B-131658, MAY 2, 1957

B-131658: May 2, 1957

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ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OVERSEAS OR TO OR FROM ANY OF THE POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT HIS PERSONAL EFFECTS ON SHIPS REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES WHERE SUCH SHIPS ARE AVAILABLE UNLESS THE NECESSITY OF HIS MISSION REQUIRES THE USE OF A SHIP UNDER A FOREIGN FLAG: PROVIDED. THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE HAVE TURNED TO CERTAIN SYMBOLS OF THEIR PAST. ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL OF WHICH IS THE DUTCH MERCHANT MARINE. THEIR PRIDE IN THEIR MERCHANT FLEET IS INTENSE. IT IS A FACTOR OF MAJOR POLITICAL IMPORTANCE WHICH MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN UNITED STATES-DUTCH RELATIONS. THE DUTCH ATTITUDE IS THAT THROUGH THEIR MERCHANT FLEET THEY ARE ABLE TO MAINTAIN SOME OF THEIR FORMER PRESTIGE AND SIGNIFICANCE AS A WORLD POWER.

B-131658, MAY 2, 1957

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE STATE:

ON APRIL 25, 1957, THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY-CONTROLLER, MR. CARPENTER, REQUESTED OUR ADVANCE APPROVAL FOR THE USE OF THE FOREIGN FLAG VESSEL "S.S. NIEUW AMSTERDAM," HOLLAND-AMERICAN LINES, BY AMBASSADOR H. FREEMAN MATTHEWS, DEPARTING ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS, ON JUNE 11, 1957, FOR NEW YORK, NEW YORK, AND THE USE OF THE FOREIGN FLAG VESSEL "S.S. STATENDAM," ALSO OF THE HOLLAND-AMERICAN LINES, BY AMBASSADOR DESIGNATE PHILIP YOUNG, DEPARTING NEW YORK JUNE 7, 1957, FOR ROTTERDAM.

SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, 49 STAT. 2015, PROVIDES AS FOLLOWS:

"SEC. 901. ANY OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE OF THE UNITED STATES TRAVELING ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS OVERSEAS OR TO OR FROM ANY OF THE POSSESSIONS OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL TRAVEL AND TRANSPORT HIS PERSONAL EFFECTS ON SHIPS REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES WHERE SUCH SHIPS ARE AVAILABLE UNLESS THE NECESSITY OF HIS MISSION REQUIRES THE USE OF A SHIP UNDER A FOREIGN FLAG: PROVIDED, THAT THE COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES SHALL NOT CREDIT ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL OR SHIPPING EXPENSES INCURRED ON A FOREIGN SHIP IN THE ABSENCE OF SATISFACTORY PROOF OF THE NECESSITY THEREFOR.'

MR. CARPENTER SAYS THAT IN THE SHORT TIME OF APPROXIMATELY TWENTY YEARS, THE NETHERLANDS HAS BEEN REDUCED FROM THE STATUS OF AN IMPORTANT POWER WITH EXTENSIVE COLONIAL INTERESTS, PARTICULARLY IN THE FAR EAST, TO ONE OF MORE MODEST DIMENSIONS CONFINED IN THE MAIN TO ITS RESTRICTED TERRITORY ON THE CONTINENT OF EUROPE. TO COMPENSATE, AT LEAST IN PART, FOR THIS SHRINKAGE, THE DUTCH GOVERNMENT AND PEOPLE HAVE TURNED TO CERTAIN SYMBOLS OF THEIR PAST, ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL OF WHICH IS THE DUTCH MERCHANT MARINE. THEIR PRIDE IN THEIR MERCHANT FLEET IS INTENSE. IT IS A FACTOR OF MAJOR POLITICAL IMPORTANCE WHICH MUST BE TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT IN UNITED STATES-DUTCH RELATIONS. THE DUTCH ATTITUDE IS THAT THROUGH THEIR MERCHANT FLEET THEY ARE ABLE TO MAINTAIN SOME OF THEIR FORMER PRESTIGE AND SIGNIFICANCE AS A WORLD POWER. THE PASSENGER VESSELS OF THIS FLEET DOCK IN ROTTERDAM, WHICH IN ITSELF IS OF TWO-FOLD SIGNIFICANCE TO THE DUTCH NATION. FIRST, IT IS STATED, ROTTERDAM IS THE SYMBOL OF DUTCH RECOVERY WITH SUBSTANTIAL AMERICAN ASSISTANCE FROM THE DEVASTATION OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR. SECOND, ROTTERDAM IS THE TANGIBLE LINK WITH AMERICAN FORCES IN GERMANY AND AN EXAMPLE OF THE COOPERATIVE CHARACTER OF THE NATO EFFORT, SINCE SUPPLIES FOR AMERICAN FORCES IN GERMANY ARE NOW, IN PART, RECEIVED THROUGH THIS PORT. IT IS EXPECTED THAT THESE TRANSSHIPMENT ARRANGEMENTS, WHICH WERE ESTABLISHED ABOUT SIX MONTHS AGO, WILL BE FURTHER EXPANDED.

