The lore of a captain going down with the ship is well known but what is the legal consequence when that doesn’t happen? Does the ship’s master who scoots clear, leaving passengers and crew, face civil or criminal penalties? It is a ripe query considering recent reports where, in the midst of maritime catastrophe, we are told of captains beating a hasty retreat.

The so-called obligation of the captain to go down with the ship is likely anecdotal. It is no doubt hyperbole of a design encouraging the person with the greatest potential of helping lives to hang around and render aid.