A-56687, SEPTEMBER 27, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 256

A-56687: Sep 27, 1934

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GOVERNMENT VESSELS - COLLISION - DAMAGES - PAYMENT WHERE THERE IS A COLLISION OF A WAR DEPARTMENT DREDGE AND A SHIPPING BOARD MERCHANT FLEET CORPORATION VESSEL. FOR WHICH THE LATTER VESSEL IS RESPONSIBLE. THE APPROPRIATION "UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD SHIPPING FUND" IS AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF THE RESULTANT DAMAGES ON ACCOUNT OF THE ACTIONABLE INJURIES TO THE SAID DREDGE. WHEREIN IT WAS HELD UPON THE FACTS PRESENTED IN YOUR SUBMISSION OF JULY 13. WAS LIABLE FOR THE DAMAGES SUSTAINED IN A COLLISION WITH THE WAR DEPARTMENT'S DREDGE. WITH YOUR REQUEST FOR REVIEW YOU HAVE TRANSMITTED A COPY OF THE FORM OF POLICY OF INSURANCE CARRIED ON THE SAID VESSEL LIBERATOR WITH THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD'S GENERAL INSURANCE FUND.

A-56687, SEPTEMBER 27, 1934, 14 COMP. GEN. 256

GOVERNMENT VESSELS - COLLISION - DAMAGES - PAYMENT WHERE THERE IS A COLLISION OF A WAR DEPARTMENT DREDGE AND A SHIPPING BOARD MERCHANT FLEET CORPORATION VESSEL, FOR WHICH THE LATTER VESSEL IS RESPONSIBLE, THE APPROPRIATION "UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD SHIPPING FUND" IS AVAILABLE FOR PAYMENT OF THE RESULTANT DAMAGES ON ACCOUNT OF THE ACTIONABLE INJURIES TO THE SAID DREDGE.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL MCCARL TO THE SECRETARY OF COMMERCE, SEPTEMBER 27, 1934:

THERE HAS BEEN RECEIVED YOUR LETTER OF AUGUST 31, 1934, REQUESTING FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF DECISION OF THIS OFFICE DATED AUGUST 13, 1934, WHEREIN IT WAS HELD UPON THE FACTS PRESENTED IN YOUR SUBMISSION OF JULY 13, 1934, THAT THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD MERCHANT FLEET CORPORATION'S VESSEL, LIBERATOR, WAS LIABLE FOR THE DAMAGES SUSTAINED IN A COLLISION WITH THE WAR DEPARTMENT'S DREDGE, COLONEL A. M. MILLER, WHICH OCCURRED ON MAY 15, 1931, IN THE TEXAS CITY SHIP CHANNEL AND RESULTED IN THE SINKING OF SAID DREDGE.

WITH YOUR REQUEST FOR REVIEW YOU HAVE TRANSMITTED A COPY OF THE FORM OF POLICY OF INSURANCE CARRIED ON THE SAID VESSEL LIBERATOR WITH THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD'S GENERAL INSURANCE FUND, FROM WHICH IT APPEARS THAT SAID VESSEL WAS INSURED AGAINST LOSS OR DAMAGE CAUSED BY COLLISION WITH ANOTHER VESSEL UNDER THE CONDITIONS THEREIN STATED. ACCORDINGLY, IT WOULD SEEM THAT THE LOSS OR DAMAGE WHICH IS REQUIRED TO BE PAID BY YOUR DEPARTMENT ON ACCOUNT OF SAID COLLISION IS PROTECTED BY SAID INSURANCE POLICY.

IN THE REQUEST FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF THIS MATTER, IT HAS BEEN URGED THAT IN VIEW OF THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 3678, REVISED STATUTES, AND DECISIONS OF THE ACCOUNTING OFFICERS OF THE UNITED STATES THEREUNDER, SOME OF WHICH YOU HAVE CITED, THERE IS NO LEGAL LIABILITY AGAINST THE SHIPPING BOARD BUREAU (SUCCESSOR TO THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD), DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, AS OWNER OF SAID VESSEL, LIBERATOR, FOR THE LOSS OR DAMAGE SUSTAINED BY THE WAR DEPARTMENT'S DREDGE, COLONEL A. M. MILLER, BY REASON OF THE COLLISION OF MAY 15, 1931, AND FOR WHICH COLLISION SAID VESSEL, LIBERATOR, IS ADMITTED TO HAVE BEEN RESPONSIBLE.

