« PreviousContinue »
The CHAIRMAN. Congressman William T. Byrne, of the Twentyeighth Congressional District of New York, who is also representing the Albany Port Authority, is unable to be present but wishes a notation to be made in the record that he is very much in favor of House Joint Resolution 519, which is the amended resolution, and as I recall the amendment is matter added to the original resolution,
STATEMENT OF HON. FRANK H. BUCK, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA Mr. Buck. Mr. Chairman, I am appearing as author of the joint resolution which is before you today. I wish to speak very briefly and give a little of the background.
The shippers of cargo from the Pacific coast have been very greatly disturbed and hampered by the gradual decrease in the number of ships in the Atlantic-Pacific intercoastal trade since the outbreak of the present world war. Whether or not, as some contend, the trade was overstocked prior to that period, it certainly is far understocked at the present time.
There are available ships for replacements, and I have no doubt there may be others in the coastal trade and nonessential foreign trade routes which have suffered likewise, some 100 ships which constitute what is known as the sterilized fleet of the American Maritime Commission. These are ships that are over 20 years
age. The purpose of the resolution which I originally introduced was to repeal section 510 (g) of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936, as amended, which provides as follows, and for the information of the committee I should like to read that subsection:
(g) An obsolete vessel acquired by the Commission under this section which is or becomes twenty years old or more, and vessels presently in the Commission's laid-up fleet which are or become twenty years old or more, shall in no case be used for commercial operation, except that any such obsolete vessel, or any such vessel in the laid-up fleet may be used during any period in which vessels may be requisitioned under section 902 of this Act, as amended, and except as otherwise provided in this Act for the employment of the Commission's vessels in steamship lines on trade routes exclusively serving the foreign trade of the United States.
The exception provides that, in the event the President shall find that a national emergency exists, these vessels may be utilized otherwise than as set out in subsection (g). We do not contend that a national emergency exists. In fact, I think that the President would find it rather difficult to justify a proclamation to that effect which would release these vessels. We do contend, however, that an emergency exists in the intercoastal and in the coastal trades, and it has been lately pointed out to me that, perhaps, one exists in the trade between New England ports and the Bay of Fundy, due to the fact that the English have immobilized or interned Norwegian ships that have been carriers of pulp from that territory.
In view of this emergency condition, which has been growing for the last 2 or 3 months particularly, I introduced this resolution, and in turn your chairman submitted it to the Maritime Commission, which has rendered a report favoring the purposes of the resolution in general and suggesting that certain additional provisions be incorporated in the resolution. These provisions are entirely satisfactory to me, as far as I know, and the proponents of the measure to release these ships.
The additional provisions give the Maritime Commission the power to insert in any sale or charter contract the terms which will regulate the further disposition of any vessel sold or chartered, and which can limit the time of chartering, as far as that is concerned. Consequently, Mr. Chairman, in order to incorporate these suggested changes I have introduced a new resolution, House Joint Resolution No. 519, which I ask be considered this morning in lieu of the original resolution.
The CHAIRMAN. It is being considered.
Mr. Buck. I want to call your attention to the fact very briefly that on September 1, 1939, there were in the Atlantic-Pacific intercoastal general cargo trade, and this does not include tankers, I may say, 135 ships of a deadweight tonnage of 1,337,353 tons. On April 8, 1940, there were only 86 of these ships left in this trade, with a deadweight tonnage of 881,359 tons, a loss to the trade of 49 ships, and a decrease in percentage of 36.3 percent, and a loss in tonnage of 455,994 tons, or a decrease of 34 percent in tonnage. Now, it is quite obvious that the general cargo trade, which is usually a westeast movement, as far as that is concerned, has been seriously hampered and impaired by the loss of that tonnage. It seems to us obvious that there will probably be, also, a further decrease in tonnage unless something is done to assist this movement. At the moment there appear to be no other means of replacing this tonnage than by utilizing this sterilized fleet. We feel that this matter is of sufficient importance to merit your earnest and immediate consideration.
Mr. Chairman, that is all I have to say. I desire to present a number of witnesses here this morning, and no doubt there are others who will appear on their own behalf. If there are any questions, I should be glad to answer them.
The CHAIRMAN. Are there any questions?
Mr. Buck. I should like to add that this resolution has been endorsed unanimously by the delegations of the three Pacific Coast States in the House.
Mr. WELCH. The principle was endorsed ?
Mr. WELCH. I desire to state that the resolution now under consideration, which is House Joint Resolution 519, is a vast improvement over the prior resolution, 509, in this respect, that it is more specific. I refer to the language commencing on page 2, line 5 (reading]: be sold or chartered by the Commission, upon competitive bids and after due advertisement, upon such terms and conditions (including with respect to charters the charter period) and subject to such restrictions (including restrictions affecting the use or disposition of the vessel by the purchaser or charterer). That question was raised by me at the conference of the west Coast representatives referred to by Congressman Buck, that care should be exercised to see to it that the resale of laid-up ships to people who might acquire them for speculative purposes, was brought about by
REMOVAL OF RESTRICTION ON
USE OF LAID-UP FLEET
JOINT RESOLUTION AMENDING SECTION 510 (g)
OF MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936
COMMITTEE ON MERCHANT MARINE AND FISHERIES
SCHUYLER OTIS BLAND, Virginia, Chairman ROBERT RAMSPECK, Georgia
RICHARD J. WELCH, California AMBROSE J. KENNEDY, Maryland
FRANCIS D. CULKIN, New York MON C. WALLGREN, Washington
GEORGE N. SEGER, New Jersey JOSEPH J. MANSFIELD, Texas
J. C. OLIVER, Maine LINDSAY C. WARREN, North Carolina JOSEPH J. O'BRIEN, New York EUGENE B. CROWE, Indiana
HARRY SANDAGER, Rhode Island EDWARD J. HART, New Jersey
FRED BRADLEY, Michigan
ANTHONY J. DIMOND, Alaska J. HARDIN PETERSON, Florida
SAMUEL W. KING, Hawaii
JAMES W. GULICK, Clerk