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Mr. SPINGARN. Well, I could not give you an off-hand answer, but I have seen estimates that about 350 civil service examiners will be required under section 11 throughout the Government, and I could only say it would affect a very large number of agencies. It will affect other branches of the Treasury. Our Alcohol Tax Unit, for example.
Mr. Gorski. May I ask a question.
Mr. GORSKI. Is there objection to replacing these men who may drop out with civil service routine?
Mr. SPINGARN. That is quite true. We think the recruitment of civil service examiners is going to be a very large task, unless Coast Guard officers will resign their commissions to become examiners, which is not very likely.
Mr. KEATING. Is there not something to be said for the point if in a particular port city a civil service examiner were conducting these hearings, he would also conduct hearings unrelated to the Coast Guard?
Mr. SPINGARN. That is not the way it is contemplated to handle these type of hearings, Mr. Keating. The point is in order to conduct this type of hearing he has to be an expert.
Mr. GRATIAM. That is what was in my mind.
Mr. SPINGARN. He has to know the customs and mores of the sea. He would not necessarily, in fact it is quite unlikely he would, be qualified to take a Securities and Exchange Commission case, or something that involved knowledge of a highly technical and totally different field, and my information is they expect to set up examiners with highly specialized knowledge.
Mr. KEATING. If they are to set up as many as 29 for the Coast Guard; how many are there in all?
Mr. SPINGARN. Originally 43.
Mr. KEATING. I mean under this Administrative Procedure Act. I understood you to have given us an estimate of the number of examiners.
Mr. SPINGARN. Forty-three.
Mr. SPINGARN. Three hundred fifty was the over-all estimate. That is my understanding.
Mr. KEATING. How many agencies are there?
Mr. SPINGARN. All I can say there must be at least 25 or 30 agencies. I am just guessing.
Mr. KEATING. I should say that was my understanding.
Mr. KEATING. I am wondering if they are planning on finding as many as 29 for the Coast Guard.
Mr. SPINGARN. As of this moment, of course the plans for the Coast Guard civil service examiners are in abeyance and the Civil Service Commission has told us they are not going to consider the matter one way or the other until Congress acts. If we do get the examiners we will have to get the money and if we get neither we cannot hold the hearings.
Mr. GORSKI. If this bill is passed you do not have to get another appropriation ?
Mr. SPINGARN. No, sir.
Mr. GRAHAM. Your total case load is about 19,000, and you have 5,000 appealed.
Mr. SPINGARN. About 18,000 or 19,000 investigations of which about 5,000 go to hearing. I should say Captain Richmond just before the hearing gave me figures showing there were 3,762 hearings from March 1946, through February 1947, but there was a 3-month strike period, so you could only say that was three-quarters of a year.
Mr. GRAHAM. May I interrupt a moment. It is perfectly evident we can not finish this hearing this morning. There are two important bills on the floor this afternoon. Just to know where we stand, I would like to get your ideas about the next meeting.
Captain Ash, representing the National Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots, says he cannot very well be back. I wonder if you would mind an interruption in order to hear Captain Ash.
Mr. SPINGARN. We have a few minutes more of testimony, which we can resume at the next session.
Mr. GRAHAM. Thank you. Come around, Captain Ash.
STATEMENT OF CAPT. WILLIAM C. ASH, NATIONAL VICE PRESI
DENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF MASTERS, MATES, AND PILOTS OF AMERICA
Captain Ash. I represent the National Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots of America. We have possibly 12,000 licensed officers, including masters in our organization. Approximately 75 percent of these men are off-shore. We differentiate between inland licenses and those of limited tonnage and limited scope of navigation. Off-shore are unlimited as to tonnage and any ocean. I shall quickly read my statement and amplify it with several remarks. No
group is more desirous than the Masters, Mates, and Pilots of America that the merchant marine of the United States should be the best in the world. This fact is the reason for making an appearance and statement at this hearing.
A full understanding of the spirit of my remarks requires a brief enumeration of the factors underlying the very existence of the merchant marine.
The merchant marine is a civilian organization. Merchant seamen are sailors who work aboard merchantmen. And the term “merchantmen" means vessels used in commerce or trade or business to ply the seas for the purpose of exchanging commodities between peoples.
