« ПретходнаНастави »
tively, likely to endanger the lives of the passengers or the safety of the vessel, is forbidden.
Chapter VII provides for safety certificates to be issued by each government which is a party to the convention for its own vessels, to be guaranteed by it, and to be recognized as valid by the other nations which are parties to the convention. On this subject there was much debate in the conference. Germany and France have always insisted upon the doctrine that a vessel is part of the territory of the nation to which it belongs and that it is not subject even in the port of another nation to the jurisdiction of the latter. The compromise finally agreed to by all parties is stated in Article 61.
Every vessel holding a safety certificate issued by the officers of the contracting state to which it belongs, or by persons duly authorized by that state, is subject in the ports of the other contracting states to control by officers duly authorized by their governments in so far as this control is directed towards verifying that there is on board a valid safety certificate, and, if necessary, that the conditions of the vessel's seaworthiness correspond substantially with the particulars of that certificate; that is to say, so that the vessel can proceed to sea without danger to the passengers and the crew. This latter article also is criticized severely by the International Seamen's Union of America, but, as we think, with little reason. It is impossible to suppose that all other nations should yield their own judgment in regard to vessels to the autocracy of the United States of America. The very object of this convention is to obtain substantial uniformity. It is in the public interest that this uniformity should exist. The convention has gone in this respect as far as the different nations would agree, and we think it unfortunate that there should be opposition to the adoption of so beneficial a convention which is on the whole a great advance, because of its failure to subject all vessels coming to the ports of the United States to the requirements of the peculiar laws of the latter country.
It is interesting to notice in the regulations appended to the convention the adoption of Greenwich mean time as the time to be used in radio-telegrams; and the adoption of the decimal system of measurement for the expression of the barometer in radio-telegrams. A table is appended giving the equivalent in inches.
In the safety signals provided for, the Morse code of dots and dashes is recognized and adopted. The great patent lawyer, Edward N. Dickerson, always maintained that this Morse code was all that S. F. B. Morse invented and that the rest of his telegraphic apparatus was the adoption of methods which were well known. In this he was hardly just. It is true that he used an electro magnet which Professor Henry had invented, and that the various parts of his apparatus had been used before. The merit of Morse was in putting them together in what was in its time an effective telegraphic instrument, and which was, for practical purposes, the first effective telegraphic instrument. But whether or not we agree with Mr. Dickerson in this respect, it cannot be denied that the Morse alphabet was an invention of great utility. Nothing shows this more clearly than its universal adoption.
In the schedules annexed to the convention detailed requirements are specified for the construction of fire-proof and water-proof bulkheads, for openings in the bulkheads and openings in the vessels sides. All doors in bulkheads are to be opened from the bridge, but must also be operated by hand at the door itself. The side scuttles and cargo ports must "be closed watertight and locked before the vessel leaves port. They shall not be opened during navigation.” Vigilance and accuracy are insured by the requirements of a hose or flooding test for watertight decks and a hose test to watertight trunks. There is to be a drill for the operating of watertight doors, side scuttles, scuppers, ash shoots, etc., before leaving port, and at least once a week during the voyage. “All watertight power doors and hinged doors in main transverse bulkheads in use at sea shall be operated daily.”
Article XXII of these regulations provides that “vessels shall have sufficient power for going astern to secure proper control of the vessel in all circumstances.” This seems an appropriate place to note one defect in the existing collision rules to which attention is not called in this convention. When these rules were originally made twin screws were unknown, and the framers of the revised rules seem to have overlooked the fact that the course of a twin screw vessel may be changed more quickly by putting one engine full speed ahead and the other full speed astern than in any other way. Every person who is accustomed to row without a rudder is familiar with the analogous method of turning a
rowboat. Any person who has sailed through the St. Marys River between Lakes Superior and Huron and watched its narrow and crooked channels, must have noticed how quickly the course of a twin screw steamer can be altered by this simple method. If the captain of the Empress of Ireland had adopted this method when the collision was imminent he would have received the blow from the Storstad near his bow and while both vessels would have been injured, in all probability neither would have sunk. The bow, in short, is the strongest and least vulnerable part of a steamer. The midship section is the weakest.
