A-16076, NOVEMBER 18, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 348

A-16076: Nov 18, 1926

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PRESENTING A QUESTION WHETHER SEAMEN SIGNED ON AMERICAN SHIPS ENGAGED IN ILLEGAL LIQUOR TRAFFIC ARE ENTITLED TO THE RELIEF WHICH THE LAW AUTHORIZES FOR AMERICAN SEAMEN. WERE TO PROMOTE SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE BY PROVIDING RELIEF FOR AMERICAN SEAMEN WHO MIGHT BECOME DESTITUTE AS THE RESULT OF THEIR CALLING. THAT THE RELIEF AUTHORIZED THEREUNDER SHOULD BE PROVIDED ONLY TO THOSE WHO AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION FOR RELIEF ARE BY HABIT AND INTENT BONA FIDE MEMBERS OF THE AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE. 1 COMP. - AND THOSE WHO PURSUE IT FOR AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE CAN MAKE NO CLAIM FOR BENEFITS UNDER A STATUTE WHICH CAN HAVE RELATION ONLY TO A LEGITIMATE CALLING. THE BOOTLEGGING SEAMAN EQUALLY WITH THE PIRATE IS NOT PURSUING A LEGITIMATE CALLING.

A-16076, NOVEMBER 18, 1926, 6 COMP. GEN. 348

SEAMEN, DESTITUTE AMERICAN - RELIEF SEAMEN SIGNED ON AMERICAN SHIPS ENGAGED IN ILLEGAL LIQUOR TRAFFIC--- IF SATISFACTORILY ESTABLISHED--- DO NOT MAINTAIN THE CHARACTER OR STATUS OF AMERICAN SEAMEN AS DETERMINED BY THEIR LAST OCCUPATION WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE LAW ENTITLING THEM TO RELIEF.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, NOVEMBER 18, 1926:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF OCTOBER 19, 1926, INCLOSING A COPY OF A DISPATCH FROM THE AMERICAN CONSUL AT YARMOUTH, NOVA SCOTIA, PRESENTING A QUESTION WHETHER SEAMEN SIGNED ON AMERICAN SHIPS ENGAGED IN ILLEGAL LIQUOR TRAFFIC ARE ENTITLED TO THE RELIEF WHICH THE LAW AUTHORIZES FOR AMERICAN SEAMEN.

THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 4577, REVISED STATUTES, AND OTHER STATUTES PROVIDING FOR RELIEF OF AMERICAN SEAMEN, WERE TO PROMOTE SERVICE IN THE UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE BY PROVIDING RELIEF FOR AMERICAN SEAMEN WHO MIGHT BECOME DESTITUTE AS THE RESULT OF THEIR CALLING, AND BY RETURNING SAID SEAMEN TO THE UNITED STATES IN ORDER THAT THEY MIGHT AGAIN ENGAGE IN THE SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES MERCHANT MARINE. THIS LAW CONTEMPLATED, HOWEVER, THAT THE RELIEF AUTHORIZED THEREUNDER SHOULD BE PROVIDED ONLY TO THOSE WHO AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION FOR RELIEF ARE BY HABIT AND INTENT BONA FIDE MEMBERS OF THE AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE. 1 COMP. GEN. 760. THE CALLING OF SEAMEN MUST BE PURSUED LEGITIMATELY--- AND THOSE WHO PURSUE IT FOR AN UNLAWFUL PURPOSE CAN MAKE NO CLAIM FOR BENEFITS UNDER A STATUTE WHICH CAN HAVE RELATION ONLY TO A LEGITIMATE CALLING. THE BOOTLEGGING SEAMAN EQUALLY WITH THE PIRATE IS NOT PURSUING A LEGITIMATE CALLING.

ANSWERING YOUR QUESTION GENERALLY, IT MAY BE STATED THAT SEAMEN ON SHIPS ENGAGED IN ILLEGAL LIQUOR TRAFFIC--- IF SATISFACTORILY ESTABLISHED--- DO NOT MAINTAIN THE CHARACTER OR STATUS OF SEAMEN AS DETERMINED BY THEIR LAST OCCUPATION WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE LAW ENTITLING TO RELIEF.