The men aboard these vessels are civilians exercising their constitutional right to earn their livelihood and this right is a property right within the protection of due process.
This civilian occupation existed long before we became a separate nation and is one of the civilian callings of which it is correct to say our founders were mindful when they spoke of men's right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
World War II had its effect upon the merchant marine as it did in the case of almost every other enterprise. The particular phase with which we are concerned here is the transfer of jurisdiction over the merchant marine from the Department of Commerce to the United States Coast Guard. This was accomplished under the guise of a temporary wartime measure. Naturally, the merchant mariners did not object and I would say in all cases were in favor of subordinating many of their civilian rights and liberties to the perusal and discipline of a military organization in order to accomplish victory. And it cannot be disputed that the Coast Guard constitutes a part of the military forces of the United States operating under the Treasury Department in peacetime and as part of the Navy in wartime, so that the net effect of the temporary assumption of authority by the Coast Guard over the merchant marine, was simply the subordinating of the merchant marine to naval orders during hostilities-a perfectly intelligent, proper, and constitutional step.
But like other historical events, the war came to a close and it was rightful to expect that the Coast Guard would return to operation under the Treasury Department and that the merchant marine would revert to its proper place in the order of things—the Bureau of Merchant Marine Inspection and Navigation of the United States Department of Commerce. The Coast Guard did become disengaged from the United States Navy and again is operating under its constitutional authority, the Treasury Department. But there, the return of occupations to their normal sphere stopped. Because of some slip-up or skullduggery, the merchant marine was not replaced under its proper authority, the Department of Commerce, where it had operated successfully for many years. Exactly what occurred, I do not know, but it is my understanding that the United States Coast Guard, which replaced the revenue cutter service and the life saving service and which constitutes a branch of the land and naval forces of the United States at all times, did not number among its prewar personnel of some 15,000, even one rear admiral. The commandant, I believe, was ranked a captain. After the war got into full swing, or should I say more correctly, after the Coast Guard "rank" got into the swing, the service rated at least one full admiral, not to mention a number of admirals of junior rank.
An explanation of the possible question, “What does this sudden number of high ranking officers signify?" It might be stated that the significance is that-aside from the prestige and remunerationthere must be a greater personnel, numerically speaking, in order to prevent the Coast Guard from becoming what is known as top-heavy. Of course, more personnel means that more outlets must be found to justify the expanded personnel. In short, the top men of the Coast Guard, far from frowning upon taking jurisdiction over the merchant marine, welcome the opportunities presented thereby.
Nonetheless, let us consider how the Coast Guard operates in its jurisdiction over the merchant marine. The Coast Guard is a military organization, a branch of the Armed Forces of the United States. Its very fiber is military. It is organized and it is operated in a military fashion which alone should disqualify it as the agency to act as overseer of a civilian industry such as the merchant marine. Professional military men's outlook differs from the attitude of civilians. The letter and spirit of the Constitution of the United States recognizes this is one respect in that the Chief Executive is the President, a civilian; again it is recognized by the letter and spirit of the Constitution in that the military is subordinate to the Congress of the United States, a civilian body.
In their military style, the Coast Guard has set up hearing units, among whose functions is the disciplining of merchant seamen for infractions which they commit while acting under the authority of their seamen's certificates, licenses, or other maritime documents. The rules of evidence applicable at hearings are expressly directed to follow naval courts martial. An entry in a log book of and by itself is presumptive evidence of the facts it sets forth. In other words, an accused can be and often is convicted and his right to earn a living is suspended or revoked upon no greater evidence against him than some writing on a piece of paper made by a ship's master never present before the Coast Guard officer who reads, hears, and determines the matter. And this can occur even where the accused testifies in person and is supported by witnesses, since in such circumstances credibility is paramount.
Another phase of the present Coast Guard jurisdiction that smacks of an anomaly is double jeopardy. Under the maritime law, the master of a vessel may discipline members of the crew for infractions of the law by way of fine and otherwise. In addition to this punishment, the merchantman is subject to hearing and further punishment by way of suspension or revocation in effect a further fine) by the Coast Guard.
