« PreviousContinue »
(The document referred to follows:)
STATEMENT OF EDWARD JOSEPH FARR, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT, BROTHERHOOD OF MARINE OFFICERS, NMU-AFL-CIO
My name is E. Joseph Farr. I am the chief executive of the Brotherhood of Marine Officers, affiliated with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations. I am associated with the maritime industry forty years, and have an engineer's license issued by the U.S. Coast Guard.
I am deeply grateful to appear today, on such an important issue and I feel certain that at the termination of this and perhaps, if necessary, further hearings, will prove the feasibility of continued operation of the NS Savannah. Since the BMO assumed jurisdiction of licensed officers aboard this vessel four years ago, I've strained to see that this important "atoms for peace" project did not fall by the wayside and that it carried out its intended mission.
That same mission, gentlemen, is the concern of every American today and will continue to be in the future interest of this country's goal of world peace.
The first important step undertaken by the BMO, was to secure, from the other unions representing personnel aboard this vessel, a strong and sincere pledge that this vessel would not be hampered in her operation with labor problems. I would like to elaborate on this later in my text.
"Laid up, the NS Savannah would in essence be silent testimony to the failure of the United States to apply marine atomic power to anything except weapons of offense."
This is quoted from a letter received from Dr. A. S. Limouze, President of Massachusetts Maritime Academy.
It points up the fact that any decision regarding the ultimate disposition of the nuclear ship Savannah must be based on the fact that more than just the life or death of a particular ship is involved. I submit the proposition that the entire future of maritime trade is involved, since that future lies in nuclear shipping and that the future of U.S. nuclear shipping ties in strongly with the future of the Savannah, and its continued active service.
I shall present three separate and distinct categories of evidence:
1. That the reported financial savings of decommissioning her are practically non-existent, that of the other possible ways of utilizing her, only active participation in the merchant fleet makes sense.
2. That our image on an international stage will be irrepairably damaged by this contemplated lay-up-to the extent that other nations will surpass us in what is fast becoming second generation nuclear shipping as in Japan and Russia or else will laugh at us for giving up the Savannah.
3. That our first-hand, four-year experience in operating a nuclear ship gives us an edge in the development of second generation nuclear shipping which will conceivably be lost to us if she is taken out of the service.
Additionally, I will offer an evaluation of her unique place in labor-management relations since we assume manning. I will define the position of the Brotherhood of Marine Officers regarding our willingness to cooperate with the United States government in every way possible to keep her sailing.
Before going into the matter as outlined above, I would like to make it quite clear that the Brotherhood of Marine Officers has little to gain personally by the continued operation of the Savannah. There is, as you are probably aware, an acute shortage of marine officer personnel-so acute, in fact, that we have started an apprentice engineering program to produce more officers to fill our needs.
Those of our members who are now associated with the Savannah and would be willing to stay in the industry should she be de-commissioned, would have other berths immediately. Our concern is with the loss of trained and experienced nuclear man-power, which, with her de-commissioning, would be quickly absorbed into what is now second generation shore-side nuclear plants, or would be snatched up by other nations to help them develop superior nuclear propulsion. The damage to the American Merchant Marine would be two-fold: (A) It would present to our competitors a trained and cohesive pool from which to draw their own nuclear needs; and (B) It would destroy the carefully built-up cadre of skilled personnel, which has been planned as the back bone of second generation American nuclear shipping.
NS Savannah as a nuclear ship has brought no additional revenue to the B. M. O. On the other hand, she has presented problems, in the successful operation due
to lack of experience in manning nuclear ships, which no other vessel in the American Merchant Marine could raise. Quite honestly, there have been times when we in the B. M. O. have thought what a pleasure it would be to lay hands on the guy who thought this one up! The problems that arose all managed to be solved.
1. LAYUP VERSUS OPERATING COSTS
We have been given to understand that the projected 1967 total cost to the government for continuing the Savannah is about 2.7 million dollars. This includes operation, training and technical support. The government's cost for operating subsidy on a C4 freighter is $700,000.
The additional cost to the government for operating the only nuclear ship in the world over the cost to it of a conventional ship is therefore $2,000,000.00. The cost of a temporary lay-up would be about $1,500,000 for the first year, with a slight reduction for the second year. This last amount would remain constant for each year of the lay-up.
