, and in any case before they are employed, shall be respected, and cannot be captured while hostilities last.

These ships, moreover, are not on the same footing as war-ships as regards their stay in a neutral port.

Art. 2. Hospital ships, equipped wholly or in part at the expense of private individuals or officially recognized relief societies, shall likewise be respected and exempt from capture, if the belligerent Power to whom they belong has given them an official commission and has notified their names to the hostile Power at the commencement of or during hostilities, and in any case before they are employed.

These ships must be provided with a certificate from the competent authorities declaring that the vessels have been under their control while fitting out and on final departure.

Art. 3. Hospital ships, equipped wholly or in part at the expense of private individuals or officially recognized societies of neutral countries shall be respected and exempt from capture, on condition that they are placed under the control of one of the belligerents, with the previous consent of their own Government and with the authorization of the belligerent himself, and that the latter has notified their names to his adversary at the commencement of or during hostilities, and in any case, before they are employed.

Art. 4. The ships mentioned in Articles 1, 2, and 3 shall afford relief and assistance to the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked of the belligerents without distinction of nationality.

...
This is usually a good sight to look for such info as well:
http://avalon.law.yale.edu/subject_menus/lawwar.asp

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