Much of our national maritime policy is deep-rooted in the body of American admiralty law. Traditionally, Congress and the courts of admiralty have viewed the merchant seaman as within their protective custody because of the inherent danger of his calling and the unique status of his contract of employment. To encourage shipbuilding and develop the American Merchant Marine, similar protection has been extended to the shipowner by enabling him to limit his financial risks in the event of disaster. Conversely, the concept of punitive damages finds no statutory support in our maritime law and has been so seldom awarded as to make questionable its acceptance.
Arthur E. Miller, Punitive Damages against Shipowners, 18 Clev.-Marshall L. Rev. 564 (1969)