The differential is $500,000. This is what they say the government might save per year by laying her up on a temporary basis.
To spend this sum for the total destruction of the protoype of the future of the merchant marine seems to me to be the very epitomy of false economy: $5,000,000. would pay the government's nuclear differential for ten years of operation! It is reported that the costs to remove the reactor and core would be about $5,000,000.
We have considered other uses for her which might be more productive. She could be turned over to the government and perhaps become the 71st nuclear naval vessel, or in some other governmental capacity. Naturally the government would pay the bill for its entire operation. She could then no longer be able to contribute to the policy "atoms for peace". She could also be used as a training ship for producing additional nuclear-trained personnel, however, with no nuclear ships available, we certainly do not need more trained personnel over and above the personnel, presently sufficient to man four nuclear vessels, if such ships were available; this training program would then supply shore-based nuclear plants and foreign countries with their personnel needs-at American government expenses-false economy indeed.
She could also be turned into a tourist attraction at Savannah, Georgia to remind the people of the United States that once again we took a first step into a new era, only to hand the prizes, the ultimate pay-off, over to other nations, who always seem to be more far-sighted and success-minded than we.
One example of this is the SS Savannah for which this vessel was named and the startling similarity in their developments: the SS Savannah made the first successful voyage under steam, then because steam was "too expensive" her boilers were removed and she returned to sail. But Britain capitalized on our daring and thereby became the foremost maritime power just over a century ago. Are we to repeat this terrible error?
The NS Savannah to revert back to her original purpose, to bring home to the people of the world, that the United States is and will remain interested that atoms can be used in peace as well as in war. This, again could mean, the government foots the bill with no income accruing. In fact, it would cost the government considerably more because we would pay the cost of entertaining foreign dignitaries aboard her. It is true, that she has not visited a large part of the world to display her unique qualities but it is my contention that she could perform this service to the world bringing prestige to our country and still pay part of her own cost as a commercial operated vessel.
There are undoubtedly other uses to which she might be put which would in the words of the government "make the Savannah” more productive but the question to keep in mind is whether she will continue to testify to the genuine desire of our government to apply atomic power to something besides weapons of offense.
2. OUR IMAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
I have already indicated certain aspects of the international complications which lay up of the Savannah would have. Our image in the Far East presents problems. Many people there feel that we are aggressive and war mongering. To sail the ship there, on a commercial basis, would show, in effect, that we are still interested in using atoms for peace, it would do it at the least expense to the gov
ernment-since the longer the voyage the cheaper it is for nuclear propelled ships compared to fuel oil propelled ones and in carrying cargo this ship would pay at least part of her own way.
Besides these considerations, there is a further one, namely, that other nations such as Japan and Russia are developing second generation nuclear shipping. If we are to compete for any part of the world market-even our own—we must remain active in the nuclear maritime field.
I quote from the Shipping and Trade News, January 28, 1967 from an article entitled "Japan Eyes Building Of Second Nuclear Vessel":
"A plan is being studied to build a nuclear powered container ship able to carry 1,000 containers with a service speed of 30 knots. The container'ship will be the second nuclear powered ship to be built by Japan. The first nuclear powered vessel planned for construction is an 8,300 ton special-purpose freighter oceanographic observation ship, scheduled for completion in 1971. . . . The Atomic Energy Commission, Science & Technology Agency and the Transport Ministry reached agreement to complete a high-speed (nuclear) container ship by around fiscal 1975. . The Atomic Energy Commission is expected to incorporate the container ship construction plan in its long-term atomic energy utilization program covering the ten year period from fiscal 1967.
"The cost is double that for a diesel engine-powered ship of similar class and speed. Unlike the conventional ship, however, the nuclear powered container ship will be able to carry more containers and be more economical to operate. "Therefore, the Transport Ministry and the Science & Technology Agency claim that the operation cost of the ship will be cheaper. (It is expected that) the government will supply the funds necessary for making a preliminary survey on construction of the ship."
