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MOTORBOAT BILLS

TUESDAY, JUNE 6, 1939

House of REPRESENTATIVEs,

CoMMITTEE on MERCHANT MARINE AND FISHERIES,
Washington, D. C.

The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Schuyler O. Bland (chairman) presiding.

The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, we will convene the hearing on H. R. 6039 and H. R. 6273, and the committee, such of them as can come here, have considerable work this morning, and where a fellow just wants to get up and say something about the bill, unless he has suggestions to offer, such as suggesting amendments, as far as I can I want to get briefs in the record and not to take up the time with

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A 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

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the word “motorboat” where used in this Act shall include every vessel propelled by machinery and not more than sixty-five feet in length, except tugboats and towboats propelled by steam. The length shall be measured from end to end over the deck, excluding sheer: Provided, That the engine, boiler, or other operating machinery shall be subject to inspection by the local inspectors of steam vessels, and to their approval of the design thereof, on all said motorboats, which are more than forty feet in length, and which are propelled by machinery driven by steam. SEC. 2. Motorboats subject to the provisions of this Act shall be divided into four classes, as follows: Class A. Less than sixteen feet in length. Class 1. Sixteen feet or over and less than twenty-six feet in length. Class 2. Twenty-six feet or over and less than forty feet in length. Class 3. Forty feet or over and not more than sixty-five feet in length. SEc. 3. Every motorboat in all weathers from sunset to sunrise shall carry and exhibit the following lights when under way, and during such time no other lights which may be mistaken for those prescribed shall be exhibited: (a) Every motorboat of class A shall carry a bright white light, mounted either at the bow or on the stern, so placed as to show all around the horizon. (b) Every motorboat of class 1 shall carry the following lights: First. A bright white light aft to show all around the horizon. Second. A combined lantern in the fore part of the vessel and lower than the white light aft, showing green to starboard and red to port, so fixed as to throw the light from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on their respective sides. (c) Every motorboat of classes 2 and 3 shall carry the following lights: First. A bright white light in the fore part of the vessel as near the stem as practicable, so constructed as to show an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of twenty points of the compass, so fixed as to throw the light ten points on each side of the vessel; namely, from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on either side. 1

