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has boarded a vessel and has gone down in the crew's quarters and wanted to know if any of the crew had any charges against the officer or vice versa, and where they go up in the bridge and ask the officers if they have any charges against the crew. They have found men's records in the logbook showing that they have been absent without leave. They are subpenaed for a hearing and they are advised that they should not go to their union and get defense counsel, that the Coast Guard would provide counsel, and that they would probably get off a whole lot better.
A ship master in the true sense of the word works many years to get his command. He has a responsible position, and it is a hazardous occupation where new situations arise every day. It is a business you learn every day until you die. It is a tragic thing to think that a shipmaster who has been at sea for 20 or 30 years, who has been unfortunate enough to have a grounding or collision or an accident aboard his ship, has to be subjected to interrogation, cross-examination, by one who is at least not equal in experience, such as a lieutenant (junior grade) or an ensign who has a fine legal background but whose total service at sea has been the command of an LST. We had one hearing unit in one of our largest seaports where the officer in charge spent his entire service during the war in command of a large steel desk, who knew nothing about actual life at sea. Another very bad feature of the hearing unit, as set up in the Coast Guard, is that a man has only one right of appeal and then only to the Coast Guard Commandant. He cannot have a review of the facts or evidence. He cannot take it outside to the courts except if there is a question of law involved. According to the testimony of Congressman Latham, there have been only four cases out of 30,000 where men had any background at all to take a case outside in the courts at law. The men just have no chance.
I have sat in myself as witness, as defense counsel, advisor to some of our brothers in the union, who have been on trial. What went on was disgusting. The dignity of the shipmaster has been lowered by the way the Coast Guard conducts the trial, by the questions he is asked, the way he is subjected to these things. The condemnation of one bad shipmaster condemns the entire fraternity. We are very much opposed to it.
Another very, very bad feature, and I think you gentlemen will agree, is one of double jeopardy. Now, we do not like to have aboard our ships an habitual drunk. On the other hand, we do not believe we have any jurisdiction over what they do at shore on their own time. Some of them come aboard with a hang-over, but, then, there are lots of men that come to their offices with a hang-over. There are lots of steamship executives that come to their office with a hang
I know that the majority of steamship companies are very meticulous about the hiring of their personnel.
I see a man who I respect greatly for his long years of service here, Captain Cummins, who is marine superintendent for one of our largest American steamship companies. I discussed a case with him not so long ago involving a very close friend of mine, a shipmaster who had a gromding. That man was taken off a ship; he was put on the beach;
he was well disciplined. The company will not discharge him. They will punish him severely enough to make him realize that he will not have such an accident again, and he will not be responsible for such inefficiency. I am sure that they will have the loyalty and services of a very good man because of that treatment. By the same token, I subscribe that all other steamship companies are interested in building up responsible reliable personnel. They do not have to go to the street corners and whistle for the fellow who has had a narcotic charge against him.
Now, we have another case. It has been my pleasure to observe by the unlicensed unions are doing in an educational program, and by a realistic and practical approach to it, in disciplining their own members.
I can refer you to an editorial in one of the New York newspapers last week referring to one unlicensed union that take pleasure in putting the men who get drunk and miss watches and things like that, in the "social register" for 99 years. By that I mean that they are suspended from membership for 99 years. With the high degree of organization in the maritime industry today, these men will not be able to get employment except, possibly, on a Panamanian vessel or Greek flag vessel, where you will find a far lower degree of responsibility, efficiency and conduct.
The unions take a position that if a man needs disciplining, they should be given the first opportunity to do it, and believe me, I think you will agree, if the union disciplines a man, they will do it far more thoroughly and far more effectively than any other outside organization. They are practical men themselves. They know when a fellow lays in his bunk for two or three watches and the rest of the men on the watch have to do double duty. They do not like it and they are not going to stand for it. They are not going to admonish him or put him on probation for 30 or 60 days. They are going to give him the business.
Now, a few specific cases were brought out. A case of the steamship Manrope Knot was brought out. I lived with that problem from the first day it started. I happened to be with one of the companies we enjoy the very best relations, a very large fleet owner, and with whom we realistically attack any problem that comes up, and try to meet it before it becomes serious. The Manrope Knot happened to be a ship that was lying at anchor in a port of Spain for 17 days because they did not have a berth for it. There was a congestion of shipping. It was a very heavily crowded harbor and the company had no desire to push the ship into a berth.