Other countries besides Japan are taking action. Germany, Russia and Italy are in various stages of nuclear ship planning and construction. Red China, according to the French Press, "has probably completed a nuclear ship which will be used for ferry service along the Chinese coast, in the China Sea. It will carry 3,400 passengers, at a cruising speed of 23.5 knots. Refueling will be done at special installations having all the required equipment. She will be called the "Zan Than" (Voice of the People)."
Britain is one of the few nations who is in a position to do so, but has not, as yet, entered this increasingly vital field. She will, undoubtedly, be speaking not only for herself but for the many other countries who are not able to compete in this area. The British magazine "The Economist" ran an article called "Atoms Unseaworthy" on January 28, 1967-the same date, incidentally, as the above quoted article on Japan-which starts: "So the British were right after all, the American Maritime Administration has announced that the "Savannah" the world's first and so far only nuclear powered atom merchant ship-is being taken out of service" and it ends with "Even the Americans have now grown tired of footing the subsidy bill for this great white sacred sea-cow". It smells to me suspiciously like sour grapes.
3. OUR POSITION IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF SECOND GENERATION NUCLEAR SHIPPING
In this regard the most important factor from the B. M. O.'s point of view, is to maintain an active pool of nuclear trained personnel in readiness for an eventual nuclear merchant marine.
The Brotherhood of Marine Officers proposed quite a while back, that the initial group of trainees (sea going licensed deck and engineer officers) be sufficient to eliminate any future possibility of a shortage, and the program be in a position to rotate the trained personnel between the Savannah and the regular fleet, in order to insure all trained personnel would not become rusty in the operational requirement of the Savannah. This has been done on many occasions to date.
This method of rotating was instituted with the thought of maintaining, not only the interest of the highly skilled nuclear reactor operators, but to afford the opportunity to our younger engineers and deck officers an opportunity to participate in the program. We have a standing list of potential candidates. We would hate to see them disappointed. Without the Savannah, this would be an impossibility.
In reviewing the Savannah story, nothing pleases me more than the matter on which I touched at the beginning of this statement: That the six unions: 1. Brotherhood of Marine Officers, 2. National Maritime Union of America, 3. Local 333, United Marine Division. 4. International Longshoremen Association, 5. American Radio Association, 6. Staff Officers Association of America, involved in sailing the Savannah worked out a plan that reflected the unique position which this ship has always held. Under the argis of the Brotherhood of Marine Officers, these unions agreed to sign a pledge that never would a strike or work stoppage interfere with her mission, This pledge has never been broken!
May we, perhaps, suggest the possibility that this is a start towards improved maritime stability! We don't know, but we do believe, this area could stand some thought and effort.
There have been problems relating to the Savannah. Many, if not most, have stemmed from a lack of experience in her operation, and a desire to be cautious and careful-perhaps, as more experience is beginning to show-too cautious. This, too, is an area which is open to further thought and exploration.
We have indicated in this statement that we sincerely desire to cooperate in every way with the government, management and labor, as we always have done, and intend to do in the future.
As one example: the training program that was formulated at the time the Brotherhood of Marine Officers became involved with the Savannah program was instrumental in furnishing the compliment mentioned earlier which we now have available for nuclear shipping.
However, we wonder if-with only one nuclear ship we need at this time to continue this intensive training program. Would it be possible, for instance, to incorporate in the regular under-graduate maritime academy programs the basic early stages of nuclear personnel training, and increase the on-ship training program to a degree that would make the present costly program unnecessary?
Due to the sudden illness of Mr. E. Joseph Farr the Brotherhood of Marine Officers asks the committee's indulgence. This statement is not complete because he was unable to finish it. We request, in his name, permission to expound further on this matter. If these hearings are rescheduled, we ask that time be allotted to the Brotherhood of Marine Officers on that day. Otherwise, we ask that the committee advise us of their preference as to how we could present further information on this very important matter. This would include any questions which the committee might wish to ask.
We extend, on Mr. Farr's behalf, best wishes for the successful outcome of these hearings.
BROTHERHOOD OF MARINE OFFICERS
SAVE THE "SAVANNAH"!