Second. A bright white light aft to show all around the horizon and higher than the white light forward. Third. On the starboard side a green light So constructed as to show an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of ten points of the compass, so fixed as to throw the light from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on the starboard side. On the port side a red light so constructed as to show an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of ten points of the compass, so fixed as to throw the light from right ahead to two points abaft the beam on the port side. The said side lights shall be fitted with inboard screens of sufficient height so set as to prevent these lights from being seen across the bow. (d) Motorboats, when propelled by sail and machinery, or by sail alone, shall carry the colorod side lights, suitably screened, but not the white lights prescribed by this section, except in the case of motorboats of classes A and 1, which shall carry, ready at hand, a lantern showing a white light which shall be exhibited in sufficient time to avert collision. (e) Every white light prescribed by this section shall be of such character as to be visible at a distance of at least two miles. Every colored light prescribed by this section shall be of such character as to be visible at a distance of at least one mile. The word “visible” in this Act, when applied to lights, shall mean visible on a dark night with clear atmosphere. SEC. 4. Every motorboat of class 1, 2, or 3, shall be provided with an efficient whistle or other sound-producing mechanical appliance. SEC. 5. Every motorboat of class 2 or 3 shall be provided with an efficient bell. SEC. 6. Every motorboat subject to any of the provisions of this Act and also all vessels propelled by machinery other than by steam more than sixty-five 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 inspectors with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce, for each person on board, so placed as to be readily accessible: Provided, That every such motorboat and every such vessel propelled by machinery other than by steam more than sixty-five feet in length, carrying passengers for hire, shall carry so placed as to readily accessible 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. SEC. 7. No such motorboat, while carrying passengers for hire, shall be operated or navigated except in charge of a person duly licensed for such service by a local board of inspectors. Whenever any person applies to be licensed as operator of any motorboat carrying passengers for hire, the inspectors shall make diligent inquiry as to his character, and shall carefully examine the applicant as well as the proofs which he presents in support of his claim, and if they are satisfied that his capacity, experience, habits of life, and character are such as to warrant the belief that he can safely be entrusted with the duties and responsibilities of the station for which he makes application, they shall grant him a license authorizing him to discharge such duties on any such motorboat carrying passengers for hire for the term of five years. Such license shall be subject to suspension or revocation on the same grounds and in the same manner and with like procedure as is provided in the case of suspension or revocation of licenses of officers under the provisions of section 4450 of the Revised Statutes, as amended (U. S. C., 1934 edition, Supp. III, title 46, sec. 239): Provided, That motorboats shall not be required to carry licensed officers except as required in this Act. SEC. 8. Every motorboat and also every vessel propelled by machinery other than by steam more than sixty-five 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 fire extinguishers shall be at all times kept in condition for immediate and effective use and shall be so placed as to be readily accessible. SEC. 9. The provisions of sections 4, 5, and 8 of this Act shall not apply to motorboats propelled by outboard motors while competing in any race previously arranged and announced or, if such boats be designed and intended solely for racing, while engaged in such navigation as is incidental to the tuning up of the boats and engines for the race. SEC. 10. Every motorboat and also every vessel propelled by machinery other than by steam more than sixty-five feet in length shall have the carburetor or carburetors of every engine therein (except outboard motors) using gasoline as fuel, equipped with such efficient flame arrestor, 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: Provided, That this section 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 this Act. SEC. 11. 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 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 fuel tank compartments so as to remove any explosive or inflammable gases: Provided, That this section shall apply only to such motorboats or vessels, the construction or decking over of which is commenced subsequent to the passage of this Act. SEC. 12. Motorboats shall not be required to carry on board copies of the pilot rules. SEC. 13. No person shall operate any motorboat or any vessel in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person. SEc. 14. Any person who shall operate any motorboat or any vessel in a reckless or negligent manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and on conviction thereof by any court of competent jurisdiction shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $2,000, or by imprisonment for a term of not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court. SEc. 15. Any officer of the United States authorized to enforce the navigation laws of the United States or designated by the Secretary of Commerce shall have power and authority to swear out process and to arrest and take into custody, with or without process, any person who may commit any act or offense prohibited by section 13, or who may violate any provision of said section: Provided, That no person shall be arrested without process for any offense not committed in the presence of some one of the aforesaid officials: Provided further, That whenever an arrest is made under the provisions of this Act, the person so arrested shall be brought forthwith before a commissioner, judge, or court of the United States for examination of the offense alleged against him, and such commissioner, judge, or court shall proceed in respect thereto as authorized by law in cases of crimes against the United States. SEc. 16. If any motorboat or vessel subject to any of the provisions of this Act is operated or navigated in violation of this Act or any regulation issued thereunder, the owner or operator, either one or both of them, shall, in addition to any other penalty prescribed by law than that contained in section 14 of this Act, be liable to a penalty of $100: Provided, That in the case of motorboats or vessels subject to the provisions of this Act carrying passengers for hire, a penalty of $200 shall be imposed on the owner or operator either one or both of them, thereof for any violation of section 6, 7, or 8 of this Act or of any regulations pertaining thereto. For any penalty incurred under this section the motorboat or vessel shall be held liable and may be proceeded against by way of libel in the district court of any district in which said motorboat or vessel may be found. SEC. 17. The board of supervising inspectors with the approval of the Secretary of Commerce shall establish all necessary regulations required to carry out in the most effective manner all of the provisions of this Act, and such regulations when approved by the Secretary of Commerce shall have the force of law. The Secretary of Commerce or any officer of the Department of Commerce authorized by the Secretary of Commerce may, upon application therefor, remit or mitigate any fine, penalty, or forfeiture incurred under this Act or any regulation thereunder relating to motorboats or vessels, except the penalties provided for in section 14 hereunder. The Secretary of Commerce shall establish such regulations as may be necessary to secure the enforcement of the provisions of this Act by any officer of the United States authorized to enforce the navigation laws of the United States or designated by him. SEC. 18. The proviso contained in the last paragraph of section 2 of the Act of May 11, 1918 (40 Stat. 549), and the proviso contained in section 4399 of the Revised Statutes, as amended (48 Stat. 125), are amended by striking out “June 9, 1910," and inserting in lieu thereof the date of the enactment of this Act. SEC. 19. This Act shall take effect on and after one year from the date of its approval, and will then repeal the Motor Boat Act of June 9, 1910 (Public,

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