MR. CARPENTER ALSO SAYS THAT THE USE OF DUTCH SHIPS BY AMBASSADOR MATTHEWS AND AMBASSADOR DESIGNATE YOUNG WOULD BE WIDELY PUBLICIZED IN THE NETHERLANDS AND WOULD CONTRIBUTE TO THE IMPROVEMENT OF THE UNITED STATES- DUTCH RELATIONS. THE EFFECT WOULD BE FELT BOTH AMONG THE DUTCH PEOPLE IN GENERAL, SO MANY OF WHOM ARE DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY CONNECTED WITH DUTCH SHIPPING ENTERPRISE, AND IN OFFICIAL CIRCLES. THIS USE WOULD HAVE A SUBSTANTIAL IMPACT ON DUTCH OPINION, THUS CONTRIBUTING TO AN IMPROVEMENT IN OUR RELATIONS WITH THE NETHERLANDS WHICH HAS PROVED TO BE A VALUABLE AND LOYAL NATO ALLY.

IT IS FURTHER STATED THAT THIS CONTRIBUTION TO THE IMPROVEMENT OF UNITED STATES-DUTCH RELATIONS WOULD BE PARTICULARLY USEFUL AT THIS TIME. DURING RECENT MONTHS, THERE HAVE BEEN A NUMBER OF PROBLEMS PARTICULARLY THOSE CONNECTED WITH INDONESIA, IN WHICH OUR GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN LED TO TAKE POSITIONS WHICH THE DUTCH HAVE CONSIDERED INIMICAL TO THEIR INTERESTS. A RESULT, THERE HAS BEEN A DETERIORATION IN THE ATMOSPHERE OF UNITED STATES-DUTCH RELATIONS.

SECTION 101 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, 49 STAT. 1985, DECLARES IT "TO BE THE POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES TO FOSTER THE DEVELOPMENT AND ENCOURAGE THE MAINTENANCE" OF THE AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE. FURTHERANCE OF SUCH POLICY THE ACT AUTHORIZES THE PAYMENT OF OPERATING- DIFFERENTIAL SUBSIDIES AND CONSTRUCTION-DIFFERENTIAL SUBSIDIES AND THE ALLOWANCE OF CREDIT FOR THE TRADE-IN OF OBSOLETE VESSELS, AS WELL AS PLACING RESTRICTIONS ON THE USE OF FOREIGN FLAG VESSELS IN SECTION 901. WE HAVE AUTHORIZED THE USE OF FOREIGN FLAG VESSELS WHERE THE UNAVAILABILITY OF AMERICAN VESSELS WOULD SERIOUSLY INTERFERE WITH OR PREVENT THE PERFORMANCE OF OFFICIAL BUSINESS. WHERE, HOWEVER, AS HERE, AMERICAN VESSELS ARE IN FACT AVAILABLE TO FURNISH THE TRANSPORTATION SERVICE REQUIRED, WE DO NOT VIEW SECTION 901 AS PERMITTING THE USE OF FOREIGN VESSELS, EVEN THOUGH SUCH USE WOULD BENEFIT OUR RELATIONS WITH A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT. THIS IS ESPECIALLY TRUE WHERE SUCH USE OF FOREIGN VESSELS HAS THE EFFECT OF DELIBERATELY AIDING A FOREIGN SHIPPING LINE WHICH IS IN ACTIVE COMPETITION WITH OUR AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE.

THE POLITICAL OR DIPLOMATIC REASONS STATED IN THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER AS A BASIS FOR PERMITTING AN EXCEPTION IN THIS CASE COULD BE ADVANCED WITH REGARD TO THE TRAVEL OF ANY U.S. GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE TO OR FROM POSTS IN THE NETHERLANDS BUT WE CANNOT DISREGARD THE FACT THAT THE STATUTE AUTHORIZES AN EXCEPTION ONLY IN SPECIAL CASES WHERE THE NECESSITY OF THE PARTICULAR EMPLOYEE'S MISSION REQUIRES THE USE OF A SHIP UNDER A FOREIGN FLAG.

WE SHOULD LIKE TO ADD THAT A SIDE EFFECT OF THE FOREIGN POLICY OUTLINED IN THE ASSISTANT SECRETARY'S LETTER IS THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A POLICY REGARDING THE NETHERLANDS FLAG VESSELS WHICH SEEMS TO BE IN DIRECT CONFLICT WITH THE STATUTORY POLICY CONCERNING AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS ESTABLISHED BY THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1936. IN VIEW OF THAT SITUATION WE ARE SURE YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY IN THIS INSTANCE WE MUST BE GUIDED BY THE LANGUAGE OF THE STATUTE AS CONSISTENTLY CONSTRUED, RATHER THAN BY THE CONSIDERATIONS URGED BY MR. CARPENTER. ACCORDINGLY, THE JUSTIFICATION FOR THE USE OF FOREIGN VESSELS IN THIS CASE HAS NOT BEEN ESTABLISHED, AND THE USE OF APPROPRIATED FUNDS FOR THE EXPENSES WHICH WOULD BE INCURRED THEREBY IS NOT AUTHORIZED.