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THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT
THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1920
(APPROVED JUNE 5, 1920)
An Act To provide for the promotion and maintenance of the American merchant marine, to repeal certain emergency legislation, and provide for the disposition, regulation, and use of property acquired thereunder, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That it is necessary for the national defense and for the proper growth of its foreign and domestic commerce that the United States shall have a merchant marine of the best equipped and most suitable types of vessels sufficient to carry the greater portion of its commerce and serve as a naval or military auxiliary in time of war or national emergency, ultimately to be owned and ope ated privately by citizens of the United States; and it is hereby declared to be the policy of the United States to do whatever may be necessary to develop and encourage the maintenance of such a merchant marine, and, in so far as may not be inconsistent with the express provisions of this Act, the United States Shipping Board shall, in the disposition of vessels and shipping property as hereinafter provided, in the making of rules and regulations, and in the administration of the shipping laws keep always in view this purpose and object as the primary end to be attained.
Sec. 2. (a) That the following Acts and parts of Acts are hereby repealed, subject to the limitations and exceptions hereinafter, in this Act, provided:
(1) The emergency shipping fund provisions of the Act entitled "An Act making appropriations to supply urgent deficiencies in appropriations for the Military and Naval Establishments on account of war expenses for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1917, and for other purposes," approved June 15, 1917, as amended by the Act entitled "An Act to amend the emergency shipping fund provisions of the Urgent Deficiency Appropriation Act, approved June 15, 1917, so as to empower the President and his designated agents to take over certain transportation systems for the transportation of shipyard and plant employees, and for other purposes," approved April 22, 1918, and as further amended by the Act entitled "An Act making appropriation to supply deficiencies in appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1919, and prior fiscal years, on account of war expenses, and for other purposes," approved November 4, 1918;
(2) Section 3 of such Act of April 22, 1918;
(3) The paragraphs numbered 2 and 3 under the heading "Emergency shipping fund” in such Act of November 4, 1918; and
(4) The Act entitled "An Act to confer on the President power to prescribe charter rates and freight rates and to requisition vessels, and for other purposes," approved July 18, 1918.
(5) Sections 5, 7, and 8, Shipping Act, 1916.
(1) All contracts or agreements lawfully entered into before the passage of this Act under any such Act or part of Act shall be assumed and carried out by the United States Shipping Board, hereinafter called “the board.”
(2) All rights, interests, or remedies accruing or to accrue as a result of any such contract or agreement or of any action taken in pursuance of any such Act or parts of Acts shall be in all respects as valid, and may be exercised and enforced in like manner, subject to the provisions of subdivision (c) of this section, as if this Act had not been passed.
(3) The repeal shall not have the effect of extinguishing any penalty incurred under such Acts or parts of Acts, but such Acts or parts of Acts shall remain in force for the purpose of sustaining a prosecution for enforcement of the penalty therein provided for the violation thereof.
(4) The board shall have full power and authority to complete or conclude any construction work begun in accordance with the provisions of such Acts or parts of Acts, if, in the opinion of the board, the completion or conclusion thereof is for the best interests of the United States.
(c) As soon as practicable after the passage of this Act the board shall adjust, settle, and liquidate all matters arising out of or incident to the exercise by or through the President of any of the powers or duties conferred or imposed upon the President by any such Act or parts of Acts; and for this purpose the board instead of the President, shall have and exercise any of such powers and duties relating to the determination and payment of just compensation: Provided, That any person dissatisfied with any decision of the board shall have the same right to sue the United States as he would have had if the decision had been made by the President of the United States under the Acts hereby repealed.
THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT
Sec. 3. (a) That section 3 of the "Shipping Act, 1916,” is amended to read as follows:
"Sec. 3. That a board is hereby created to be known as the United States Shipping Board and hereinafter referred to as the board. The board shall be composed of seven commissioners, to be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate; and the President shall designate the member to act as chairman of the board, and the board may elect one of its members as vice chairman. Such commissioners shall be appointed as soon as practicable after the enactment of this Act and shall continue in office two for a term of one year, and the remaining five for terms of two, three, four, five, and six years, respectively, from the date of their appointment, the term of each to be designated by the President, but their successors shall be appointed for terms of six years, except that any person chosen to fill a vacancy shall be appointed only for the unexpired term of the commissioner whom he succeeds.
