B-140108, AUG. 13, 1959

B-140108: Aug 13, 1959

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YOU SAY THAT THERE ARE NO VESSELS UNDER UNITED STATES REGISTRY DEPARTING MEXICO FOR EUROPE. THE MOST DIRECT ROUTE VIA SURFACE VESSEL FROM MEXICO TO EUROPE IS ON BOARD A VESSEL OF THE "COMPANIA TRANS ATLANTICA ESPANOLA" LINES. WHICH IS NOT REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES AND HAS THE FOLLOWING SCHEDULE: TABLE DEP: VERACRUZ. IT APPEARS THAT IN ORDER TO USE AN AMERICAN VESSEL IT WILL BE NECESSARY FOR MRS. PROVIDES: "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.

B-140108, AUG. 13, 1959

TO CAPTAIN J. V. HEIMARK, U.S. NAVAL ATTACHE, UNITED STATES EMBASSY, MEXICO CITY:

ON JUNE 19, 1959, YOU REQUESTED AUTHORITY TO PURCHASE TRANSPORTATION FOR MRS. ANITA PINI, A CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE TRANSFERRING FROM YOUR OFFICE TO THE OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES NAVAL ATTACHE IN BONN, GERMANY, ON A FOREIGN FLAG VESSEL INSTEAD OF ON A SHIP OF UNITED STATES REGISTRY.

YOU SAY THAT THERE ARE NO VESSELS UNDER UNITED STATES REGISTRY DEPARTING MEXICO FOR EUROPE. YOUR LETTER FURTHER READS:

"2. MRS. PINI DOES NOT DESIRE TO TAKE LEAVE IN THE UNITED STATES ENROUTE TO BONN, GERMANY, BUT DESIRES TO TAKE HER LEAVE OUTSIDE THE UNITED STATES WHILE ENROUTE. SHE HAS STATED THAT SHE PREFERS SURFACE VESSEL IN LIEU OF AIR TRANSPORTATION * * *.

"3. THE MOST DIRECT ROUTE VIA SURFACE VESSEL FROM MEXICO TO EUROPE IS ON BOARD A VESSEL OF THE "COMPANIA TRANS ATLANTICA ESPANOLA" LINES, WHICH IS NOT REGISTERED UNDER THE LAWS OF THE UNITED STATES AND HAS THE FOLLOWING SCHEDULE:

TABLE

DEP: VERACRUZ, MEXICO 2-3 OCT 1959

ARR: HAVANA, CUBA 5 OCT 1959

DEP: HAVANA, CUBA 8 OCT 1959

ARR: NEW YORK, NEW YORK 11 OCT 1959

DEP: NEW YORK, NEW YORK 16 OCT 1959

ARR: BILBAO, SPAIN 26 OCT 1959

TRAVEL FROM BILBAO, SPAIN TO BONN, GERMANY TO BE VIA RAIL.'

THUS, IT APPEARS THAT IN ORDER TO USE AN AMERICAN VESSEL IT WILL BE NECESSARY FOR MRS. PINI TO TRAVEL TO A PORT OUTSIDE OF MEXICO AND TRANSSHIP AT THAT POINT TO AN AMERICAN VESSEL.

SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT OF 1936, 49 STAT. 2015, 46 U.S.C. 1241, PROVIDES:

"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 REFOR.'

IN 31 COMP. GEN. 351, WE HELD IN PART THAT "* * * WHERE A ROUTING DESIGNED TO UTILIZE AN AMERICAN VESSEL INVOLVES CONSIDERABLE LAND TRAVEL OR TRANSPORTATION ON A FOREIGN VESSEL FOR A PART OF THE JOURNEY WITH A CONSEQUENT TRANSSHIPMENT TO AN AMERICAN VESSEL AT EXCESSIVE EXTRA COST AND DELAY, FOREIGN VESSELS FURNISHING DIRECT TRANSPORTATION BETWEEN THE PORT OF ORIGIN OF THE TRAVEL AND THE PORT OF DESTINATION GENERALLY MAY BE USED.' ELABORATING ON THAT POINT IN 36 COMP. GEN. 53, WE SAID:

"WHILE UNDER 31 COMP. GEN. 351, FOREIGN VESSELS FURNISHING DIRECT SERVICE MAY BE USED GENERALLY WHERE THE PORT OF ORIGIN OF THE OCEAN TRAVEL AND THE PORT OF DESTINATION ARE NOT BOTH SERVED BY AMERICAN VESSELS, THERE IS THE EXPLICIT REQUIREMENT THAT A ROUTING DESIGNED TO UTILIZE AN AMERICAN SHIP INVOLVES TRANSSHIPMENT "AT EXCESSIVE EXTRA COST AND DELAY.' * * * HAVING IN MIND THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF SECTION 901, MERE INCONVENIENCE TO THE TRAVELER, REASONABLE DELAYS AND MINOR ECONOMIES ARE NOT FACTORS WHICH NORMALLY WOULD JUSTIFY THE USE OF FOREIGN VESSELS OVER THOSE OPERATING UNDER THE AMERICAN FLAG. * * *"

WE HELD FURTHER IN THAT DECISION THAT "AS A GENERAL RULE * * * EMPLOYEES WHOSE OFFICIAL TRAVEL ORIGINATES OR TERMINATES AT A PORT SERVICED BY FOREIGN VESSELS ARE NOT REQUIRED TO TRANSSHIP IN ORDER TO UTILIZE AMERICAN VESSELS.' WE EMPHASIZED, HOWEVER, THAT SUCH RULE WOULD NOT APPLY TO EMPLOYEES WHOSE TRAVEL BEGAN AT AN INLAND POINT NECESSITATING TRANSSHIPMENT IN ANY EVENT. IN MRS. PINI'S CASE, HER PROPOSED TRAVEL WOULD REQUIRE TRANSSHIPMENT AT VERA CRUZ AND, IF THE FOREIGN FLAG VESSEL WAS USED, AGAIN AT BILBAO, SPAIN. HENCE, THE GENERAL RULE QUOTED ABOVE MAY NOT BE APPLIED TO HER TRAVEL.

YOUR LETTER SHOWS THAT THE VESSEL WHICH MRS. PINI WOULD PREFER TO USE WILL STOP IN NEW YORK FOR ABOUT FIVE DAYS. SINCE SEVERAL AMERICAN LINES PROVIDE REGULAR SAILINGS FROM NEW YORK TO PORTS IN EUROPE, WE MUST CONCLUDE THAT, NOTWITHSTANDING A TRANSSHIPMENT WOULD BE REQUIRED THERE, THE USE OF A FOREIGN FLAG SHIP FROM NEW YORK TO EUROPE IS NOT AUTHORIZED UNDER SECTION 901 IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES. REGARDING MARINE SURFACE TRANSPORTATION FROM VERA CRUZ TO NEW YORK, THERE WOULD BE NO OBJECTION TO THE USE OF A FOREIGN FLAG VESSEL UNLESS A PASSENGER VESSEL OF AMERICAN REGISTRY IS AVAILABLE AT THE TIME.

IN REACHING THIS CONCLUSION WE ASSUME THAT ACCOMMODATIONS WILL BE AVAILABLE UPON A VESSEL OF AMERICAN REGISTRY, SAILING FROM NEW YORK ON APPROXIMATELY THE SAME DATE AS THE VESSEL OF FOREIGN REGISTRY TO WHICH YOU REFER.