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This organization, composed exclusively of active shipmasters of vessels of United States registry, has a membership consisting of 100 percent of the masters serving with the United States Lines, Bull Lines, and American South African Lines, has a substantial interest in this legislation as the matter relates to the personnel who would have authority to impose suspensions and revocations of our licenses as masters.
It is our considered opinion that the enactment of H. R. 2966 would be in the best interests of the members of this organization and of the United States merchant marine. Your favorable consideration is recommended. Yours truly,
JOHN IRWIN DUGAN,
General Counsel. [Telegram]
NEW YORK 6, N. Y., May 6, 1947. CHAIRMAN GRAHAM, House Judiciary Committee,
House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.: Whereas the provisions of the Administrative Procedure Act now require that a civilian examiner preside at hearings on marine disasters, casualties, and questions relating to revocation or suspension of merchant marine licenses or certificates, and
Whereas H. R. 2966, bill now before Congress, would provide that such hearings be conducted by one or more commissioned officers of the Coast Guard, and
Whereas it is deemed desirable that such proceedings be conducted and are now being so conducted by the Bureau of Marine Inspection and navigation of the Coast Guard whose members are experienced in and familiar with the requirements of the American merchant marine,
Resolved, That the Robert L. Hague Merchant Marine Industries Post No. 1242, of the American Legion, composed of trained and experienced members of the marine industry, many of whom are licensed officers, favors enactment of H. R. 2966 and respectfully urges the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives to report favorably on said bill, and it is further
Resolved, That the adjutant of the post is hereby directed to transmit a copy of this resolution to the chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives.
ROBERT L. HAGUE, Merchant Marine Industries Post 1242, American Legion, Department of New York.
By WILLIAM SCHWARTZ,
Adjutant, 136 Liberty Street, New York 6, N. Y. Mr. GRAHAM. Mr. Walter, would you care to comment upon those two communications?
Mr. WALTER. I will venture the guess that they were inspired by the people that want this bill enacted.
Mr. GRAHAM. Any questions? (No response.) Thank you, Mr. Walter.
Mr. WALTER. I thank you, gentlemen.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN W. GWYNNE, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF IOWA
Mr. GWYNNE. Mr. Chairman, as you probably know, I have been interested in this Administrative Procedure Act for some time. I happened to be a member of the subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary which considered the original bill on the subject, known as the Walter-Logan bill.
Incidentally, I would like to say, too, that I do not think there is a man in this country who worked harder or who did more in getting legislation of this character on the statute books than our colleague, Mr. Walter.
Mr. GRAHAM. I would like to agree heartily with that in every way.
Mr. GWYNNE. Following that original bill, of course, we had the bill of last year which finally was passed and which was signed by the President and became the Administrative Procedure Act. The law was hailed by the bar and by thinking people generally as a great step forward, as a great step along the road that we must travel—the road that leads back from a government of men to a government of laws.
As Mr. Walter has pointed out, during this time that the bill was before the Congress, many bureaus and agencies of the Government were very much opposed to it, and they have never accepted it kindly. I am not surprised at the attempt now being made, and I predict further attempts will be made, to whittle down the act.
Mr. KEATING. In that connection, I think that another bill is before
Mr. GWYNNE. I would suggest, Mr. Chairman, that before this is done, we certainly should give this matter great consideration. I would not like to see, on account of the tremendous struggle that was had to get this act on the books, any whittling done on its provisions.
Mr. GRAHAM. Thank you. Any questions? (No response.)
CONDUCT OF DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS OF COAST
GUARD COMMISSIONED OFFICERS
FRIDAY, MARCH 5, 1948
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
SUBCOMMITTEE No. 3,
Washington, D.C. The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10 a. m., in room 327, Old House Office Building, Hon. Louis E. Graham (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. GRAHAM. The committee will please come to order.
We have under consideration S. 1077, an act to amend section 4450 of the revised statutes of the United States, as amended by the act of July 29, 1937, and for other purposes.
