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TO DEVELOP AN AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE
PART I. MERCHANT MARINE POLICY
TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 1935
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. The committee met at 10 a. m., Hon. Schuyler 0. Bland (chairman) presiding.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen, the purpose of the hearing this morning is to secure information which will be necessary later in considering merchant marine legislation which in all probability will be introduced.
I have attended several of the interdepartmental committee hearings and there is also a lot of information that comes in as to the general character of the merchant marine, and different suggestions as to the needs, so that really the matter directed at a particular bill is comparatively limited in scope. In order to secure as much expedition of time as possible, we are going ahead with these hearings before introducing any bill, in order to obtain the benefit of such suggestions as may come out and, in addition to that, to find out just what may be in the minds of those who held the interdepartmental hearings and who have suggested changes.
A bill is being prepared and will be considered, although necessarily the time for its consideration must be limited; for, under the provisions of the Independent Offices Appropriations Act of 1934, approved June 16, 1933, the time within which the President is authorized, in his discretion, to modify or cancel ocean mail contracts expires on April 30, 1935, and this matter is dumped into our laps right here at the very last minute and we are going to try to get more information than the message or the reports give us, in order to frame a policy. It is desired that legislation shall be on the statute books by that time, if possible.
The President's message and accompanying papers have been available for only about 15 days, really less than that time has expired since the printing of the message but the views of the President, and the Post Office Department and the Interdepartmental Committee are known, and this should enable interested parties, as well as Government officials to express such views as they may have formed, and those may be helpful to the committee.
I have submitted a questionnaire to the Post Office and Commerce Departments and the answers may help to show the present status of the American Merchant Marine.
The answers of the Post Department to this questionnaire are as
follows: QUESTIONNAIRE SUBMITTED BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE COMMITTEE ON MERCHANT
MARINE AND FISHERIES TO THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE AND THE Post OFFICE DEPARTMENT
1. What are the number and gross tonnage of documented vessels of the United States? 2. What sizes of vessels are included in the documented tonnage? 3. How many officers and seamen are required to navigate these vessels? 4. Of the documented vessels, how many are registered, enrolled, and licensed? 5. How do these figures compare with those of 1914?
6. Of the documented vessels of the United States today, how many are ocean going sizes of 2,000 gross tons and upward?
7. Can you segregate the ocean-going tonnage under the American flag as to its employment?
8. Of the ocean going vessels registered for the foreign trade, how many are certified for operation on ocean-mail routes?
9. How much ocean mail pay did these ships receive for, say, the fiscal year 1934?
10. How much of the tonnage receiving mail pay was purchased from the United States Government?
11. What was the purchase price of this tonnage?
14. How much of the tonnage receiving mail pay was built under the construction loan provisions of the 1928 act and what was the cost of these vessels?
15. What percentage of the tonnage certified to operate on ocean mail routes is over 10 years old?
16. What are the ages of vessels purchased from the United States Government which are certified for operation on ocean mail routes?
17. Are these vessels as economical to operate as those built during the last ten years?
18. Do you know the fuel consumption of the Leviathan as compared with the Bremen and other large modern trans-Atlantic liners?
19. Do you know what the volume of ship tonnage is in the world today? 20. How does this compare with the year 1914-before the outbreak of the World War? Can you define the tonnage in existence at the present time as to the types of vessels this tonnage includes?
21. Can you segregate this tonnage further to show what comprises oceangoing vessels of the larger sizes?
22. Have you any idea what part of such ocean-going vessels participate in the international carrying trade?
23. How much of such tonnage is registered under the flags of the six principal maritime countries?
24. How does the United States rank in tonnage among these six countries?
25. How does the United States rank in tonnage of vessels with speed of 12 knots and upward?
26. How does the United States rank in tonnage of vessels 10 years of age or less?
27. What percentage of the water-borne foreign trade of the United States was carried in American ships during the past year?
28. What percentage of this trade was carried in American ships during the past 10 years? (Value.)
29. How does this compare with the decade preceding the World War?
30. When we speak of the percentage of the commerce carried in American ships, does this include every kind of cargo and does it include traffic on the Great Lakes?
31. Can you give figures showing the percentage of our foreign trade carried in American ships segregated to distinguish between the Lakes and ocean traffic?
32. Can you segregate this further to separate that carried by tankers from that transported by cargo vessels and passenger vessels?
33. What was the size of our merchant marine operating in regular services in 1914?
34. What is the size of our merchant marine operating in regular services today?
35. What percentage of the American foreign trade was carried in American vessels in the nearby and overseas trades, say, for the last dozen years?
