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Annex II to the Convention appear the alterations to these collision regulations which the Conference believed should be made effective. An examination of Annex II will disclose the importance from the standpoint of safety of life at sea of these “rules of the road,” so called and of the changes which are recommended therein. The changes recommended tend to clarity and to greater safety. As a part of its work the Technical Committee on Safety of Navigation also made various other recommendations which are included in the Final Act of the Conference, Part III, paragraphs 9–14.” These recommendations have to do with radio aids to navigation, synchronized radio and under-water signals, depth sounding apparatus, life-saving signals, shore lights and collision regulations for air craft on the surface of the water. The subject matter of Chapter V and of the regulations bearing thereon, the changes recommended in the collision regulations and the recommendations adopted by the Conference with respect to the matters enumerated were of particular concern to the delegation of the United States, and the advances made may be attributed in no small part to the interest and efforts of its delegation. Chapter VI provides for the issue of certificates by the appropriate government. A safety certificate is required to be issued after inspection and survey to every passenger ship which complies with the requirements of Chapter II (Construction), Chapter III (Lifesaving Appliances) and Chapter IV (Radiotelegraphy) of the Convention. In addition to this safety certificate a safety radiotelegraphy certificate is required for every ship other than a passenger ship which complies with the provisions of Chapter IV relating to radiotelegraphy, and a third certificate, called an exemption certificate, is provided for each ship to which an exemption is granted by a contracting government under specific authority of the Convention. This chapter deals with the form of certificates, their duration, and the credit to be given them by another government. The right of inspection of a foreign ship while within the jurisdiction of a contracting government is preserved. The Convention will come into force on July 1, 1931, as between the governments which have deposited their ratifications by that date, provided that ratifications of at least five governments have been deposited. Provision is made for future conferences for the revision of the Convention, the first of which conferences may not be held until after the Convention shall have been in force for five years. A government may withdraw from the Convention by denunciation thereof after the expiration of five years from the date on which the Convention came into force with respect to it.
* Post, p. 196. * Post, pp. 252–3.
The hope of the delegation of the United States was to secure the adoption of rules which with respect to vessel construction would make ships as nearly unsinkable as practically possible; which would guard against fire; which would protect from the dangers of storm, of derelicts and of ice; which in time of emergency and disaster would insure adequate lifeboats, rafts and belts, and would otherwise safeguard the lives of passengers and crew; which would extend the use of radio as a protection of life and as an aid to navigation; which would make the rules of navigation responsive to the use of modern ships and changed conditions; and which would contribute in their letter and spirit to the highest standards of safety for those going down to the sea in ships. The delegation encountered wide diversity of interest and opinion as to many of the subjects considered, but the deep sense of responsibility felt by all led to final agreements upon all matters included within the scope of the Convention.
I am convinced that the purpose which animated the Government of the United States in participating in this Conference has been realized. I believe the Convention provides for the highest standards of safety which it is now practicable to bring forward for international adoption. It represents a marked advance over the present legal standards and practices of the world and in many and important particulars it has raised the standards of our own country.
INSTRUCTIONS TO DELEGATES OF THE UNITED STATES, MARCH 28, 1929
DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
WASHINGTON, March 28, 1929. Hon. WALLACE H. WHITE, JR., Chairman, Mr. ARTHUR J. TYRER, Vice Chairman, Mr. CHARLES M. BARNES, Rear Admiral GEORGE H. Rock, Capt. CLARENCE S. KEMPFF, Mr. DICKERSON N. HOOVER, Mr. William D. TERRELL, Rear Admiral JOHN G. TAWRESEY, Mr. HERBERT B. WALKER, Mr. HENRY G. SMITH, Capt. CHARLES A. MCALLISTER, , Delegates on the part of the United States of America to the
International Conference for the revision of the Convention of 1914 for the safety of life at sea, to convene in London, April
16, 1929. SIRS:
The International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea, to be held at London beginning April 16, 1929, to which you have been appointed as delegates on the part of the United States of America by the President, by commissions issued on February 16, 1929, and already delivered to you, has as its purpose the revision of the Convention of 1914 on Safety of Life at Sea.
The Convention of 1914 was drawn up at a conference held at London, November, 1913, to January, 1914, and was signed on January 20, 1914, by representatives of Germany, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, United States of America, France, Great Britain, Italy, Holland, Norway, Russia and Sweden. Japan was represented at the Conference of 1913–14, but the delegation was appointed at a late date and was not authorized by the Japanese Government to vote in the Conference or committees or to sign the convention.