Mr. GRAHAM. There are several who wish to be heard on this bill. The Chair will recognize Mr. Latham, from New York.
STATEMENT OF HON. HENRY J. LATHAM, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF NEW YORK Mr. LATHAM. Mr. Chairman, my name is Henry J. Latham, Member of Congress from the Third District of New York.
I am especially interested in this matter, Mr. Chairman, because I am a member of the House Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries and because there is a question of public safety involved, I think, in the passage of this bill.
I would like to break down my remarks and divide them into three categories:
1. What is the situation today with respect to this problem?
This matter came to my attention originally because of an editorial which appeared in the New York Herald-Tribune on December 11, 1947. The title of this editorial is “Shipboard Discipline" and the best way I know to present this problem is to read this very brief editorial.
Mr. GRAHAM. All right. Mr. LATHAM (reading :). Ship discipline is one of those indispensables without which no merchant marine can survive. So the charge that in American ships it has fallen to its lowest point in maritime history deserves comment, to put it mildly. Our merchant seamen are treated and protected more generously than any other. At the moment our merchant fleet dominates the seas. Imagine, then, a situation in which the men who man our ships are free of the restraints associated with their responsibilities. Yet that appears to be the case, due to a provision of the administrative procedures act effective last summer. This law, wise in its general intent, deprived administrative agencies of their power to try and penalize offenders against bureaucratic rules. But in doing so it made the Bureau of Marine Inspection of the Coast Guard, previously able to punish seamen and ships' officers for shipboard offenses, little more than an investigating agency. The result is that insubordination of various degrees has escaped correction and penalty.
This country is a maritime nation, has been since our forefathers peopled it. Americans are familiar with the basic necessity for shipboard discipline. Its lack today in American ships must be remedied promptly_if our merchant marine is to remain in the running. Which means that the Bureau of Marine Inspection should have restored to it the authority it enjoyed before the law was passed to which we have had reference. An amendment for the purpose has passed the Senate and is pending in the House. Let the House act-and favorably.
I think it is very clear when the Administrative Procedures Act was passed, it did not include these officers of the Coast Guard who were holding these hearings in disciplinary proceedings. As a matter of fact section 7 (a) of that bill specifically exempted hearings where they were specifically authorized by statute.
Now in R. S. 4450, under which the Coast Guard was holding these hearings since 1942, and had held over 30,000 hearings, it was set forth in the law that hearings were to be held by supervisors and inspectors and so forth.
Mr. GRAHAM. Yes.
Mr. LATHAM. So that it is very clear that the intent was when the Administrative Procedures Act was passed and the law passed, that the Coast Guard should continue to hold these hearings.
Now what happened after that? A month after June 11, 1947, when the Administrative Procedures Act became effective, the President's Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1946 became law and by an unintentional quirk in that law it wiped out the original exemption in the Administrative Procedures Act, because that wiped out the particular statutory positions of supervisory inspectors which gave the Coast Guard that authority. When that went through there was no talk about this particular thing and the Attorney General thereafter ruled since those statutory offices were wiped out and that came under the Administrative Procedures Act the Coast Guard could no longer hold those hearings.
I think this is a serious matter. We have skippers of ships sailing them who are incompetent to sail them. I have seen records of many offenses, three or four cases pending, involving death, and no power to take away tickets of those incapable men, and something, I respectfully suggest, has got to be done.
I would say, when the Administrative Procedures Act became law the Coast Guard still had authority under the law to hold these hearings and it wasn't really the administrative procedures Act that caused the trouble, but it was Reorganization Plan No. 3. That was unfortunate. I know a lot about the Coast Guard, since I was in the Navy myself during the war, and since it has had charge of these hearings and investigations they have handled about 30,000 cases, and out of those 30,000 cases less than 10 percent were appealed and only 4 went to the district courts and none were reversed.
Mr. GRAHAM. Speaking from your own knowledge you are firm in the conviction there isn't anything in the nature of a Star Chamber proceeding at all?