An old maritime tradition holds that the captain is the last to leave if a ship is evacuated. If a country evacuates an embassy in a country where the security situation has rapidly deteriorated or a hostile regime has taken over, and repatriate any other nationals willing and able to leave, does there exist any similar tradition or custom? Is the ambassador the last to leave the embassy / country in a case of evacuation?

  • 1
    Do you have any source motivating the idea of embassy customs being based on boats, or is it just a guess?
    – Sneftel
    Aug 17, 2021 at 9:38
  • @Sneftel No. Just a guess.
    – gerrit
    Aug 17, 2021 at 11:21
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    Don't have sources for such a broad claim, but I think in usual circumstances the embassy is closed and the ambassador leaves well before there's such a "sinking ship" scenario so "departure order" is seldom recorded or relevant. Saigon etc. are rather the exception. There's a FP article that covers more US embassy closures... don't have time to read right now foreignpolicy.com/2013/08/06/… Aug 17, 2021 at 11:39
  • Some people in British politics appear to think so: theguardian.com/politics/2021/aug/16/…
    – Relaxed
    Aug 19, 2021 at 15:01

1 Answer 1


In the evacuation of the American Embassy in Vietnam, 30th April 1975, The Ambassador was among the last civilians to be evacuated. But a contingent of Marines remained, to provide security as the Ambassador left.

The Ambassador evacuated at 4:58am, and the marines were evacuated at 7:53am of the same day.

Generally an ambassador is responsible for the organisation of matters in their embassy, and so for operational reasons the ambassador would be one of the last to leave. But the "last helicopter" will likely be carrying military, not civillians.

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