WHILE THERE ARE MANY DECISIONS OF THIS OFFICE, IN ADDITION TO THOSE YOU CITE, PROHIBITING PAYMENT OF DAMAGES TO ONE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT FROM ANOTHER GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT, RESULTING FROM COLLISIONS OF VESSELS OPERATED BY EACH OF SAID DEPARTMENTS, SUCH DECISIONS ARE NOT APPLICABLE TO THE INSTANT MATTER, INASMUCH AS IN THOSE CASES SAID VESSELS WERE ENGAGED ONLY ON GOVERNMENT BUSINESS IN ITS SOVEREIGN CAPACITY, AND THE APPROPRIATIONS OF THE RESPONSIBLE DEPARTMENTS WERE IN TERMS AVAILABLE ONLY FOR REPAIRS TO EACH DEPARTMENT'S OWN VESSELS. UNDER SUCH CIRCUMSTANCES SECTION 3678, REVISED STATUTES, WHICH REQUIRES APPROPRIATED MONEYS TO BE APPLIED SOLELY TO THE OBJECTS FOR WHICH THEY ARE MADE, OPERATED TO PREVENT THE USE OF SAID APPROPRIATIONS FOR DAMAGES TO VESSELS OF OTHER DEPARTMENTS WHEN THE DEPARTMENT OPERATING THE DAMAGED VESSEL HAD AN APPROPRIATION AVAILABLE FOR THE REPAIR OF SAME, ON THE THEORY THAT THERE CAN BE NO REIMBURSEMENT TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR THE DAMAGES TO OR LOSS OF ITS OWN PROPERTY. HOWEVER, IN THE INSTANT MATTER, SAID SECTION 3678, REVISED STATUTES, IS INAPPLICABLE, INASMUCH AS THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD MERCHANT FLEET CORPORATION VESSELS ARE MERCHANT VESSELS ENGAGED AS COMMON CARRIERS BY WATER IN THE FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND AS SUCH THE UNITED STATES, AS OWNER THEREOF, IS LIABLE FOR AN ACTIONABLE INJURY RESULTING FROM THE OPERATION OF SAID VESSELS. RECOGNIZING SUCH LIABILITY, THE CONGRESS HAS AUTHORIZED THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD TO OBTAIN PROPERTY DAMAGE, LIABILITY, COLLISION, AND OTHER FORMS OF INSURANCE COMMONLY CARRIED BY COMMERCIAL CORPORATIONS ENGAGED IN THE SHIPPING BUSINESS, IN ORDER THAT THE UNITED STATES MIGHT BE PROTECTED AGAINST SUCH LOSS.

UNDER AUTHORIZATION OF THE SHIPPING ACT OF 1916, 39 STAT. 728, AND THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1920, 41 STAT. 988, AND AMENDMENTS THERETO, THE GOVERNMENT-OWNED MERCHANT VESSELS ENGAGED AS COMMON CARRIERS BY WATER IN THE FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC COMMERCE OF THE UNITED STATES ARE CONTROLLED, MAINTAINED, AND OPERATED BY THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD BUREAU, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE (SUCCEESSOR TO THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD), THROUGH THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD MERCHANT FLEET CORPORATION, AND OTHER AGENCIES; UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF SUCH ACTS, GOVERNMENT-OPERATED VESSELS EMPLOYED SOLELY AS SUCH MERCHANT VESSELS ARE SUBJECT TO ALL LIENS, REGULATIONS AND LIABILITIES APPLICABLE TO MERCHANT VESSELS PRIVATELY OWNED AND, WITHOUT QUESTION, THE UNITED STATES WOULD BE ENTITLED TO THE LOSS SUSTAINED IN THIS CASE HAD THE LIBERATOR BEEN PRIVATELY OWNED AND OPERATED. BY THE GENERAL ADMIRALTY LAW OF THE UNITED STATES, SUBJECT TO THE EXEMPTION FROM PROCESS POSSESSED BY THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, A SHIP BY WHOMSOEVER OWNED OR NAVIGATED IS LIABLE FOR AN ACTIONABLE INJURY RESULTING FROM THE NEGLIGENCE OF THE MASTER AND/OR CREW OF SUCH VESSEL. WORKMAN V. NEW YORK, ETC., 179 U.S. 552.

