The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), Aug. 22, 1882

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An act passed August 5th of this year provides for certain deductions from the gross tonnage of United States vessels. The following is the circular issued by Secretary French:

"That from the gross tonnage of every vessel of the United States there shall be deducted the tonnage of the spaces or compartments occupied by or appropriated to the use of the crew of the vessel, but the deduction for the crew space shall not in any case exceed five per centum of the gross tonnage. And in every such vessel propelled by steam or other power requiring engine room there shall also be deducted from the gross tonnage of the vessel the tonnage of the space or spaces usually occupied by or required to be enclosed for the proper working of the boilers and machinery, including the shaft trunk or alley in screw steamers, with the addition in the case of vessels propelled by paddle wheels of 50 per centum, and in the case of vessels propelled by screws of 75 per centum of the tonnage of such space, but in no case shall the deductions from the gross tonnage exceed 50 per centum of such tonnage, and the proper deductions from the gross tonnage having been made, the remainder shall be deemed the net or register tonnage of such vessels."

Owners or masters of vessels should make immediate application at the custom house of their home port for the measurement of exempted spaces and for corrections of their marine documents accordingly. The charge for measuring each space exempted will be $1.50, but no charge shall be made for inserting the deductions in the documents.

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I find it interesting all the confusion that changes in vessel law caused among ship owners and masters. Things havn't changed so much in 120 years. Custom house collector Jesse Spaulding of Chicago seemed to be the one official determined to find the exact implications of every new ordinance and its effect on lake commerce. This act is actually a "clarification" of previous laws regarding the interior volumes to be subtracted from the gross tonnage of a vessel to arrive at the net tonnage figure. In order for this regulation to be easily understood, it must be remembered that tonnage is a measure of volume, not weight (1 ton of tonnage = approx 95 cu. ft.).
Date of Original:
Aug. 22, 1882
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Dave Swayze
Copyright Statement:
Public domain: Copyright has expired according to the applicable Canadian or American laws. No restrictions on use.
Maritime History of the Great Lakes
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Detroit Post and Tribune (Detroit, MI), Aug. 22, 1882