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Mr. KEATING. And before the action of the full Committee on the Judiciary that didn't happen?
Mr. LATHAM. I will say some happened since then.
Mr. KEATING. That is exactly what I was trying to get from the representatives of the Coast Guard.
Mr. LATHAM. They can give you 400 cases.
Mr. LATHAM. Let me give you a few. I won't mention names. Here are a couple I just took at random:
First engineer charged with threatening the chief engineer and assaulting the chief mate and assistant mate. You can't have a situation like that going on in the engineroom of a ship. I know, because I was a skipper of a ship during the war. The man that pulls the switch in the engineroom has in his hands the fate of everybody on the ship.
Mr. KEATING. Let me interrupt.
Mr. KEATING. How is the situation different now from what it would be if civilians conducted the hearings on these cases? Of course I recognize this, that it is absolutely essential that someone hear these cases. There has been no provision made to set up a hearing board since our committee acted and as to the responsibility of that there may be some difference of opinion, but in order that my position may
be clear with you, naturally there must be some hearing body.
Now what I am getting at is what reason is there today for requiring that those hearings be held by officers of the Coast Guard rather than civilians which did not exist when we had this matter up in June ?
Mr. LATHAM. Well, that is a little different question. The question is should the Coast Guard have it or should the civilians have it?
Mr. KEATING. That is right.
Mr. LATHAM. I am of the very firm opinion to take it out of the Coast Guard would be a very serious mistake. In the first place the Coast Guard know ships and the sea. If you let civilians do it you would get a bunch of bright young lawyers fresh out of Harvard law school who would hold hearings. You have an incident in Tokyo. You probably have Coast Guard officers there. They move in quickly and get the facts and dispose of the case. If you do it with civilians it is a case of spending $200,000 to $300,000 more than with the Coast Guard,
Mr. KEATING. Did you hear the testimony regarding the job they had done?
Mr. LATHAM. No; I didn't.
Mr. GRAHAM. When testimony was heard on the other bill one of the things that ran through my mind was the dispersal of witnesses. Would you address yourself to that?
Mr. LATHAM. Yes, suppose something happens in a little seaport in South America, some incident involving seamen on several ships. The ships depart for various destinations. How are you going to get the witnesses unless you do it on the spot? The Coast Guard moves in, the Coast Guard man is there, gets all the facts and decides it and it is done.
Mr. KEATING. As I understand from the gentleman who testified for the Coast Guard, that the Coast Guard is still charged with the investigative duties even now. Would it not be sufficient to have them collect the facts in that capacity without going ahead and conducting a hearing?
Mr. LATHAM. No; I think it is essential to dispose of it there. I don't see how you are going to collect the evidence. Mr. KEATING. I presume they would reduce the evidence to writing.
Mr. LATHAM. You would have no opportunity for cross examination or calling additional witnesses. It is one of those things of a very special nature. It is not like a regular lawsuit. It is a special case and has to do with ships and discipline. You don't have the same discipline in an office building as you do on ships. It is a special case. I think the Coast Guard has done a fair job and an efficient job and should
be given the authority to continue. Mr. HOBBs. Isn't it the same difference exactly between a law court and a court of admiralty?
Mr. LATHAM. Exactly.
Mr. GRAHAM. And this is a fact, admiralty law is different from any other law?
Mr. LATHAM. I recall that it is. I don't remember much of it.
Mr. GRAHAM. At Pittsburgh we have to try a good many cases involving boats under the admiralty law, and I found to my amazement and sorrow I knew next to nothing about it. I made a thorough study and found out how little I knew. I think that is the average lawyer's experience.
Mr. LATHAM. I agree with you, Mr. Chairman. I think it is a very apt illustration of the difference. I think Judge Hobbs made a fine point.
Mr. HOBBS. Wasn't the gentleman in the Coast Guard ? Mr. LATHAM. No; I was in the Navy. Mr. GRAHAM. How long? Mr. LATHAM. 3 years. Mr. GRAHAM. What was your rank? Mr. LATHAM. Lieutenant. Mr. GRAHAM. Do any other members wish to question Mr. Latham? Mr. KEATING. No. I would like to compliment him. Mr. GRAHAM. Does this conclude your testimony? Mr. LATHAM. Yes; but I will come back on next Wednesday. Mr. GRAHAM. Then, we will just adjourn over until 10:30 next Wednesday morning.
(Whereupon, at 11:10 a. m., the subcommittee adjourned until 10:30 a. m., Wednesday, March 10, 1948.)
CONDUCT OF DISCIPLINARY HEARINGS BY COAST
GUARD COMMISSIONED OFFICERS
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 10, 1948
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, D. C. Th esubcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 10:30 a. m.,
in room 327, Old House Office Building, Hon. Louis E. Graham (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
Mr. GRAHAM. The committee will come to order.
Mr. GRAHAM. Our first witness this morning will be Mr. Buck, Congressman from New York. STATEMENT OF HON. ELLSWORTH B. BUCK, A CONGRESSMAN FROM
THE STATE OF NEW YORK
Mr. Buck. Mr. Chairman, my name is Ellsworth B. Buck. I represent the Sixteenth District of New York.
I wish to thank you and the committee for this opportunity to offer my testimony here this morning.
Three circumstances motivate my appearance in connection with the dangerous situation currently existing as to merchant marine personnel.
First, last summer and fall, I traveled to and from Europe on American liner and spent hours discussing with the masters the break-down and discipline on American merchant ships. Second, I am a former member of the Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries and thus, have an abiding interest in the welfare of the American merchant marine.
Third, the district I represent probably embraces a greater concentration of ocean shipping than any district in the Nation. What injures the American merchant marine injures the life blood of my district.
