« AnteriorContinuar »
Numbered 201, Sixty-first Congress; 36 Stat. 462): Provided, That nothing in this Act shall be deemed to alter or amend section 4417a of the Revised Statutes (U. S. C., 1934 edition, Supp. IV, title 46, sec. 391a), the Act of August 26, 1935 (U. S. C., 1934 edition, Supp. IV, ch. 7A, secs. 178 and 179), the Act of June 20, 1936 (U. S. C., 1934 edition, Supp. IV, title 46, sec. 367), or repeal Acts of Congress or treaties embodying or revising international rules for preventing collisions at sea. SEC. 20. There are hereby authorized to be appropriated such sums as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act.
DEPARTMENT OF CoMMERCE, Washington, April 20, 1939. Hon. W. B. BANKHEAD, Speaker, House of Representatives, Washington, D. C. MY DEAR MR. SPEAKER: I have the honor to submit for your consideration draft of a proposed bill to amend laws for preventing collisions of vessels, to regulate equipment of certain motorboats on the navigable waters of the United States, and for other purposes, and enclosed memorandum from the Director of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, this Department, which explains the provisions and the purpose of the proposed legislation and the reasons for its enactment, and which may be of assistance in your consideration of the matter. The Department is in favor of the enactment of this proposed legislation. The Bureau of the Budget has advised that there is no objection to the submission of this legislation to the Congress. Very sincerely yours, J. M. Johnson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce.
DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE,
Memorandum to the Secretary of Commerce.
The necessity for amending the Motorboat Act of June 9, 1910 (36 Stat. 462), has for several years been appreciated by this Bureau, has frequently during the same period been encouraged by the various motorboat organizations, and was considered by the then Secretary of Commerce to be of such urgency that he transmitted on December 18, 1937, a bill to repeal the present Motorboat Act and to enact new legislation dealing with the subject. That bill dealt not only with equipment on motorboats and licensing of operators on those motorboats engaged in carrying passengers for hire but also proposed to subject a large class of such vessels to inspection. The bill, which passed the Senate with minor amendments, was the subject of public hearings before the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, on April 19, 1938, but was not reported to the House by that committee because of the committee's desire to make a further study of the problems involved. This Bureau, after further study on consideration, does not deem it desirable to present in one bill matters dealing with motorboat equipment and licensing of operators on such boats when carrying pasengers for hire, and the subject of inspection of motorboats and motor vessels, as it seems proper and fitting that the matters be dealt with separately. The present bill therefore does not deal with matters concerning inspection of motorboats. After transmission of the bill to Congress last year, the Department, on February 21, 1938, in a letter to the chairman of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, recommended certain changes in the bill; and thereafter, on April 18, 1938, made further suggestions for amendments to the bill which were most desirable and necessary. During the course of the hearings, there were other suggestions for amendment made by interested persons, some of which appear to this Bureau to be very desirable. The Bureau is of the opinion that there is necessity for such legislation, and therefore, transmits to you the attached draft of a bill which, it is believed, will not only meet present conditions but those which may arise in the future. If this meets with your approval, I suggest the advisability of its introduction into Congress at as early a date at the present session of the Seventy-sixth Congress as may be feasible. The draft of the bill is almost identical with those sections of the former bill dealing with the subject of motorboat equipment and licensing of operators, together with certain rephrasing in accordance with suggestions made to the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries at the hearing last year. There is submitted herewith the following comparative statement of the provisions of the Motorboat Act of June 9, 1910, and the draft of the bill, together with a statement of the reasons for the changes in the present law which are suggested. Section 1 of the motorboat law defines the words “motor boat” as including every vessel propelled by machinery not more than 65 feet in length except tugboats and towboats propelled by steam. It also provides that the engine, boiler, or other operating machinery of motorboats which are more than 40 feet in length and which are propelled by machinery driven by steam, shall be subject to inspection by the local inspectors of steam vessels. Section 1 of the present bill is identical in its language with section 1 of the law. Section 2 of the act divides motorboats into three classes as follows: Class 1. Less than 26 feet in length. Class. 