In like manner it would have been well if the framers of this convention had drawn attention to the latter fact and had recommended an amendment to the collision rules to the effect that the captain of a steamer carrying passengers should especially avoid exposing his broadside to an approaching vessel. The fatal collision between the Ville de Havre and the Loch Earn on November 22, 1873, was caused by a neglect of this precaution. The captain of the French vessel underrated the speed of the approaching ship and thought he could cross her bows with safety. She kept her course, as she had a strict right to do, and the result was that the steamer was struck amidship and quickly sank with the loss of almost all on board, including Judge Rufus W. Peckham of the New York Court of Appeals, the father of the late Mr. Justice Peckham of the United States Supreme Court. On the other hand, in the collision in 1875 between the Harvest Queen and the Adriatic, Captain Jennings of the Adriatic pursued the course which we have just recommended. When he perceived from the lights of the approaching ship that there was danger of collision, he maneuvered so as to present his bow constantly to her and in this way met all her changes of course by a corresponding change on his side. The result was that his vessel received a very trifling injury. The ship sank, but it was held in all the federal courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States, that Captain Jennings was right. If the captain of the Empress of Ireland had observed this precaution he would have saved his precious freight of passengers. No doubt the general requirements of the existing rules are sufficient to cover both precautions. But it would be worth while to have these two special precautions specified. Captains often neglect
: 107 U. S. 512.
the first altogether, and are not as careful as they ought, to observe the second.
Ample provisions are made in Article XL for the equipment of boats and pontoon rafts. It is interesting to notice that each is required to have a vessel containing a gallon of vegetable or animal oil “so constructed that the oil can be easily distributed on the water and so arranged that it can be attached to the sea anchor.” It should be noted that Captain Karlowa of the Hamburg American steamer Palatia, was one of the first practical seamen to call attention to the great advantage of this method of preventing waves from breaking over a floating object. His little book on the subject is an authority.
Each boat or raft must also be furnished with a watertight receptacle containing two pounds weight of food for each person and a watertight receptacle containing one quart of water for each person. There shall also be provided a number of self-igniting "red lights" and a watertight box of matches. The boats are to accommodate seventy-five per cent of the persons on board and the remainder of the accommodation may be in boats or pontoon rafts. The character of life buoys to be furnished is carefully specified. Each “shall be capable of supporting in fresh water for twenty-four hours” fifteen pounds of iron. This shows the safe margin of buoyancy required to float a man, who in another article is estimated at the average weight of 165 pounds. Luminous life buoys are to be provided “in no case less than six.” The lights shall be efficient self-igniting lights which cannot be extinguished in water. "The life buoys shall always be capable of being rapidly cast loose, and shall not be permanently secured in any way."
One other point in reference to this convention deserves notice. There is no requirement that the seamen shall all be Caucasians. The matter of the race of the seamen manning vessels is left to the judgment of each nation. This feature of the convention is also criticized by the Seamen's Union. Their aim is to exclude Orientals. The Lascars of British India, and the Chinese and Japanese make good sailors. Why vessels trading to those countries should not be permitted to employ them is hard to say. The convention does require that all persons in the service of the ships shall be able to understand the orders. This in our opinion goes far enough.
No man is obliged to become a sailor. We are not convinced by the arguments of those who criticize the convention in this respect that the native American of to-day will love the sea as his ancestors did. The experience of school ships and naval colleges where every opportunity is afforded for training in practical seamanship shows the contrary. Our public school system tends to train the young American for vocations on land and consequently to discourage the vocation of a seaman. The opposition on this ground to the ratification of the convention shows a narrow spirit of race prejudice, like the selfish spirit shown by the strike of railroad engineers which took place at one time in Georgia in order to prevent the employment of negroes as firemen, but which failed, owing largely to the eloquence and influence of a gallant old Confederate officer, Major J. B. Cummings of Augusta. This spirit of racial prejudice which seems to make men forget that other individuals have rights and which would exclude the native of British India or China or Japan from earning an honest living on the sea is directly opposed to the spirit of Christianity. St. Paul says, “God has made of one blood all nations of men to dwell upon the face of the earth.” In the Roman theatre the famous sentence of Terence was applauded: Homo sum; nullum humanum a me alienum puto. In our own Declaration of Independence it is declared that all men are “endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." There would seem no good reason for an international agreement which would deprive the honest hardworking people of India, China or Japan of the liberty of following the sea or pursuing happiness by earning a living there.
In this connection, special attention should be paid to another argument contained in the protest against the ratification of the convention. The argument referred to favors the abolition of punishment for desertion and calls the obligation of a seaman to serve out his agreed term of service slavery. How it should be slavery to oblige a man who has voluntarily entered into a contract to keep that contract is hard to understand. No one is obliged to be a sailor, but if he choose to follow that calling he certainly ought to do as other men are required to do and keep his contract. So far from perceiving the justice of this, the proponents of the proposition advocate a contrary rule on the ground that a man