A-3864, SEPTEMBER 3, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 252

A-3864: Sep 3, 1924

Additional Materials:

Contact:

Edda Emmanuelli Perez
(202) 512-2853
EmmanuelliPerezE@gao.gov

 

Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800
youngc1@gao.gov

TRANSPORTATION AND MAINTENANCE OF DISABLED AMERICAN SEAMEN WHERE AN AMERICAN SEAMAN IS DISCHARGED BY A CONSULAR OFFICER ON ACCOUNT OF ILLNESS OR INJURY INCAPACITATING HIM FROM FURTHER SERVICE. THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS SUBSISTENCE AND TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES IS PRIMARILY THAT OF THE OWNERS OF THE VESSEL FROM WHICH DISCHARGED. IF A VESSEL OF THE SAME COMPANY IS AVAILABLE SUCH VESSEL SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO TRANSPORT THE DISCHARGED SEAMAN TO A UNITED STATES PORT WITHOUT COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHERE NO SUCH VESSEL IS AVAILABLE. THE COST OF TRANSPORTING THE SEAMAN BY ANOTHER STEAMSHIP LINE IS PAYABLE FROM THE FUND FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND TRANSPORTATION OF DESTITUTE AMERICAN SEAMEN.

A-3864, SEPTEMBER 3, 1924, 4 COMP. GEN. 252

TRANSPORTATION AND MAINTENANCE OF DISABLED AMERICAN SEAMEN WHERE AN AMERICAN SEAMAN IS DISCHARGED BY A CONSULAR OFFICER ON ACCOUNT OF ILLNESS OR INJURY INCAPACITATING HIM FROM FURTHER SERVICE, THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR HIS SUBSISTENCE AND TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES IS PRIMARILY THAT OF THE OWNERS OF THE VESSEL FROM WHICH DISCHARGED, AND IF A VESSEL OF THE SAME COMPANY IS AVAILABLE SUCH VESSEL SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO TRANSPORT THE DISCHARGED SEAMAN TO A UNITED STATES PORT WITHOUT COST TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHERE NO SUCH VESSEL IS AVAILABLE, THE COST OF TRANSPORTING THE SEAMAN BY ANOTHER STEAMSHIP LINE IS PAYABLE FROM THE FUND FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND TRANSPORTATION OF DESTITUTE AMERICAN SEAMEN. THE COST OF THE MAINTENANCE OF AN AMERICAN SEAMAN DISCHARGED BY A CONSULAR OFFICER ON ACCOUNT OF ILLNESS OR INJURY, WHILE AWAITING TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES, IS PAYABLE FROM THE FUND FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND TRANSPORTATION OF DESTITUTE AMERICAN SEAMEN, REGARDLESS OF WHETHER HE HAS FUNDS OF HIS OWN FOR HIS IMMEDIATE NEEDS.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, SEPTEMBER 3, 1924:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER DATED JULY 7, 1924, FILE CO 196.7/2150, AS FOLLOWS:

THE DEPARTMENT HAS RECEIVED A REQUEST FROM THE AMERICAN CONSUL AT HAMBURG, GERMANY, THAT YOU BE REQUESTED TO RENDER A DECISION ON A POINT CONCERNING THE RELIEF OF DISTRESSED AMERICAN SEAMEN WHICH MAY BE STATED AS FOLLOWS:

"IN CASE A SEAMAN HAS BEEN PLACED IN A HOSPITAL PRIOR TO HIS DISCHARGE FROM THE VESSEL BY A CONSULAR OFFICER, IS THE CONSULAR OFFICER AUTHORIZED WHEN THE STEAMSHIP COMPANY DECLINES TO PAY FOR THE SEAMAN'S SUBSISTENCE AFTER DISCHARGE FROM THE HOSPITAL AND TO TRANSPORT HIM TO THE UNITED STATES, TO ASSUME THAT BURDEN IF THE SEAMAN IS NOT ACTUALLY DESTITUTE?

IN CONNECTION WITH THE FOREGOING QUESTION THE CONSUL STATES THAT HE DOES NOT UNDERSTAND EXACTLY WHAT IS MEANT BY THE DECISION OF THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL DATED SEPTEMBER 28, 1923, WHEREIN IT IS STATED THAT: "SUCH EXPENSES WOULD NOT BE NECESSARY AND SHOULD NOT BE INCURRED * * * WHEN ARRANGEMENTS CAN BE MADE TO RETURN THE SEAMAN ON A VESSEL OF THE SAME COMPANY BY WHICH HE WAS EMPLOYED.' THE CONSUL FURTHER STATES THAT HE FEELS THAT STEAMSHIP COMPANIES WILL INVARIABLY REFUSE TO TRANSPORT SEAMEN INJURED ON THEIR VESSELS IF THEY KNOW THAT THEIR REFUSAL WILL ABSOLVE THEM FROM FURTHER LIABILITY, AND REMARKS THAT THE PORT REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD AT HAMBURG SAYS THAT INSTRUCTIONS RECEIVED BY HIM PREVENT HIM FROM MAINTAINING AND TRANSPORTING TO THE UNITED STATES SEAMEN OF THE CONDITION UNDER DISCUSSION AFTER THEIR DISCHARGE FROM THE HOSPITAL.