2. Twenty-six feet or over and less than 40 feet in length. Class 3. Forty feet or over and not more than 65 feet in length. Section 2 of the bill divides motorboats into four classes as follows: Class A. Less than 16 feet in length. Class 1. Sixteen feet or over and less than 26 feet in length. Class 2. Twenty-six feet or over and less than 40 feet in length. Class 3. Forty feet or over and not more than 65 feet in length, classes 2 and 3 being identical with the same classes as set forth in the present law. It appears that small motorboats of less than 16 feet in length, which, generally speaking, are open boats, do not have sufficient space for carrying all of the equipment required of the larger boats, nor does it seem necessary that they should carry all such equipment. It is felt that they can be safely navigated with a lesser amount of equipment than is required for the larger classes of boats. Section 3 of the bill provides for the lights to be carried by motorboats when under way at night. Subsection (a) of the bill is entirely new and provides that motorboats of class A (which are less than 16 feet in length) shall carry a bright white light only when under way. Such a light seems to be sufficient for all practical purposes on the small craft. Subsection (b) of the bill, which specifies the lights to be carried by motorboats of class s, is identical with section 3 (a) of the present law. Subsection (c) of the bill, which specifies the lights to be carried by motorboats of classes 2 and 3, is identical with section 3 (b) of the act except that it does not specify the size and type of lenses required in the lights specified, or the dimensions of the inboard screens. It appears that detailed specifications of this type properly should be left to regulation instead of being fixed by statute. A provision at the end of section 3 of the present act provides that motorboats when propelled by sail and machinery or under sail alone shall carry the colo side lights suitably screened but not the white lights prescribed by this section. Subsection (d) of section 3 of the draft bill also provides that motorboats, when propelled by sail and machinery, or by sail alone, shall carry the colored side lights, suitably screened, but not the white lights prescribed by that section, with the further proviso that motorboats of classes A and 1 (those less than 26 feet in length) when propelled by sail and machinery, or by sail alone, shall carry ready at hand, a lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to avert collision. The present act makes no specific provision for lights to be carried by motorboats of class 1 when under way at night and propelled by sail and machinery or by sail alone, as the act simply requires motorboats under those conditions to carry side lights. It would appear that these small boats when so propelled, should not be required to set up side lights with screens in addition to the o to." prescribed by statute, or which it is proposed to prescribe in the draft bill. Article 7 of the Inland Rules of the Road provides that rowboats whether under oars or sail, shall have ready at hand a lantern showing a white light which shall be temporarily exhibited in sufficient time to prevent collision. The 155581—39—2
proposed requirement of the draft bill that motorboats under sail and less than 26 feet in length shall carry such a light, seems to be sufficient for safety purposes. The illumination of the sail of such a boat by means of a flashlight is far more effective in disclosing the location and direction of a sailboat than the small side lights which could be carried on such boats. Subsection (e) of section 3 of the draft bill specifies the radius of visibility to be required of all lights prescribed by this section and is a new subsection. The Rules of the Road contain similar provisions for the lights to be carried on steam and motor vessels more than 65 feet in length. The requirements of the present draft bill are not as great in this respect as those for larger vessels on which the inland rules require that the white lights be visible for a distance of at least 5 miles and the colored side lights for a distance of at least 2 miles. Section 4 (a) of the present act requires every motorboat, regardless of size, to be provided with a whistle or other sound-producing mechanical appliance and sets up certain requirements for the efficiency of such an appliance. Section 4 of the draft bill requires motorboats of 16 feet in length or over, to be provided with an efficient whistle or other sound-producing mechanical appliance. It appears that specifications as to the efficiency of such an appliance might well be left to regulation rather than to statute. It is to be noted that the present draft bill does not require a whistle on motorboats of class A (less than 16 feet in length). Such a device on these small boats would not seem to serve any useful purpose. Section 4 (b) of the present law requires every motorboat of classes 2 and 3 to be provided with an efficient foghorn. There is no similar requirement in the draft bill as there seems to be no necessity for a foghorn on a motorboat. The Inland Rules provide in part III for sound signals in a fog and that all signals prescribed in that part for vessels under way shall be given by steam vessels (including motorboats) on the whistle or siren. Part IV of the same rules provides for passing signals to be given by steam vessels (including motorboats) and in each case specifies that those signals shall be sounded on the whistle. Section 4 (c) of the present law requires every motorboat of classes 2 and 3 to be provided with an efficient bell and specifies the size of bell required on motorboats of class 3. Section 5 of the draft bill requires every motorboat of classes 2 and 3 to be provided with an efficient bell. It appears that the matter of the size and other specifications of the bell might well be left to regulation. Section 5 of the present act provides in part that motorboats and other vessels propelled by machinery other than by steam more than 65 feet in length, shall carry either life preservers, or life belts, or buoyant cushions, or ring buoys, or other device, to be prescribed by the Secretary of Commerce, sufficient to sustain afloat every person and so placed as to be readily accessible. The same section of the present law requires also that all motorboats carrying passengers for hire shall carry one life preserver of the sort prescribed by the board of supervising