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Manual of the Laws of Naval War. Oxford, 9 August 1913.
Section IV : On the rights and duties of the belligerent with regard to enemy property - Art. 32.
Art. 32. Public and private vessels -- Stopping, visit, and search. All vessels other than those of the navy, whether they belong to the State or to individuals, may be summoned by a belligerent war-ship to stop, that a visit and search may be conducted on board them.
The belligerent war-ship, in ordering a vessel to stop, shall fire a charge of powder as a summons and, if that warning is not sufficient, shall fire a projectile across the bow of the vessel. Previously or at the same time, the war-ship shall hoist its flag, above which, at night, a signal light shall be placed. The vessel answers the signal by hoisting its own flag and by stopping at once; whereupon, the war-ship shall send to the stopped vessel a launch manned by an officer and a sufficient number of men, of whom only two or three shall accompany the officer on board the stopped vessel.
Visit consists in the first place in an examination of the ship's papers.
If the ship's papers are insufficient or not of a nature to allay suspicion, the officer conducting the visit has the right to proceed to a search of the vessel, for which purpose he must ask the cooperation of the captain.
Visit of post packets must, as Article 53
says, be conducted with all the consideration and all the expedition possible.
Vessels convoyed by a neutral war-ship are not subject to visit except in so far as permitted by the rules relating to convoys.