THE APPROPRIATIONS FOR THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD, UNDER THE TITLE "UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD SHIPPING FUND" FOR THE FISCAL YEAR 1931 (46 STAT. 244) PROVIDED THAT THE FUNDS THEREIN APPROPRIATED WERE TO BE USED FOR THE EXPENSES OF THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD MERCHANT FLEET CORPORATION, AS THEREIN STATED, WHICH INCLUDED EXPENDITURES FOR "MISCELLANEOUS ADJUSTMENTS, LOSSES DUE TO THE MAINTENANCE AND OPERATION OF SHIPS," "FOR THE PAYMENT OF PREMIUM FOR LIABILITY, FIRE, THEFT, PROPERTY DAMAGE, AND COLLISION INSURANCE AND OTHER FORMS OF INSURANCE, INCLUDING SCHEDULE AND FIDELITY BONDS, COMMONLY CARRIED BY COMMERCIAL CORPORATIONS ENGAGED IN THE SAME OR A SIMILAR BUSINESS," AND "FOR CARRYING OUT THE PROVISIONS OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1920, AND AMENDMENTS THERETO.'

AN APPROPRIATION PROPERLY IS CHARGEABLE WITH ALL EXPENSES NECESSARY TO ACCOMPLISH THE OBJECT FOR WHICH MADE UNLESS PARTICULAR ITEMS OF EXPENSE ARE SPECIFICALLY PROVIDED FOR BY SOME OTHER APPROPRIATION OR ARE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 4 COMP. GEN. 24. THE APPROPRIATION FOR THE "UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD SHIPPING FUND" IS MADE AVAILABLE FOR THE OPERATION OF THE GOVERNMENT'S MERCHANT MARINE VESSELS, WHICH NECESSARILY INCLUDES, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THE PAYMENT OF DAMAGES FOR ACTIONABLE INJURY RESULTING FROM THE OPERATION THEREOF.

IN VIEW OF THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES DISCLOSED BY THE RECORD, IT WOULD APPEAR, THEREFORE, THAT THE SHIPPING BOARD BUREAU'S VESSEL LIBERATOR IS LIABLE FOR THE ACTIONABLE INJURIES TO THE WAR DEPARTMENT'S DREDGE COLONEL A. M. MILLER RESULTING FROM THE COLLISION OF MAY 15, 1931, AND FOR WHICH COLLISION THE VESSEL LIBERATOR WAS RESPONSIBLE. SEE DECISION OF MAY 19, 1931, A-36441.

THE USE OF SAID APPROPRIATION, AS AUTHORIZED HEREIN, IS SIMPLY AN ADJUSTMENT OF THE MATTER WITH THE WAR DEPARTMENT AND IS IN NO MANNER DETERMINATIVE OF ANY RIGHTS OF THE UNITED STATES, AS OWNER OF THE VESSEL LIBERATOR, OR OF THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD, AND ITS SUCCESSOR, THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD BUREAU, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, OR OF THE UNITED STATES SHIPPING BOARD MERCHANT FLEET CORPORATION, AS MANAGER AND OPERATOR OF SAID VESSEL, AGAINST THE UNDERWRITERS UNDER THE POLICY OR POLICIES OF INSURANCE CARRIED THEREON.

ACCORDINGLY, UPON FURTHER CONSIDERATION THE DECISION OF AUGUST 13, 1934, MUST BE AND IS AFFIRMED.