The crew demanded that the vessel be fumigated. The company agreed that they do not expect their men to live with cockroaches and bedbugs, so they fumigated it. Three or four days later, they found the job of fumigation was ineffective and they fumigated it a second time. Almost a week later, they found the job of disinfection and exterminating had not been thorough. It was done a third time.
Well, the men had a lot of liberty, a lot of time ashore, day after day in a port where the town is wide open. Liquor is very inexpensive, comparatively, for the American dollar, and many of the other things that sailors do in foreign ports. Therefore, there was bound to be some difficulties.
Now, one of the officers in the vessel happened to be an individual with a long Communist background. We take second place to no
organization in America when it comes to fighting the Communist on the waterfront. We will continue to do so and always will. The individual was an officer on this ship who stirred up the crew to support him. Imagine an officer enlisting the support of a crew to have à master removed from the vessel. I can assure you that both the officer involved and the crew involved were well disciplined by the respective unions, ourselves and the unlicensed union. Now, that brings up another point. During the war, I had the privilege, and I consider it as such, of serving in the United States Maritime Service in the training organization. I was executive officer in an officer candidate school. These men were usually licensed by examinations, formulated and conducted by the United States Coast Guard. We did the very best job we possibly could. We were told that the Maritime Commission would have a thousand ships afloat by a certain date and they needed 5,000 officers. There was very good cooperation on both sides. The officers were provided.
Now, as executive officer, I had a little black book in which I ha the name furnished to me, by the other Government agencies, of every seaman who attended the officer candidate school with a Communist or subversive background. There were not many. The reason I had that information is that we could use it, from time to time. If an old-time seaman with a good background of experience was up for disciplining for being overleave for a few hours, he would appear before one of us, usually myself and get a darn good bawling out and warned not to do it again. This was a serious business that they had to study and work hard and get back to sea as a licensed officer. But, if one of the Communists whose name was in my little black book appeared on the same violation, I would say, "Mr. -, you know the law, you know the rules and regulations, you are restricted at the base for 2 months, no liberty.” He quit. Or if he was very circumspect about his conduct, and was not guilty of any infractions or violations, then we carefully screened his scholastic record on the hopes that we could dump him, literally, out of the school because of failure in grades. But, even then many of the known Communists got licenses and became officers. It was a minority, true, but it is the minority that has caused these headaches.
The Coast Guard never did anything about it. They were in better position than we were to nip these people right at the start. To this day they have not done anything about it.
Now, prior to the war, before the Coast Guard was given the functions of the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, trials and hearings involving various degrees of offenses, were conducted by the various boards set up within the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation. They were called A Board, B Board, and C Board. The Coast Guard has claimed that there is a huge backlog of cases. I doubt very seriously whether this huge backlog of cases would come under the heading of the serious offenses that would go to the highest board, known as the C Board. I believe that they would come within the classification of A and B. Some of them, we agree, are serious.
We say it should be administered by civilians within a civilian organization who are not military minded.
When, under the Second War Powers Act, the Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation was turned over to the Navy and, in turn, to the Coast Guard, as a purely important war measure, we were in accord with it. We were perfectly willing to give up our rights as civilians in an effort to aid in our winning of the war. Every other. Federal agency which received, as a part of the war, certain civilian functions, have returned those functions to civilian authority, but today the only one that remains in the picture is the Coast Guard.
Now, we have another serious matter in the Coast Guard in the picture. They must always be cognizant of one important thing. When a man is on trial for inefficiency or for failure to do his job, as his license calls for, the Coast Guard is just as much on trial as the individual, because they issued the license, and I would like to see some organization other than the one who issued the license, because if they feel so inclined, in covering up something, they can very easily do it. Whereas, an outside organization would not have any such interest.