inspectors for every passenger carried. Section 6 of the draft bill provides that every motorboat and all vessels propelled by machinery other than by steam more than 65 feet in length, shall carry at least one life preserver, or life belt, or ring buoy, or other device of the sort prescribed by the regulations of the board of supervising inspector; with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce, for each person on board and so placed as to be readily accessible. It appears highly desirable in the interests of safety, to require that there be a separate individual life preserver or similar device for each person on board. It is further thought that the board of supervising inspectors, which has for a long period approved life preservers and other devices submitted to it for use on inspected vessels, should be designated to approve all such devices whether used on inspected or uninspected vessels. The same section of the draft bill requires at least one life preserver of the sort prescribed by the regulations of the board of supervising inspectors with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce, for each person on board rather than for each passenger on board, in order that all persons on board may be provided with a proper life preserver at all times. Section 5 of the present law further provides that motorboats when carrying passengers for hire, must be in charge of a duly licensed operator who must be issued an operator's license by the board of local inspectors without examination. Section 7 of the draft bill requires that motorboats when carrying passengers for hire, must be in charge of a duly licensed operator who may be issued a license only after an examination to determine that the applicant is a proper person to be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities connected with such a position.” Section 5 of the present law also provides that the operator's license shall be revoked or suspended by the local board of inspectors for misconduct, gross negligence, recklessness in navigation, intemperance, or violation of law on the part of the holder, and if revoked, the person holding such license shall be incapable of obtaining another such license for 1 year from the date of revocation. The draft bill provides that the operator's license shall be subject to suspension or revocation on the same ground and in the same manner and with like procedure as is provided in section 4450 of the Revised Statutes as amended, in the case of suspension or revocation of licenses of officers of inspected vessels. Section 4450 of the Revised Statutes as amended by section 4 of the act of May 27, 1936, sets up special boards to investigate the conduct of licensed officers and authorizes the Director of this Bureau to suspend or revoke the license of an officer if he shall find that such officer is incompetent or has been guilty of misconduct, unskillfulness, negligence, or has injured life or has willfully violated any of the provisions of title LII of the Revised Statutes or any of the regulations issued thereunder which are applicable to him. The section further provides for an appeal from the decision of the Director. It seems desirable and proper that the same machinery be used in investigating the acts of incompetency, misconduct, etc., on the part of licensed operators who are in charge of motorboats engaged in carrying passengers for hire. Section 6 of the present act requires that every motorboat and also every vessel propelled by machinery other than by steam, 65 feet in length, shall carry ready for immediate use, the means of promptly and effectually extinguishing burning gasoline. Section 8 of the draft bill deals with the same subject but in different language. This section provides that every motorboat and every vessel propelled by machinery other than by steam, more than 65 feet in length, shall be provided with such number, size, and type of fire extinguishers, capable of promptly and effectually extinguishing burning gasoline as may be prescribed by the regulations of the board of supervising inspectors with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce, which shall be at all times kept in condition for immediate and effective use and so placed as to be readily accessible. In a final decree of the United States District Court in and for the Southern District of Florida, in the case of the United States of America v. Motor Vessel V–9028, her tackle apparel, apparel, furniture, fixtures, engines, and cargo, it appeared to the court “that the res herein libeled by the United States for a penalty alleged to have been incurred by the said res for that the said motor vessel did not carry ready for immediate use the means of promptly and effectually extinguishing burning gasoline, in that there was not on board the vessel ready for immediate use, a fire extinguisher of the type approved by the Secretary of Commerce and required to be carried on all motorboats when being navigated, as set forth in regulation No. 14, promulgated by the Secretary of the Department of Commerce under the act of June 9, 1910, as the same appears in Department of Commerce Circular No. 236, 16th edition, dated May 16, 1933, and the court being of the opinion that there was no authority vested in the Secretary of Commerce under section 8 of the act of June 9, 1910, to adopt said regulation No. 14, providing an exclusive list of types of fire extinguishers, and that without one of the so-listed fire extinguishers a penalty attaches.” As a result of that decree the Department of Commerce has been precluded from specifying the types of fire extinguishers to be carried on motorboats. It would appear that authority to specify both the number, size, and type of fire extinguishers should be vested in the Board of Supervising Inspectors which has had considerable experience in examining such devices in