Maritime History of the Great Lakes

Marine Record (Cleveland, OH), June 27, 1895, p. 8

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8 THE MARINE RECORD ESTABLISHED 1878. PUBLISHED EVERY THURSDAY, AT 144 SUPERIOR ST., (LEADER BUILDING), CLEVELAND, O. IRVING B. SMITH, CAPT. JOHN SWAINSON, BRANCH OFFIOE!: CHICAGO, ILL,., . f d 238 Lake Street. THOMAS WILLIAMS, Associate Editor. PROPRIETORS SUBSCRIPTION. One copy, one year, postage paid, One copy, one year, to foreign countries, . - Invariably in advance. $2 00 $3 00 ADVERTISING. Rates given on application. Entered at Cleveland Post Office as Second-class Mail Matter. ————————————————— ee CLEVELAND, O., JUNE 27, 1895. Tue Light-Housé Board ask for bids for the construc- tion of a first class composite light-vessel. Proposals willbe accepted up to July 11 and closed at 2p. m.on that date. DS —EEE In building 400 feet steamers, several of which are now under construction at lake shipyards, it is unnecessary to inflate their ability by stating that they will carry more cargo on a certain draft than they will be found able to do. Itshould be remembered that fourteen to fifteen feet draft is after all only ballast trim for vessels of this description, and the form of hull has not yet been con- ceived that will walk away with from three to five thous- and tons, flying light, in baliast trim only. 8 ; ———— sor ee A BRANCH hydrographic office ought to be established at Sault Ste Marie, Mich., and with a little judicious pres- sure there is little doubt but that funds could be found to open and maintain so useful a. bureau of maritime in- formation. If there is one place more than another where the best possible work could be done for a majority of lake tonnage it is at’ the “Soo” and an office with a good live assistant stationed at that point could keep emivently in touch with all Lake Superior commerce. The “Sooites” would do well to arm their Michigan legis- latures with a good healthy petition to lay before the next Congress and then enlist every proper influence towards having an appropriation carried through for the purpose of establishing a branch hydrographic office at Sault Ste Marie. Marine reports relating to the winds, currents, general weather conditions and the physical geography of the Great Lakes have been remarkable for their total absence hitherto and there seems to be no de- partment which could better enter into this special line of work than the Hydrographic Office, U. 8. Navy. EE Oe OF course the more conservative vessel owners on the lakes can’t be expected to go into ecstacies over a deep “waterway to the coast, which might in a measure im- peril their financial interests. The convention to be held in Cleveland during September next will advocate a canal of this sort, but it is safe to say that however successful the convention may be, the completion of such a water- way will not be accomplished for many years to come, and even then bottoms used in the lake trade will not, as a general rule, be pushed across the Atlantic. Foreign vessels are not permitted to carry cargo from one United States port to another, hence, the lake trade is secured to _ American vessel owners for all time. The principal fea- ture which the American delegates to the international convention should guard against is in making any Cana- dian port a terminal or port of trans-shipment, to the det- riment of a United States point. Even equal facilities ‘should not be granted, or the barriers now limiting and regulating the coastwise trade willbe thrown down and a free-for-all era of ruinous competition in cargo carrying would be likely to set in. On the other hand, if the ma- jority of the delegates recognize that the American lake commerce has backbone enough to withstand all foreign attacks ard still prosper, then the most liberal construc- tion may be placed on the route which may be chosen for the deep waterway to the coast, and an international agreement for the same be ratified. THE MARINE RECORD. OFFICIAL COURTS OF INQUIRY. Notwithstanding the many serious casualties to shipping so far this season on the lakes, there has been an absence of evidence showing how the strandings, fire and collisions took place. On the other hand, it is quite no- ticeable that any accidents to machinery, involving loss of life and or property are promptly inquired into and de- cisions rendered at the earliest possible moment, as for instance, the Christopher Columbus accident on Lake Michigan where loss of life took place owing to the bursting of a steam pipe on Saturday, evidence was gathered and a verdict rendered by the officers of the steamboat inspection service within forty-eight hours of the time the accident happened, but in of the Cayuga-Hurd collision which occurred several weeks ago also on Lake Michigan, the full particulars of the causes leading up to the sinking of the large steel steamer with her cargo and the constructive total loss of the Hurd has not yet been made public nor has even the location of the foundered steamer been discovered although an un- derwriter’s expedition has been at work for weeks try- ing to find her. However, when a vessel is sunk in deep water, or in a position too exposed to carry out successful salvage or wrecking work, there is no good end served by finding her, at least not from a financial standpoint, and if in shoal or protected waters the hull is usually soon found. In any case, good, reliable, wholesome total losses, such as the Cayuga or Norman proved to be is the best possible advertisemeut of the underwriter’s business, and as such, is eventually bound to increase his profits, because if there were no accidents there would be no premiums earned and after all the assured, whether ves- sel owner, shipper or consignee ultimately pays for every cent of losses brought about in any special class of insur- ance, certainly the assurer can stand no further losses than the amount of the premiums he or they may have received for carrying the risks. To come back to the subject of official courts of inquiry, it is a question which can and ought to be completely divorced from every bearing which insurance may haye on a casualty, the assurer guarrantees to protect the as- sured from loss and there the matter ends so far as they are concerned. The great good which would accrue to the general navigation interests from holding adequate judicial inquiries into all serious casualties would be to warn the sailing community of all insecure positions, conditions or circumstances in which they might be placed while carrying on the vastly increasing commerce of the lakes. Should a collision occur it would surely be for the best interests of all