While the Coast Guard controls the merchant marine, nothing but strife and rancor can be looked for among the personnel of our vessels. The officers and men are called upon, in circumstances repugnant to their ideals and sense of justice, to appear before a military body in a military court martial atmosphere for the purpose of determining whether or not a seaman should continue to have the inalienable right to earn a living.
Every seaman is mindful of the maritime law and the criminal law of the United States applicable to his occupation and rebels at the idea of being prosecuted and tried by a military organization.
In closing, may it be said that the Coast Guard should be returned to its rightful and commendable duties of life saving during peacetime and of Navy operation during wartime. The merchant marine, a commercial enterprise, should be returned under the Department of Commerce where it rightfully belongs and which by its set-up and personnel, is fitted to control merchantment intelligently, fairly, and in keeping with the intent and spirit of the Constitution of the United States.
Now, gentlemen, I would further like to amplify that statement with a few other comments.
There is no other counterpart where a maritime organization has jurisdiction, not even in atomic control or research. I do not know of another man that has done a more outstanding job during the war than Rear Admiral Emory Land. Admiral Land, at a meeting of the Propeller Club in 1945 stated, and I think I can quote verbatim: "I see my good friend Admiral in the audience, and I know he isn't going to like what I am going to say, but I think it is about time the Coast Guard got out of the merchant marine."
Let me point out how these hearings boards are constructed. Prior to the war the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation was open to the best men of the industry. By that, I mean under the civil service rules before a man could become an inspector he had to prove himself by being at sea on a merchant ship and he must have had a license for 1 year, or to be an inspector of hulls, he had to be a master for 1 year, or sailed at least 1 year as chief mate. These men were brought up in the industry. Their whole life was in the industry. They know the industry. They know the men who are competent. Since the advent of the Coast Guard that is becoming less and less apparent with the result that we can see in a very short while the affairs of the merchant marine being conducted entirely by men who themselves have never sailed a day in their lives on board a merchant ship.
I have had the extreme displeasure of appearing before some of these hearing units. You find the presiding judge is also the jury. Sure the man has the right of appeal. There are so many appeals the Commandant is so bogged down with work that decisions are months getting back. Why are those appeals? Because of the rancor that exists between the Coast Guard and the merchant marine. There is no merchantman that objects to anybody reviewing his record. I want to reiterate no one is more interested in maintaining discipline than the Masters, Mates, and Pilots. We do not stand for any drunkenness or inefficiency.
During the war the Coast Guard were intrusted with conducting examinations and issuing licenses, and although the training was not thorough, it must be said to their credit they did an outstanding job. I am not ready to say our organization is not ready to say because a man has a license he is competent any more than you gentlemen who are members of the bar, to say every member of the bar is competent. But because the Coast Guard issued those licenses they are placed in the position of, if they declare a man incompetent, who gave him the license in the first place? I would say under these conditions they cannot possibly be impartial. That is how these boards are constructed.
I say this, in any group of officers, if a master is involved in a dispute with the chief mate, anyone would give the master the benefit of the doubt, and the chief mate with the second mate, and second mate with the third mate, and on down, officers and crew, which immediately puts the officers against the unlicensed personnel.
If an officer does not like the way they are conducting themselves he says "I will have you brought before the Coast Guard," and the Coast Guard is being made the whipping boy. We do not think they belong in that picture. If they were out of the picture many conditions would disappear. I would say the worst elements would disappear. During the war they were hastily trained. It was just something to do. We had hundreds of boys 16 to 18 years of being too young for military service, come into the Merchant Marine. Because of their extreme vouth and inexperience they are liable to go ashore and run a foul of the law. I cannot say we are not going to continue it, but I think we can handle it more effectively with the log book, with the penalties we may impose and furthermore with a better cooperation with the unlicensed personnel unions.
The cooperation between the oflicers' union and the unlicensed union is becoming better and better. I attended a meeting of one of the unlicensed unions less than a week ago and I noticed with a great deal of pleasure that charges had been preferred against various individuals in different ports and recommended that they be put in the "social register” for 99 years, the "social register" being a joking term.