Decree on Nationalization of the Merchant Marine

Written: February 8, 1918
First Published: Sobranie Uzakonenii i Rasporiazhenii Rabochego i Krestianskogo Pravitelstva, 1918, No. 19, pp. 284-85.
Source: James Bunyan and H.H. Fisher, The Bolshevik revolution, 1917-1918: Documents and materials, Stanford University Press; London: H. Milford, Oxford University Press, 1934, pp. 611-612.
Translated: Emanuel Aronsberg
Transcription/Markup: Zdravko Saveski
Online Version: 2017

1. .... All navigation companies, with all their movable and immovable property, assets, and liabilities, all river and ocean freight and passenger boats owned by stock companies, partnerships, commercial houses, and large private firms are declared to be the . . . . property of the Soviet Republic.

2. The following are not taken over by the Soviet Republic: (a) Boats used .... as a means of making a living (minimum standard); boats owned by small companies, organized as labor partnerships. (b) Whaling and fishing boats; pilot-association vessels; boats belonging to cities and villages; boats not used for freight and passenger service, except those belonging to stock companies.

3. In co-operation with seamen's unions and branches of the All-Russian Soviet of Sailors and in agreement with the Soviet economic organizations (regional councils of national economy, economic committees, etc.), the local Soviets should take immediate steps to safeguard vessels and other property which now become the property of the Soviet Republic .....

4. The institutions and organizations mentioned above are authorized to appoint temporary commissars to take charge of the offices of the steamship companies. They must see to it that the offices and agencies continue their business and that the repairing of boats does not stop. The above is to be enforced even to the point of threatening to hand over the employees to the revolutionary court. The commissars who are appointed to take charge of these offices have control of all the company's money, pay the workers their wages promptly and at the old scale, appropriate money for repairs, etc.

5. More detailed instructions regarding the nationalization of shipping enterprises will be issued in a special decree.

6. This decree becomes effective by telegraph.


President of the Sovnarkom


People's Commissars