The main provisions of the Convention of 1914 relate to the safety of navigation by the destruction of derelicts, the study and observation of ice conditions, the maintenance of the ice patrol in the North Atlantic Ocean, to the construction of vessels, to radio telegraphy, life-saving appliances and fire protection on vessels, and to safety certificates. The Convention was ratified by some of the signatory
states, but not by all of them. It was not ratified by the United States. Owing to the war and other causes, the convention was not brought into force completely as a convention in any country, though parts of it have been adopted and put into force by several countries under their national law. The regulations in section 14 of the Act of the Congress of the United States, approved March 4, 1915, known as the La Follette Seaman's Act, follow almost verbatim Articles XXVII to LI of the regulations annexed to the Convention of 1914, which have to do with “life-saving appliances and fire protection.” Notwithstanding the failure of the Government of the United States to ratify the Convention of 1914, this Government undertook the direction of the services of derelict destruction, study and observation of ice conditions, and the international ice patrol in the North Atlantic, as it was invited to do by Article 7 of the convention. Pursuant to an executive order these services are performed by the vessels of the United States Coast Guard, Treasury Department, under the direction of the Interdepartmental Board on International Ice Observation, Ice Patrol and Ocean Derelict Destruction. Foreign nations contribute pro rata shares for the maintenance of the services. The proposal for a conference to revise and amend the Convention of 1914 for the Safety of Life at Sea was made by the British Government in the autumn of 1927. By a note under date of September 30, of that year, the British Ambassador at Washington transmitted to the Secretary of State a memorandum of suggestions for the revision of the Convention of 1914, prepared by the British Board of Trade, inquired whether in the opinion of the Government of the United States the proposals in the memorandum formed a suitable basis for the discussion of the amendment of the Convention of 1914, and requested an expression of the views of the Government of the United States as to the advisability of holding an international conference for the purpose of making such revision. In the memorandum it was suggested that as a result of experience obtained by the maritime powers it might be advisable to modify the Convention of 1914; and certain observations, based upon the experience of the British authorities, were submitted therein concerning proposed modifications. These proposals related to the following subjects: Subdivision of ships; Life-saving appliances; Wireless telegraphy; Fire-extinguishing appliances; Ice patrol; Collision regulations.
1 38 Stat. 1164, 1170–1184.
The proposals received from the British Ambassador were brought to the attention of the Departments of War, Navy, Treasury, Commerce, Agriculture, and Shipping Board for an expression of their views in regard to them. All the departments concurred in the view that the Convention of 1914 required amendment, that the proposed conference was of vital interest to the United States, and that it should be represented at the conference by delegates, technical advisers and other necessary personnel. By a note dated January 23, 1928, the Secretary of State informed the British Ambassador that the Government of the United States was in agreement with the British Government that consideration should be given to the revision of the Convention of 1914, and suggested that, if it were decided to call a conference, it be called for a date in the spring of 1929, subsequent to April first, in order to allow time for the making of adequate technical preparation on the various subjects which would be discussed. On January 12, 1928, an interdepartmental committee was organized, composed of representatives of the Departments of State, Treasury, War, Navy, Commerce, Agriculture, and the United States Shipping Board, for the purpose of developing a plan of procedure with reference to preparation by the United States for participation in the proposed conference. At the second meeting of the interdepartmental committee, held on January 21, 1928, a resolution was adopted charging the Department of Commerce with the organization of technical committees to make the necessary preparatory studies and with the direction of the preliminary work. Under the direction of the Department of Commerce, three principal technical committees with subcommittees were organized, as follows: (1) Ship-construction committee— (a) Subdivision of ships, (b) Life-saving appliances, (c) Fire-extinguishing appliances; (2) Wireless telegraphy committee; (3) Navigation committee— (a) Ice patrol, (b) Meteorology, (c) Rules of the road. Later, an executive committee, having the Commissioner of Navigation as chairman, was organized to direct and correlate the work of the technical committees. As a result of the studies made by the technical committees and on the recommendation of the executive committee and the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of State suggested to the British Ambassador, in a note of December 6, 1928, that the subject of stability be added to the agenda of the conference. The United States has not