I understand that my able colleague, Mr. Latham has outlined to your committee the legal tangle which has brought about the accumulation of 534 serious cases awaiting action.
With your permission, I wish to cite a few of the more flagrant cases for the record.
Case 2–324158: Apprehended by the Customs while in possession of narcotics, tried in Federal court, sentence suspended and placed on 1 year's probation with recommendation that he not be deported.
Case Z–270895: Charged with physical incompetence resulting from narcotics addiction while serving as beliboy aboard the Steamship Marine Perch, a passenger vessel, he was reported to be under the influence of narcotics and considered a danger to the vessel and crew.
Case of the Steamship Manrope Knot, entire crew refused to shift ship in Port of Spain until vessel was fumigated to their satisfaction. After three fumigations in 7 days, crew changed their complaint to general dissatisfaction with master and refused his orders for 7 more days until they received dispatch from their union, directing them to bring ship back to States where master would be “taken care of." Crew's action delayed vessel 14 days and required premature return of vessel to United States.
Case 2–205845 : Messman and assistant electrician charged with attempted entrance into woman passenger stateroom, possession of firearms, mental incompetency, possession of marihuana, insubordination, continued refusal to work. Attacked and threatened to kill various crew members. Diagnosed by the United States Public Health Service as a dangerous psychopathic who would probably always be in trouble and whom it was dangerous to permit aboard ship.
Z–130398 : Man wanted for assault on crew member with deadly weapon with intent to kill.
The next one is a man charged with intentionally throwing a mess boy overboard while the vessel was underway. Resulted in death of mess boy.
The next case involves the master of the steamship Smith Thompson. He was charged with shooting of seaman during drunken party in the captain's cabin.
The next case involves a man charged with failure to perform duties due to intoxication, refusal to obey lawful orders, sleeping on watch, insubordination, and assault and battery on chief officer.
Mr. Chairman, we are confronted heer with facts and not theories. I suggest that safety at sea of American passengers and crews is of more immediate importance than the safety of the Administrative Procedures Act. I am informed that Senate 1077, which would solve this dangerous situation, has been enacted by the Senate.
May I further suggest that your able and distinguished committee in delaying this measure a single day is assuming a responsibility which I personally would not care to shoulder.
Mr. GRAHAM. Judge Hobbs, any questions?
STATEMENT OF WILLIAM C. ASH, NATIONAL VICE PRESIDENT OF
THE NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF MASTERS, MATES, AND PILOTS OF AMERICA
Mr. Ash. Mr. Chairman and gentlemen of the committee, my name is William C. Ash. I am a master mariner, national vice president of the National Organization of Masters, Mates, and Pilots of America.
Our organization consists of over 15,000 licensed deck officers and I am authorized to speak for them.
I am speaking here in opposition to this bill. I wish to emphatically state first that we have not had the slightest objection, in fact we consider it desirable that an authority of some sort be available at all times to review any cases of inefficiency, break-down of discipline, or any infractions or violations of any of the existing navigation laws of the United States. But we also are very emphatic in saying that a merchant marine is a civilian organization, consisting entirely of civilians and that the Coast Guard is a military organization, consisting entirely of military personnel who are military-minded, who conduct their hearings and cases in the manner boards, and that they are not, therefore, the right personnel to review any cases of inefficiency or any violations.
Now, I have heard it said repeatedly that there are infractions of discipline today more so than ever, that discipline aboard merchant marine ships is at the lowest ebb possible. I deny that emphatically. I would request the committee, through their resources, to get the statistics from any city in the United States, preferably a seaport city of approximately 100,000 people, as in comparison with 100,000 men actually engaged and earning their livelihood at sea, and break down the civilian infractions and violations of the law as in comparison with the merchant marine violations.
I think you would find that the activities of the men in the merchant marine are no better or no worse than any civilians ashore, because they are civilians, and that we have ample civil laws for prosecution of any narcotic addicts, any murderers, anyone who attempts to violate any of our civil laws, because the master is responsible for the administration of all civil laws on the high seas.
Now, we bring up this question of inefficiency. Let us agree that during the war when men were hastily and quickly trained and rapidly licensed, far in excess of the experience called for—we have had cases where during the war we have had ship masters at the age of 22, 23, and so forth. That is something that was never heard of in the normal course of procedure. These men were issued licenses as an expedient and I am very happy and proud to say that they distinguished themselves, when you think of the job they did in merchant ships on the beachheads, the job they did in convoy, in handling their vessels, the courage and the literal guts that they had-it is commendable, and they are a fine bunch of American boys.
Now, there are certain men who were licensed because of experience who received the command because of the shortage of trained personnel. These men are rapidly being weeded out of the industry. Do you think, gentlemen, for one minute, that any steamship master that was guilty of a violation, such as has been described by Congressman Buck, can get another command? Do you think that the steamship company would not report to the bonding company? Every shipmaster is bonded. They would report that this man is a bad risk and the bonding company will not bond him, and, therefore, the company could not possibly employ him.
Do you think any officer can apply for a job with any steamship company without presenting his background and his record that is checked upon, with the result that no company would employ a man who has a bad record. It is not a shortage situation existing where inefficient people are forced on a company.
There is no union, and I say that without qualification, that can force any steamship company to take an officer that is not satisfactory to them. The man is punished in many ways, by loss of employment, and they are being weeded out of the industry very, very rapidly.
Now, a very bad feature of this Coast Guard situation, because of the type of hearings they have conducted, is this: The examiners, the hearing officers, and very frequently, the defense counsel are Coast Guard officers. We can produce positive cases where a boarding officer