The Nuclear Ship Savannah will be laid up in August "for reasons of economy", President Johnson has announced. This casual pronouncement signs a devastating blow to national pride and performance
Here are the facts about this most advanced vessel of the U.S. Merchant Marine, the world's first and only nuclear powered merchant vessel . Here are the facts about what she means to the country sailing and what she will mean if she is cast aside as the President has announced.
We give you the facts; perhaps you can answer the burning question: What suicidal folly impels this Nation to take this proud achievement of American scientific knowledge and maritime skill and consign it to the boneyard?
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
In 1819, the United States of America developed, built and operated the world's first steamship, the SS Savannah. She made one highly successful voyage. Then the government decided that "steam" was too expensive. Her engines were removed, and she was sent to sea as a saling ship.
But Europe was impressed with her performance. While we spent our energy and money re-converting her, England took up where we left off: she turned to steam. We built beautiful and elegant sails (the entire Clipper line), and had a wonderful time dressing up the old sails. We took sails further than any other country ever had. But-we were stuck in a sail-boat rut.
In no time flat, Britain had surpassed us on the high seas. By picking up what we dropped, England became the foremost Merchant Marine Power-truly the Ruler of the Seas.
We had had it in our hands, but we let it go: England recognized the value of steam, and cashed in on it. The results, for us, were disastrous. England became the primary World Maritime Power: the country on which "the sun never set." 1969 will mark the 150th anniversary of the old Savannah's birth.
The parallel between the Old and the New Savannah is remarkable. Once again we were "first", this time in the development of nuclear ship power. Again, we have operated the NS Savannah just long enough to prove her value, just long enough for other nations to become aware of nuclear potential. Now our government plans to lay her up.
The consequences were harmful to us in 1819; the consequences will be staggering in 1967. The rest of the world is not so foolish as we; already they are using our Savannah experience for the development of their own merchant marines. If we insist on sticking with steam, we shall soon find ourselves stuckwith ordinary steam.
THE VIETNAM WAR NEED FOR SHIPS
The NS Savannah is being sold down the river. At the extremely young age of six, at a time when our country needs every ship we can muster, and just as she is reaching her true commercial potential, our government is planning to lay her up!
In her first year of commercial operation, Savannah carried 40,000 tons of cargo. In the following four months, she carried another 20,000 tons. How will the next 60,000 tons after that be delivered?
There are two choices:
1. We can take another old ship out of the boneyard. But we've always taken so many out of moth-balls that there isn't much left. Besides, the cost of reactivating one of those "rust buckets" runs to about one-half million dollars. Then too, these old crates spend almost as much time in shipyards being repaired as they do on the high seas. We say nothing about the mounting repair bills!
2. We can let foreign flag ships carry our American cargoes. We can permit our Merchant Marine to dwindle further and face the impact on our general economy: a further escalation in our balance of payments (which in 1963 showed a net deficit of $55-million, with the upward trend continuing progressively), and a loss of tax revenue from taxable wages and corporation taxes amounting yearly to well over $160-million, as well as the incalculable loss of the good will and prestige that accrues to our country from our ships and ship personnel visiting ports of foreign countries.
How can anyone figure that it makes good sense to lay up a perfectly good ship in view of our desparate need of ships?
CONSEQUENCES OF "SAVANNAH" LAY-UP
To interrupt the continuity of our nuclear shipping program at this time of crisis is dealing a deadly blow to the future of American sea commerce. Four years of personnel training and experience will go down the drain. These highly trained people will not stand around waiting: they will take their skills to other industries-perhaps to other countries.
And then, when all the other nations (unfriendly as well as friendly ones) have taken full advantage of our technical knowledge to develop nuclear vessels of their own, then we will have to start at the beginning again. We will need a new training program, a new technical system, and new design concepts.
We have all this now. We also have the magnificent group of men who have the technical know-how, the interest and the ability to continue the progress already made in experiments in more economical operation, increased speed, reduction in fuel consumption (which already is better than anticipated), and hundreds of other technical advances.
By continuing the operational use of the Savannah, we will continue to advance our position in world transportation until a program is developed by the United States that will put us as far ahead of the rest of the world comercially as we are technically at this moment.
If we lay up the NS Savannah, we will destroy the next generation's hopes of competing in a world market.