“The commissioners shall be appointed with due regard to their fitness for the efficient discharge of the duties imposed on them by this Act, and two shall be appointed from the States touching the Pacific Ocean, two from the States touching the Atlantic Ocean, one from the States touching the Gulf of Mexico, one from the States touching the Great Lakes and one from the interior, but not more than one shall be appointed from the same State. Not more than four of the commissioners shall be appointed from the same political party. A vacancy in the board shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointments. No commissioner shall take any part in the consideration or decision of any claim or particular controversy in which he has a pecuniary interest.
"Each commissioner shall devote his time to the duties of his office, and shall not be in the employ of or hold any official relation to any common carrier or other persoa subject to this Act, nor while holding such office acquire any stock or bonds thereof or become pecuniarily interested in any such carrier.
“The duties of the board may be so divided that under its supervision the directorship of various activities may be assigned to one or more commissioners. Any commissioner may be removed by the President for inefficiency, neglect of duty, or malfeasance in office. A vacancy in the board shall not impair the right of the remaining members of the board to exercise all its powers. The board shall have an official seal, which shall be judicially noticed.
"The board may adopt rules and regulations in regard to its procedure and the conduct of its business. The board may employ within the limits of appropriations made therefor by Congress such attorneys as it finds necessary for proper legal service to the board in the conduct of its work, or for proper representation of the public interest in investigations made by it or proceedings pending before it whether at the board's own instance or upon complaint, or to appear for or represent the board in any case in court or other tribunal. The board shall have such other rights and perform such other duties not inconsistent with the Merchant Marine Act, 1920, as are conferred by existing law upon the board in existence at the time this section as amended takes effect.
"The commissioners in office at the time this section as amended takes effect shall hold office until all the commissioners provided for in this section as amended are appointed and qualify."
(b) The first sentence of section 4 of the “Shipping Act, 1916,” is an.ended to read as follows: "Sec. 4. That each member of the board shall receive a salary of $12,000 per annum.”
SEC. 4. That all vessels and other property or interests of whatsoever kind, including vessels or property in course of construction or contracted for, acquired by the President through any agencies whatsoever in pursuance of authority conferred by the Acts or parts of Acts repealed by section 2 of this Act, or in pursuance of the joint resolution entitled “Joint resolution authorizing the President to take over for the United States the possession and title of any vessel within its jurisdiction, which at the time of coming therein was owned in whole or in part by any corporation, citizen, or subject of any nation with which the United States may be at war, or was under register of any such nation, and for other purposes," approved May 12, 1917, with the exception of vessels and property the use of which is in the opinion of the President required by any other branch of the Government service of the United States, are hereby transferred to the board: Provided, That all vessels in the military and naval service of the United States, including the vessels assigned to river and harbor work, inland waterways, or vessels for such needs in the course of construction or under contract by the War Department, shall be exempt from the provisions of this Act.
SEC. 5. That in order to accomplish the declared purposes of this Act, and to carry out the policy declared in section 1 hereof, the board is authorized and directed to sell, as soon as practicable, consistent with good business methods and the objects and purposes to be attained by this Act, at public or private competitive sale after appraisement and due advertisement, to persons who are citizens of the United States except as provided in section 6 of this Act, all of the vessels referred to in section 4 of this Act or otherwise acquired by the board. Such sale shall be made at such prices and on such terms and conditions as the board may prescribe, but the completion of the payment of the purchase price and interest shall not be deferred more than fifteen years after the making of the contract of sale. The board in fixing or accepting the sale price of such vessels shall take into consideration the prevailing domestic and foreign market price of, the available supply of, and the demand for vessels, existing freight rates and prospects of their maintenance, the cost of constructing vessels of similar types under prevailing conditions, as well as the cost of the construction or purchase price of the vessels to be sold, and any other facts or conditions that would influence a prudert, solvent business man in the sale of similar vessels or property which he is not forced to sell. All sales made under the authority of this Act shall be subject to the limitations and restrictions of section 9 of the "Shipping Act, 1916," as amended.
THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT
Sec. 6. That the board is authorized and empowered to sell to aliens, at such prices and on such terms and conditions as it may determine, not inconsistent with the provisions of section 5 (except that completion of the payment of the purchase price and interest shall not be deferred more than ten years after the making of the contract of sale), such vessels as it shall, after careful investigation, deem unnecessary to the promotion and maintenance of an efficient American merchant marine; but no such sale shall be made unless the board, after diligent effort, has been unable to sell, in accordance with the terms and conditions of section 5, such vessels to persons citizens of the United States, and has, upon an affirmative vote of not less than five of its members, spread upon the minutes of the board, determined to make such sale; and it shall make as a part of its records a full statement of its reasons for making such sale. Deferred payments of purchase price of vessels under this section shall bear interest at the rate of not less than 542 per centum per annum, payable semiannually.
