A-18232, MAY 6, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 723

A-18232: May 6, 1927

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LIABILITY FOR THE RETURN OF SEAMEN TO THE UNITED STATES IS THAT OF THE MASTER OR OWNER OF THE VESSEL ON WHICH THE SEAMEN SHIPPED. WHERE A VOYAGE WAS INTERRUPTED BY THE LIBELING OF THE VESSEL IN A FOREIGN PORT AND THE MASTER NEGLECTED OR REFUSED TO PROVIDE FOR THE RETURN OF THE CREW TO THE UNITED STATES. SUCH AMOUNT AS WAS EXPENDED FOR TRANSPORTATION MAY BE DEDUCTED FROM THE PROCEEDS REALIZED ON SALE OF THE VESSEL BY THE FOREIGN COURT AND TURNED OVER TO THE AMERICAN COUNSUL. THE AMOUNT SO DEDUCTED SHOULD BE DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE CREDIT OF THE APPROPRIATION TO WHICH THE COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED WAS CHARGED. 1927: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 20. IN REGARD TO THE JUDICIAL SALE OF THE AMERICAN SCHOONER UNDAUNTED BY A PERUVIAN COURT AND REQUESTS A DECISION FROM YOUR OFFICE CONCERNING THE DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS WHICH HAVE COME INTO THE COUNSUL'S POSSESSION AS PROCEEDS FROM THE AFORESAID SALE.

A-18232, MAY 6, 1927, 6 COMP. GEN. 723

SEAMEN, DESTITUTE AMERICAN - TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES AS THE PRIMARY DUTY, RESPONSIBILITY, AND LIABILITY FOR THE RETURN OF SEAMEN TO THE UNITED STATES IS THAT OF THE MASTER OR OWNER OF THE VESSEL ON WHICH THE SEAMEN SHIPPED, WHERE A VOYAGE WAS INTERRUPTED BY THE LIBELING OF THE VESSEL IN A FOREIGN PORT AND THE MASTER NEGLECTED OR REFUSED TO PROVIDE FOR THE RETURN OF THE CREW TO THE UNITED STATES, NECESSITATING THEIR TRANSPORTATION AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE, SUCH AMOUNT AS WAS EXPENDED FOR TRANSPORTATION MAY BE DEDUCTED FROM THE PROCEEDS REALIZED ON SALE OF THE VESSEL BY THE FOREIGN COURT AND TURNED OVER TO THE AMERICAN COUNSUL. THE AMOUNT SO DEDUCTED SHOULD BE DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE CREDIT OF THE APPROPRIATION TO WHICH THE COST OF THE TRANSPORTATION FURNISHED WAS CHARGED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, MAY 6, 1927:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF APRIL 20, 1927, AS FOLLOWS:

THE DEPARTMENT REFERS TO A DESPATCH RECEIVED FROM THE AMERICAN CONSUL IN CHARGE OF CALLAO-LIMA, PERU, IN REGARD TO THE JUDICIAL SALE OF THE AMERICAN SCHOONER UNDAUNTED BY A PERUVIAN COURT AND REQUESTS A DECISION FROM YOUR OFFICE CONCERNING THE DISBURSEMENT OF FUNDS WHICH HAVE COME INTO THE COUNSUL'S POSSESSION AS PROCEEDS FROM THE AFORESAID SALE.

IT APPEARS THAT THE MANAGING OWNER OF THE UNDAUNTED PRIOR TO ITS JUDICIAL SALE, THAT IS, MR. G. F. MATTHEWS, CARE HARTWOOD LUMBER COMPANY, PORTLAND, OREGON, COLLECTED ALL FREIGHT DUE THE VESSEL PRIOR TOITS DEPARTURE FOR PERU ON THE VOYAGE ON WHICH IT WAS LIBELLED AND SOLD, AND THAT HE NEGLECTED AND REFUSED TO MAKE PROVISION FOR THE SUPPORT AND REPATRIATION OF THE MEMBERS OF THE CREW FOLLOWING ITS SEIZURE. THE CREW, WHICH WAS SHIPPED IN THE UNITED STATES, BECAME DESTITUTE AMERICAN SEAMEN AND THE AMERICAN CONSUL IN CHARGE AT CALLAO LIMA WAS OBLIGED TO REPATRIATE THEM AT AN EXPENSE OF $835 TO THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT. THE PROCEEDS OF THE SALE IN EXCESS OF THE WAGES FOUND DUE THE MEMBERS OF THE CREW, HAVE BEEN DELIVERED TO THE CONSUL BY THE COURT AND BEFORE REMITTING ANY OF SAID FUNDS TO THE AMERICAN OWNERS, THE CONSUL HAS DEDUCTED AND FORWARDED TO THIS DEPARTMENT THE SUM OF $835, WHICH WAS EXPENDED FOR THE RELIEF OF THE CREW AS STATED ABOVE, AND STATES THAT HE BELIEVES THIS SUM SHOULD BE CREDITED AS REIMBURSEMENT TO THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE RELIEF OF SEAMEN, AND NOT PAID TO THE OWNERS.

YOUR OPINION IS REQUESTED WHETHER THE SUM OF $835 MAY BE APPLIED, TO THE REIMBURSEMENT OF THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT FOR THE AMOUNT EXPENDED FOR SEAMEN'S RELIEF IN THE MANNER DESCRIBED AND, IF YOUR OPINION BE IN THE AFFIRMATIVE, WHETHER THIS DEPARTMENT MAY PAY THIS SUM INTO THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES.

FROM THE FACTS STATED, IT IS CLEAR THAT THE MASTER OR OWNER OF THE LIBELED VESSEL HAD NOT BEEN RELIEVED OF ALL DUTY, RESPONSIBILITY, AND LIABILITY WITH RESPECT TO THE RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES OF THE SEAMEN AND WHILE AUTHORITY IS GRANTED BY STATUTE FOR THE RETURN OF SEAMEN TO THE UNITED STATES AT GOVERNMENT EXPENSE UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES, SUCH AUTHORITY DOES NOT AFFECT THE DUTY AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THE OWNERS OR MASTER IN THE MATTER. THE VOYAGE HAVING BEEN INTERRUPTED BY THE JUDICIAL SALE OF THE VESSEL, THE SEAMEN WERE ENTITLED TO BE RETURNED TO THE UNITED STATES AT THE COST OF THE OWNERS OR MASTER OF THE VESSEL. PACIFIC MAIL STEAMSHIP COMPANY V. IVERSON, 154 FED.REP. 450; THE GASELLE, 10 FED.CAS. 127. SEE ALSO PARAGRAPH 252, CONSULAR REGULATIONS.

ACCORDINGLY, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE ACTION OF THE CONSUL IN DEDUCTING FROM THE PROCEEDS OF SALE OF THE VESSEL AN AMOUNT EQUAL TO THE COST OF SUBSISTING AND RETURNING THE SEAMEN TO THE UNITED STATES WAS PROPER. THE AMOUNT SHOULD BE DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY OF THE UNITED STATES TO THE CREDIT OF THE APPROPRIATION TO WHICH THE EXPENDITURES INCIDENT TO THE REPATRIATION WERE CHARGED.