I can recall a few cases—I could submit hundreds of them, but I will point out one—a case involving a shipmaster who had a grounding in a port in Italy. We appeared in his behalf before the Coast Guard hearing unit. He had counsel there and the prosecutor demanded that he take the stand for cross-examination to defend himself. His counsel and the hearing officer said, “You cannot put that man on the stand to testify against himself.” The prosecutor said, “Oh, I am going to get him on the stand. We are going to insist upon it. We have questions to ask him.” The hearing officer said, “You had plenty of time to examine him in the preliminary investigation.” A recess was held. It seems that after lunch, the pressure had been put on this hearing-unit officer who was himself a former merchant marine master and in a very quick, hurried manner, the case was practically closed. So they considered him negligent and suspended his license for 30 days. We hold that such a thing is a travesty upon justice.
The accident to this vessel cost several hundred thousand dollars to repair. It practically tore the bottom out of it. If he was negligent, if we was wrong, in the accident, then a 30-day suspension is a travesty upon justice. It is absolutely not any punishment to fit the bill. On the other hand, if he was innocent, and we contended that he was, then he should be completely exonerated and told to go away. He was then told he had the right of appeal. He discussed it with his wife. The man was very tired from the war. He said, "I need a rest. What is 30 days' suspension? I will take a vacation and it will all be over by the time I get back. The company is not holding anything against me. The company does not say I am at fault. The company is not going to punish me with loss of employment and loss of a job."
But, the Coast Guard will.
As I say, if possible, compare the conduct record of the merchant marine in point of numbers with the conduct record of any other city. Take a seaport city, find out how many felonies they have, how many misdemeanors, how many violations of various types of law, and I think you will find that in comparison the conduct record of the merchant marine is far superior because of the amount of self-discipline.
In the military organizations, they give an order and it is obeyed immediately; it is not questioned. In the merchant marine it might be questioned. So, the question becomes a question of good leadership. You can lead merchant seamen a long ways. You cannot push them an inch. As a merchant seaman, we know that. We were brought up the same way ourselves, and, therefore, good shipmasters, men who are good leaders, have no difficulties aboard their ships. Men who are hastily trained and who are not good leaders have such disciplinary problems. Thank goodness, the bad leaders are being weeded out of the industry.
We have no objection whatever to any authority who will review cases or any authority that will discipline. However, we want it to be strictly a civilian organization, completely out of the jurisdiction of any military organization.
I hold, gentlemen, that the discipline of the merchant marine is not at its lowest ebb, but is improving by leaps and bounds.
Mr. GRAHAM. We will excuse you for the moment and let Mr. Hand, a member of Congress, testify and they we will call you back.
STATEMENT OF HON. T. M. HAND, MEMBER OF CONGRESS FROM
THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY
Mr. HAND. My name is T. M. Hand. I am a member of Congress and a member of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries and Chairman of the subcommittee on Coast Guard. My interest in this subject, of course, arises from the capacity just described.
It seems to me it must be completely clear that there must be some means of promulgating and enforcing proper rules for the discipline at sea. It seems to me equally clear, particularly since
observation of the conduct of the Coast Guard in the discharge of any of their duties, including this one, that the Coast Guard is probably the ideal agency for that purpose. I doubt very much if the Coast Guard necessarily seeks this authority. It is not a question of giving some authority to the Coast Guard that they want. It is a question of doing something which the Nation needs and which the merchant marine, I think, needs. I believe that this whole question can be divided into not more than two parts. No 1: Are these rules necessary and are the rules reasonable and have they been properly. conducted? The second question: Does this proposal deviate or violate the Administrative Procedures Act? I think all of us are zealous to preserve that.
În the first place, I am not going to take your time, nor my own. I have another meeting.
With your leave, I want to leave this brief statement for the record. I do want to call attention, particularly, to this, with respect to the regulaions under which the Coast Guard has been operating.
In the first place, I think it will be shown that they made quite a careful study of this situation and of administrative procedures and the regulations before they commenced their duties.
Now, the regulations, published by the Coast Guard on October 1, 1947, printed in the Federal Register-with your leave, I would like to leave a copy for the record.
(The document referred to follows:) I have heard the opponents of S. 1077 refer to the action of the Coast Guard against the licenses or certificates of merchant marine oflicers and seamen as "star chamber proceedings.” I find this term surprising uuse the procedure