order that motorboats may be properly protected in case of fire, and in order that motorboat owners and operators may not become the prey of unscrupulous manufacturers and dealerS. Section 9 of the draft bill provides that racing boats propelled by outboard motors, while tuning up for racing or while racing, are exempted from the requirements of the bill for having on board the whistle, bell, and fire extinguisher. The racing outboard motorboats are lightly constructed, frail craft generally speaking, which are operated at high speeds and which, because of their lightness, frequently jump clear of the water and pound badly in almost any kind of sea. It has been found by experience that it is difficult, if not practically impossible, to keep such equipment secured in craft of this type so that it will not get loose and either injure the occupant of the boat or knock a hole through the boat. It does not seem to serve any useful purpose on the boat while racing, and therefore, because of the dangers which arise from having such equipment in the boat, it has been felt that an exception should be granted. Section 10 of the draft bill provides that motorboats and other vessels covered by the bill shall have the carburetor or careburetors of every engine therein, using gasoline as fuel, equipped with such efficient flame arrester, backfire trap, or other similar device as may be prescribed by the regulations of the Board of Supervising Inspectors with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce. The exemption suggested in this section for boats propelled by outboard motors appears to be desirable and necessary because of the fact that few if any fires have occurred because of lack of flame arresters in backfire traps on outboard motors and because of the technical difficulties in equipping such motors with these devices. In this section provision is made that it shall apply only to such motorboats or vessels, the construction of which or the replacement of the engine or engines of which is commenced subsequent to the passage of the bill. There is no similar provision in the present law. Section 11 of the draft bill provides that every such motorboat and every such vessel, except open boats, using as fuel any liquid of a volatile nature, shall be provided with such means as may be prescribed by the regulations of the Board of Supervising Inspectors with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce, for properly and efficiently ventilating the bilges of the engine and fueltank compartments so as to remove any explosive or inflammable gases. In this section provision is made that the section shall apply only to such motorboats or vessels, the construction or decking over of which is commenced subsequent to the passage of the bill. There are no similar provisions in the present law. A great number of fires and explosions have occurred on motorboats resulting in loss of life and property. Investigations have developed that many of these fires are caused by the ignition of accumulated vapor in the bilges and tank compartments through the backfiring of the engines. It would appear that these provisions of the bill are urgently needed for the safety of life and property. Section 12 of the draft bill provides that motorboats shall not be required to carry on board copies of the pilot rules. The pilot rules themselves provide that every steam vessel (including motorboats) must have on board two copies of the rules to be observed by pilots. The present motorboat law is silent on this subject, and accordingly, the provisions of the pilot rules are in force. It seems to serve no useful purpose on motorboats, but does occasion considerable annoyance to owners and operators and involves considerable expense to the Department of Commerce in the printing and distributing of pilot rules. Section 13 of the draft bill prohibits any person from operating any motorboat or other vessel in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. Numbers of complaints have been received alleging that motorboats and other vessels have been operated in a negligent and reckless manner so as to endanger safety of life. The inspectors of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation have on a few occasions observed such operation of motorboats. In the interests of safety it would appear that such legislation is urgently needed. Section 14 of the draft bill provides a penalty for any person who operates a motorboat or other vessel in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any other person, and applies directly to the requirements in section 13 of the bill. Section 15 makes certain provisions for the enforcement of section 13 and provides a means for immediately removing the operator of a boat who is so operating that vessel as to endanger the safety of any person. Some such provision seems to be absolutely necessary, as such a person may do a great amount of damage by his continuous operation of any boat in such a manner as to endanger safety. The purpose of these provisions is not to impose monetary or other penalties for offenses, but to provide for greater safety of life and property. There are no provisions in the present act similar to those contained in sections 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, or 15 of the bill. Section 7 of the present act provides a fine not exceeding $100 for any violation of the act and provides further that the motorboat shall be liable for the penalty and may be proceeded against by way of libel. It appears that no action in personam may be instituted against the owner of the motorboat for violation of the provisions of the act. Sections 5 and 6 of the present law require vessels more than 65 feet in length and propelled by machinery other than by steam, to carry certain lifesaving and fire-fighting equipment. Section 7 of the present law provides that