A DECISION FROM YOU IN REPLY TO THE FOREGOING QUESTION IS RESPECTFULLY REQUESTED IN ORDER THAT THE CONSUL MAY BE APPROPRIATELY INSTRUCTED.

SECTION 4581, REVISED STATUTES, AS AMENDED, PROVIDES THE MANNER IN WHICH AMERICAN SEAMEN SHALL BE DISCHARGED IN FOREIGN PORTS BY THE CONSULAR OFFICERS AND IS IN PART AS FOLLOWS:

* * * IF THE SEAMAN IS DISCHARGED ON ACCOUNT OF INJURY OR ILLNESS, INCAPACITATING HIM FOR SERVICE, THE EXPENSES OF HIS MAINTENANCE AND RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES SHALL BE PAID FROM THE FUND FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND TRANSPORTATION OF DESTITUTE AMERICAN SEAMAN.

IT HAS BEEN UNIFORMLY HELD THAT THIS STATUTE DOES NOT SHIFT THE BURDEN OF PROVIDING FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND TRANSPORTATION OF SUCH INJURED OR ILL SEAMEN FROM THE STEAMSHIP OWNERS TO THE GOVERNMENT AND THAT THE PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY FOR SUCH MAINTENANCE AND TRANSPORTATION IS UPON THE OWNERS OF THE VESSEL UPON WHICH SUCH INJURY OR ILLNESS WAS INCURRED. SEE 14 COMP. DEC. 570; 15 ID., 348; 2 COMP. GEN. 438; 25 MS. COMP. GEN. 953, SEPT. 28, 1923; 29 OP.ATTY.GEN. 54, AND THE AUTHORITIES CITED THEREIN.

WHILE THE DUTIES OF CONSULAR OFFICERS WITH RESPECT TO THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE RIGHTS OF THE SEAMEN AND THE LIABILITY OF THE VESSELS OR THEIR OWNERS ARE NOT PRIMARILY FOR DETERMINATION BY THIS OFFICE EXCEPT IN SO FAR AS IT AFFECTS PAYMENTS MADE BY SUCH CONSULAR OFFICERS FROM PUBLIC FUNDS, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT THE PROPER PROCEDURE IN CASES LIKE THAT HERE UNDER CONSIDERATION IS THAT WHEN A VESSEL OWNED BY THE SAME COMPANY AS IS THAT BY WHICH THE SAILOR WAS EMPLOYED, IS AVAILABLE FOR HIS TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES, SUCH VESSEL SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO FURNISH HIM WITH THE SUBSISTENCE AND TRANSPORTATION REQUIRED FOR HIS RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES WITHOUT COST TO THE UNITED STATES.

WHERE NO SUCH VESSEL IS AVAILABLE THE NECESSARY TRANSPORTATION AND SUBSISTENCE SHOULD BE PROVIDED ON ANOTHER VESSEL, THE CONSULAR OFFICER FURNISHING THE MASTER OF THE VESSEL WITH THE NECESSARY CERTIFICATE UPON WHICH PAYMENT THEREFOR MAY BE MADE IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE STATUTES AND THE DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE, FROM THE FUNDS FOR THE MAINTENANCE AND TRANSPORTATION OF AMERICAN SEAMEN.

IN REGARD TO THAT PORTION OF THE CONSUL'S QUESTION RELATING TO SUBSISTENCE FOR THE SEAMAN WHILE AWAITING TRANSPORTATION TO THE UNITED STATES, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT WHEN A SEAMAN IS DISCHARGED BY OR BEFORE A CONSULAR OFFICER ON ACCOUNT OF INJURY OR ILLNESS INCAPACITATING HIM FOR FURTHER SERVICE THE NECESSARY SUBSISTENCE OR MAINTENANCE REQUIRED FOR HIM PENDING HIS RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES AT THE EARLIEST PRACTICABLE DATE MAY BE FURNISHED HIM REGARDLESS OF WHETHER OR NOT HE HAS FUNDS OF HIS OWN FOR HIS IMMEDIATE NEEDS. 2 COMP. GEN.,438.