36. How did this compare with the percentage carried by British ships in this trade?
37. What percentage of the total foreign passenger traffic was carried by American ships?
38. What percentage of the trans-Atlantic passenger traffic was carried by American ships for the same period?
39. What is the largest American-built ship operated in the trans-Atlantic trade?
40. Are these ships economical to operate and do they get a fair share of the trade?
41. How do the Manhattan and Washington compare in size with foreign ships in the trans-Atlantic services?
42. How many vessels in excess of 25,000 gross tons have been built by foreign countries during the last 8 years?
13. Was there a demand for ships following the World War?
14. In what year following the World War did ocean freight rates begin to slump?
45. Did the war-time shipbuilding program of the United States Government continue after the signing of the armistice?
46. Were any of the war-time shipbuilding contracts canceled after the armnistice?
47. How many keels were laid during the years 1918 to 1921 for Government account?
48. How many ships were built from 1922 to 1928 in American yards for service in the overseas foreign trade?
19. What was the idle steam and motor tonnage of the world in 1922? 50. How much has the steam and motor tonnage of the world increased since 1922?
51. Did the steam and motor tonnage of the United States show an increase or decrease during this period?
52. Did the volume of world trade justify any increase in ship tonnage during this period?
53. What is the world tonnage of ocean-going tankers? 54. Which are the principal tanker owning countries? 55. How do these countries rank?
56. What percentage of the tanker tonnage 10 years of age or less does each country own?
57. How does the United States compare with Great Britain and Norway in tankers with speeds of 12 knots and upward?
58. It frequently has been stated by foreign critics that the United States is largely to blame for the excess ship tonnage in the world today. Is there any truth in this statement?
59. From the standpoint of value of the water-borne foreign trade of the United States compared with the rest of the world, do you consider that the American merchant marine of today competing in the international carrying trade is excessive in size?
Post OFFICE DEPARTMENT'S ANSWER TO QUESTIONNAIRE
OFFICE OF PostMASTER GENERAL,
Washington, D. C., March 18, 1935. Hon. S. O. BLAND, Chairman Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. BLAND: I am in receipt of your letter dated March 14, 1935, advising me that your committee would hear witnesses on the subject of the President's subsidy message, inquiry into merchant-marine matters, and receive suggestions as to the legislation necessary to provide a new merchant marine policy, on March 19, 1935, at 10 a. m., and enclosing a questionnaire which you desire answered.
Mr. Karl A. Crowley, the Solicitor for the Post Office Department, will be present as requested by you.
Your questionnaire contains 59 questions. Most of the questions which you ask can best be answered by the Secretary of Commerce. I assume that you have sent a similar questionnaire to that Department. I shall only attempt to answer the questions upon which we have information secured as a result of the investigation and hearings conducted by this Department pursuant to the Executive order of the President dated July 11, 1934.
Your questions are numbered and the following answers are numbered to correspond with the number of the question.
8. There are 282 American-flag vessels certified for operation on ocean mail routes that made one or more voyages during the fiscal year ended June 30, 1934.
9. These ships actually received as ocean mail pay for the fiscal year 1934 the sum of $29,611,481.99.
10. Two hundred and twenty of the ships receiving mail pay were purchased from the United States Government.
11. The purchase price of the vessels was $41,411,665.10. 12. The original cost of the ships was $516,174,249.48.
13. The world market value of the ships at the time they were sold was $64,972,895.
14. There have been constructed, under the construction-loan provisions of the Merchant Marine Act of 1928, 29 vessels which are now in the ocean-mail service and which have a tonnage of 226,218 tons. There are two other vessels that were constructed under that act that were not in the ocean-mail service. The cost of the vessels that were constructed was $137,642,789.86. The Shipping Board loaned the greater part of the above amount to the contractors at interest rates ranging from one-eighth of 1 percent to 342 percent, but as you have made no request for detailed information as to the amount of these loans, repayments that have been made, the actual investment of the companies and the total amount of mail pay, I assume that you already have or do not desire this information.
15. In this question you ask what percentage of the tonnage certified to operate on the routes is more than 10 years old. This Department has secured from the Department of Commerce a statement of the number of all passenger, combination, and cargo vessels of 2,000 gross tons and over under the American flag as at June 30, 1934. This information is not secured as to mail contract vessels alone.
There have been built in the United States about 9 cargo vessels of a gross registered tonnage of 53,000 tons within the last 10 years. There have been built 53 passenger combination vessels in the United States during that time with a gross registered tonnage of 515,000 tons. Twenty-nine of these vessels, with a tonnage of 226,218 tons, have been constructed under the ocean-mail contracts.
16. The vessels purchased from the United States Government certified for operation under the mail contracts are practically all of them vessels that were constructed during the war or immediately thereafter. There are, however, many much older vessels certified to operate on the mail contracts that were built before the war. I am sure that the Secretary of Commerce can give you the details of this.
23–26. This information was secured by the Department at the time the hearings were held on the ocean-mail contracts and is shown on the table attached hereto marked “Exhibit A." Very truly yours,
W. W. Howes, Acting Postmaster General.