to know positively and ex- actly what action or inaction was accountable for the vessels coming together, an: apparently unexplainable stranding takes place would it not also be the most bene- ficial feature of the learn all about the mys- terious agency which swept the vessel from her ordinary course. A fire takes place, might it not be advantageous to learn how it originated and perhaps by such means avoid a similar catastrophe in the future, or perhaps many of them. There is everthing to gain and positively nothing to lose in the adoption or establishment of an official board of inquiry whose duty it would be to go into all important casualties, and carefully as well as skillfully sift the evi- dence secured. ‘The composition of such aboard and the details regulating same is of course a matter for after consideration, certainly, judicial as well as technical qualifications should be the main features embodied in a court of this description. THE MARINE RECORD has often dwelt on the import- ant advantages to be derived from a full and fair investi- gation of the principal casualties occurring on the lakes during a season of navigation, and while in some rare cases it might result in the detention of an important witness for a few days, in the majority of cases a written statement would no doubt be considered all sufficient evidence to lay before the board. Furthermore, we note this week that a prominent Detroit vessel owner, who by the way, is one of the first to advocate the formation of such a court as is mentioned in the foregoing, suggests “the creation by Congress of an investigation board to inquire judicially into all collisions on the lakes,” and we may go further and say that such a board will eventually be established, and this too, for the best interests of all concerned in the commerce and safe navigation of the Great Lakes. The only question is how best to hurry it along. ALIEN PILOTS AND ENGINEERS. It should now be clearly understood among pilots and engiveers on the lakes and elsewhere, that any alien who has declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and whoshall haye been a permanent res ident for at least six months immediately prior to the granting of such license, may be licensed as if fully nat- uralized, to serve as an engineer or pilot upon any steam vessel subject to inspection. Up to within a few weeks ago, or according to the no- tification sent out by the steamboat inspection service at Washington, on May 25, only full fledged citizens were supposed to be eligible as candidates for examination to hold an officer’s license in the steamboat service of this country. On May 9th, however, the Attorney-General of the United States ruled that the act known as the “Ding- ley bill,” approved June 26, 1884, did not render nugatory as had been hitherto held, the legislation on this question approved April 17, 1874, authorizing the employment of certain aliens as engineers and pilots, and thus the views previously enforced by the steamboat inspection depart- ment, which of course includes the licensing committees, no longer holds good, so that now all that is necessary for an alien to do when desiring a license as an officer in the mercantile marine is to declare his intentions of becom- ing a citizen, and after six months’ residence present him- self before the local inspectors as a candidate for an offi- cer’s license. In this connection there is a point which we desire to bring out in its full force, and that is, the fact of an ap- parent discrimination being found to exist in the status of licensed officers. Duly certificated engineers and pilots sworn:to comply with al) the requirements of the service, etc., are not on the same official plane as the master, who but fulfills the same national obligations, if such they may be termed, as the other licensed officers in the mercantile marine. The act approved April 17, 1874, therefore ap-. plies only to engineers and pilots and not to masters, al- though it may be argued, that the master alone is in full charge, and in consequence his position should be more carefully guarded. It is not from this standpoint, how- eyer, that we,note the discrimination, but rather on the ground that official documents, such as steamboat offi- | cers’ licenses ought to hold the same relative value ac- = cording to their grade, and so that in the event of a mas- ter, for instance, becoming disabled, the first-class pilot or chief mate would be eligible to take command and carry the vessel to her destination, instead of illegaily navigating past the first port of safety. Of course all engineers and pilots are now full citizens of the United States, with all the rights and privileges enjoyed thereby, as up to the present none others could receive a license, but in the future when the six months residence clause becomes a common feature, it would be well for such pilots to remember that while nominally citizens holding a government license, they are not eligi- ble to exercise their functions in a higher grade, or rather as master, until they become citizens in full by a longer service under the flag. Hence, we have degrees of cit- izenship ; at least it appears to us that such is the con- struction placed upon an act of Congress by the Attorney General, as the holding of a United States steamboat offi- cer’s license has hitherto always been accepted as prima facie evidence, if not positive proof, of nationality. Sa ceerreennnnnenennnnnmeemensso_cedi tires RAFT .TOWING AGAIN. Notwithstanding the strong efforts made in the past by - the Lake Carriers’ Association and the government com- missions appointed to inquire thoroughly into the sub- ject from all standpoints, so that adequate rules might be put in force regulating the traffic of raft towing, it was only a few days ago that an enormous raft broke up at the South-east bend in St. Clair River, and for a time stopped traflic at that point, as well as inflicting damage to passing vessels. Of course the waters are free to float all legitimate ventures and traffic, but when any industry becomes a menace to general commerce it is then high time to place proper restrictions on such tratiic for the safety of all concerned, In treating upon this subject, the Detroit Journal strikes the keynote to the situation in the fol-® — lowing pithy editorial : a: “That people who are engaged in the long timber bpsi- ness and towing of rafts have certain rights in navigable waters, goes without saying, but when they are allowed, as is seemingly the case at-present, to do so regardless ot the rights of other tonnage on the lakes, blocking the RPE Oe ter ‘a is

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