Sec. 7. That the board is authorized and directed to investigate and determine as promptly as possible after the enactment of this Act and from time to time thereafter what steamship lines should be established and put in operation from ports in the United States or any Territory, District, or possession thereof to such world and domestic markets as in its judgment are desirable for the promotion, development, exparsion, and maintenance of the foreign and coastwise trade of the United States and an adequate postal service, and to determine the type, size, speed, and other requirements of the vessels to be employed upon such lines and the frequency and regularity of their sailings, with a view to furnishing adequate, regular, certain, and permanent service. The board is authorized to sell, and if a satisfactory sale can not be made, to charter such of the vessels referred to in section 4 of this Act or otherwise acquired by the board, as will meet these requirements to responsible persons who are citizens of the United States who agree to establish and maintain such lines upon such terms of payment and other conditions as the board may deem just and necessary to secure and maintain the service desired; and if any such steamship line is deemed desirable and necessary, and if no such citizen can be secured to supply such service by the purchase or charter of vessels on terms satisfactory to the board, the board shall operate vessels on such line until the business is developed so that such vessels may be sold on satisfactory terms and the service maintained, or unless it shall appear within a reasonable time that such line can not be made self-sustaining. The Postmaster General is authorized, notwithstanding the Act entitled “An Act to provide for ocean mail service between the United States and foreign ports, and to pro, mote commerce," approved March 3, 1891, to contract for the carrying of the mails over such lines at such price as may be agreed upon by the board and the Postmaster General: Provided, That preference in the sale or assignment of vessels for operation on such steamship lines shall be given to persons who are citizens of the United States who have the support, financial and otherwise, of the domestic communities primarily interested in such lines if the board is satisfied of the ability of such persons to maintain the service desired and proposed to be maintained, or to persons who are citizens of the United States who may then be maintaining a service from the port of the United States to or in the general direction of the world market port to which the board has determined that such service should be established: Provided further, That where steamship lines and regular service have been established and are being maintained by ships of the board at the time of the enactment of this Act, such lines and service shall be maintained by the board until, in the opinion of the board, the maintenance thereof is unbusinesslike and against the public interests: And provided further, That whenever the board shall determine, as provided in this Act, that trade conditions warrant the establishment of a service or additional service under Government administration where a service is already being given by persons, citizens of the United States, the rates and charges for such Government service shall not be less than the cost thereof, including a proper interest and depreciation charge on the value of Government vessels and equipment employed therein.
Sec. 8. That it shall be the duty of the board, in cooperation with the Secretary of War, with the object to promoting, encouraging, and developing ports and transportation facilities in connection with water commerce over which it has jurisdiction, to investigate territorial regions and zones tributary to such ports, taking into consideration the economies of transportation by rail, water and highway and the natural direction of the flow of commerce; to investigate the causes of the congestion of commerce at ports and the remedies applicable thereto; to investigate the subject of water terminals, including the necessary docks, warehouses, apparatus, equipment, and appliances in connection therewith, with a view to devising and suggesting the types most appropriate for different locations and for the most expeditious and economical transfer or interchange of passengers or property between carriers by water and carriers by rail; to advise with communities regarding the appropriate location and plan of construction of wharves, piers, and water terminals; to investigate the practicability and advantages of harbor, river, and port improvements in connection with foreign and coastwise trade; and to investigate any other matter that may tend to promote and encourage the use by vessels of pɔrts adequate to care for the freight which would naturally pass through such ports; Provided, That if after such investigation the board shall be of the opinion that rates, charges, rules, or regulations of common carriers by rail subject to the jurisdiction of the Interstate Commerce Commission are detrimental to the declared object of this section, or that new rates, charges, rules, or regulations,new or additional port terminal facilities, or affirmative action on the part of such common carriers by rail is necessary to promote the objects of this section, the board may submit its findings to the Interstate Commerce Commission for such action as such commission may consider proper under existing law.
THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT
Sec. 9. That if the terms and conditions of any sale of a vessel made under the provisions of this Act include deferred payments of the purchase price, the board shall require, as part of such terms and conditions, that the purchaser of the vessel shall keep the same insured (a) against loss or damage by fire, and against marine risks and disasters, and war and other risks if the board so specifies, with such insurance companies, associations or underwriters, and under such forms of policies, and to such an amount, as the board may prescribe or approve; and (b) by protection and indemnity insurance with such insurance companies, associations, or underwriters and under such forms of policies, and to such an amount as the board may prescribe or approve. The insurance required to be carried under this section shall be made payable to the board and/or to the parties as interest may appear. The board is authorized to enter into any agreement that it deems wise in respect to the payment and/or the guarantee of premiums of insurance.
Sec. 10. That the board may create out of net revenue from operations and sales, and maintain and administer, a separate insurance fund, which it may use to insure, in whole or in part, against all hazards commonly covered by insurance policies in such cases, any interest of the United States (1) in any vessel, either constructed or in process of construction, and (2) in any plants or materials heretofore or hereafter acquired by the board or hereby transferred to the board.
Sec. 11. That during a period of five years from the enactment of this Act the board may annually set aside out of the revenues from sales and operations a sum not exceeding $25,000,000, to be known as its construction loan fund, to be used in aid of the construction of vessels of the best and most efficient type for the establishment and maintenance of service on steamship lines deemed desirable and necessary by the board, and such vessels shall be equipped with the most modern, the most efficient, and the most economical machinery and commercial appliances. The board shall use such fund to the extent required upon such terms as the board may prescribe to aid persons, citizens of the United States, in the construction by them in private shipyards in the United States of the foregoing class of vessels. No aid shall be for a greater sum than two-thirds of the cost of the vessel or vessels to be constructed, and the board shall require such security, including a first lien upon the entire interest in the vessel or vessels so constructed as it shall deem necessary to insure the repayment of such sum with interest thereon and the maintenance of the service for which such vessel or vessels are built.
Sec. 12. That all vessels may be reconditioned and kept in suitable repair and until sold shall be managed and operated by the board or chartered or leased by it on such terms and conditions as the board shall deem wise for the promotion and maintenance of an efficient merchant marine, pursuant to the policy and purposes declared in sections 1 and 5 of this Act; and the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation shall continue in existence and have authority to operate vessels, unless otherwise directed by law, until all vessels are sold in accordance with the provisions of this Act, the provision in section 11 of the "Shipping Act, 1916,” to the contrary notwithstanding.
Sec. 13. That the board is further authorized to sell all property other than vessels transferred to it under section 4 upon such terms and conditions as the board may determine and prescribe.
Sec. 14. That the net proceeds derived by the board prior to July 1, 1921, from any activities authorized by this Act, or by the "Shipping Act, 1916," or by the Acts specified in section 2 of this Act, except such an amount as the board shall deem necessary to withhold as operating capital, for the purposes of section 12 hereof, and for the insurance fund authorized in section 10 hereof, and for the construction loan fund authorized in section 11 hereof, shall be covered into the Treasury of the United States to the credit of the board and may be expended by it, within the limits the amounts heretofore or hereafter authorized, for the construction, requisitioning, or purchasing of vessels. After July 1, 1921, such net proceeds, less such an amount as may be authorized annually by Congress to be withheld as operating capital, and less such sums as may be needed for such insurance and construction loan funds, shall be covered into the Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts. The board shall, as rapidly as it deems advisable, withdraw investment of Government funds made during the emergency under the authority conferred by the Acts or parts of Acts repealed by section 2 of this Act and cover the net proceeds thereof into the Treasury of the United States as miscellaneous receipts.
Sec. 15. That the board shall not require payment from the War Department for the charter hire of vessels owned by the United States Government furnished by the board from July 1, 1918, to June 30, 1919, inclusive, for the use of such department.
Sec. 16. That all authorization to purchase, build, requisition, lease, exchange, or otherwise acquire houses, buildings or land under the Act entitled “An Act to authorize and empower the United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corporation to purchase, lease, requisition, or otherwise acquire, and to sell or otherwise dispose of improved or unimproved lands, houses, buildings, and for other purposes," approved March 1, 1918, is hereby terminated: Provided, however, That expenditures may be made under said Act for the repair of houses and buildings already constructed, and the completion of such houses or buildings as have heretofore been contracted for or are under construction, if considered advisable, and the board is authorized and directed to dispose of all such properties or the interest of the United States in all such properties at as early a date as practicable, consistent with good business and the best interests of the United States.
THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT
Sec. 17. That the board is authorized and directed to take over on January 1, 1921, the possession and control of, and to maintain and develop, all docks, piers, warehouses, wharves and terminal equipment and facilities, including all leasehold easements, rights of way, riparian rights and other rights, estates and interests therein or appurtenant thereto, acquired by the President by or under the Act entitled "An Act making appropriations to supply urgent deficiencies in appropriations for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1918, and prior fiscal years, on account of war expenses, and for other purposes," approved March 28, 1918.
The possession and control of such other docks, piers, warehouses, wharves and terminal equipment and facilities or parts thereof, including all leasehold easements, rights of way, riparian rights and other rights, estates or interests therein or appurtenant thereto which were acquired by the War Department or the Navy Department for military or naval purposes during the war emergency may be transferred by the President to the board whenever the President deems such transfer to be for the best interests of the United States.
The President may at any time he deems it necessary, by order setting out the need therefor and fixing the period of such need, permit or transfer the possession and control of any part of the property taken over by or transferred to the board under this section to the War Department or the Navy Department for their needs, and when in the opinion of the President such need therefor ceases the possession and control of such property shall revert to the board. None of such property shall be sold except as may be hereafter provided by law.
Sec. 18. That section 9 of the “Shipping Act, 1916," is amended to read as follows:
"SEC. 9. That any vessel purchased, chartered, or leased from the board, by persons who are citizens of the United States, may be registered or enrolled and licensed, or both registered and enrolled and licensed, as a vessel of the United States and entitled to the benefits and privileges appertaining thereto: Provided, That foreign-built vessels admitted to American registry or enrollment and license under this Act, and vessels owned by any corporation in which the United States is a stockholder, and vessels sold, leased, or chartered by the board to any person a citizen of the United States, as provided in this Act, may engage in the coastwise trade of the United States while owned, leased, or chartered by such a person.
"Every vessel purchased, chartered, or leased from the board shall, unless otherwise authorized by the board, be operated only under such registry or enrollment and license. Such vessels while employed solely as merchant vessels shall be subject to all laws, regulations and liabilities governing merchant vessels, whether the United States be interested therein as owner, in whole or in part, or hold any mortgage, lien, or other interest therein.
"It shall be unlawful to sell, transfer or mortgage, or, except under regulations prescribed by the board, to charter, any vessel purchased from the board or documented under the laws of the United States to any person not a citizen of the United States, or to put the same under a foreign registry or flag, without first obtaining the board's approval.
“Any vessel chartered, sold, transferred or mortgaged to a person not a citizen of the United States or placed under a foreign registry or flag, or operated, in violation of any provision of this section shall be forfeited to the United States, and whoever violates any provision of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of not more than $5,000, or to imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.”
Sec. 19. (1) The board is authorized and directed in aid of the accomplishment of the purposes of this Act: (a) To make all necessary rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this Act;
(b) To make rules and regulations affecting shipping in the foreign trade not in conflict with law in order to adjust.or meet general or special conditions unfavorable to shipping in the foreign trade, whether in any particular trade or upon any particular route or in commerce generally and which arise out of or result from foreign laws, rules, or regulations or from competitive methods or practices employed by owners, operators, agents, or masters of vessels of a foreign country; and
(c) To request the head of any department, board, bureau, or agency of the Government to suspend, modify, or annul rules or regulations which have been established by such department, board, bureau, or agency, or to make new rules or regulations affecting shipping in the foreign trade other than such rules or regulations relating to the Public Health Service, the Consular Service, and the Steamboat Inspection Service.
(2) No rule or regulation shall hereafter be established by any department, board, bureau, or agency of the Government which affect shipping in the foreign trade, except rules or regulations affecting the Public Health Service, the Consular Service, and the Steamboat Inspection Service, until such rule or regulation has been submitted to the board for its approval and final action has been taken thereon by the board or the President.
Whenever the head of any department, board, bureau, or agency of the Government refuses to suspend, modify, or annul any rule or regulation, or make a new rule or regulation upon request of the board, as provided in subdivision (c) of paragraph (1) of this section, or objects to the decision of the board in respect to the approval of any rule or regulation, as provided in paragraph (2) of this section, either the board or the head of the department, board, bureau, or agency which has established or is attempting to establish the rule or regulation in question may submit the facts to the President, who is hereby authorized to establish or suspend, modify, or annul such rule or regulation.