DESERTION OF SEAMEN, contracts. The abandonment, by a sailor, of a ship or vessel, in which he engaged to perform a voyage, before the expiration of his time, and without leave.

2. Desertion, without just cause, renders the sailor liable, on his shipping articles, for damages, and will, besides, work a forfeiture of his wages previously earned.

3 Kent, Com. 155. It has been decided, in England, that leaving the ship before the completion of the voyage is not desertion, in the case, 1. Of the seaman's entering into the public service, either voluntarily or by impress; and 2. When he is compelled to leave it by the inhuman treatment of the captain. 2 Esp. R. 269; 1 Bell's Com. 514, 5th ed.; 2 Rob. Adm. R. 232.