B-7185, NOVEMBER 28, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 529

B-7185: Nov 28, 1939

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AT THE TIME IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED SUCH MOVEMENTS SHOULD BE MADE. IT WILL BE REGARDED. THAT AMERICAN VESSELS ARE NOT AVAILABLE. THE DETERMINATION OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE AS TO THE MOST PRACTICABLE ROUTE IN ANY SUCH CASE WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE. 1939: I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 15. AS FOLLOWS: THIS DEPARTMENT IS FACED WITH A VERY GRAVE SITUATION REGARDING TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES TO AND FROM EUROPEAN COUNTRIES FOR ITS FOREIGN SERVICE PERSONNEL. HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION OF NOVEMBER 4. ITS VESSELS WILL BE USED FOR SUCH TRANSFERS. THIS IS PARTICULARLY SO WHEN. AS IS LIKELY OFTEN TO BE THE CASE DURING THE WAR.

B-7185, NOVEMBER 28, 1939, 19 COMP. GEN. 529

TRANSPORTATION - VESSELS - FOREIGN - DETERMINATION AS TO NONAVAILABILITY OF AMERICAN VESSELS AND MOST PRACTICABLE ROUTES DURING WAR EMERGENCY IN ALL CASES IN WHICH, DUE TO EXISTING WAR CONDITION, TRANSPORTATION ON AMERICAN VESSELS CANNOT BE OBTAINED FOR THE MOVEMENT, TO POSTS IN EUROPE, OF PERSONNEL OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT, THEIR FAMILIES AND EFFECTS, AT THE TIME IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED SUCH MOVEMENTS SHOULD BE MADE, IT WILL BE REGARDED, IN APPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, 49 STAT. 2015, DURING THE PERIOD THE PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION OF NOVEMBER 4, 1939, REMAINS IN FORCE, THAT AMERICAN VESSELS ARE NOT AVAILABLE, AND THE DETERMINATION OF THE SECRETARY OF STATE AS TO THE MOST PRACTICABLE ROUTE IN ANY SUCH CASE WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE REGISTRY OF THE VESSEL OR VESSELS USED. 19 COMP. GEN. 379, AMPLIFIED.

COMPTROLLER GENERAL BROWN TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE, NOVEMBER 28, 1939:

I HAVE YOUR LETTER OF NOVEMBER 15, 1939, AS FOLLOWS:

THIS DEPARTMENT IS FACED WITH A VERY GRAVE SITUATION REGARDING TRANSPORTATION FACILITIES TO AND FROM EUROPEAN COUNTRIES FOR ITS FOREIGN SERVICE PERSONNEL. YOUR DECISION B-6017 OF SEPTEMBER 16, 1939, HAS BEEN OF GREAT ASSISTANCE IN FACILITATING MOVEMENTS OF OUR PERSONNEL OUT OF EUROPE, AND WE FIND IT NECESSARY TO EXERCISE SIMILARLY BROAD DISCRETION IN THE MATTER OF TRAVEL TO EUROPEAN POSTS.

AS YOU KNOW, ALL SAILINGS OF AMERICAN PASSENGER VESSELS PLYING BETWEEN THE UNITED STATES AND EUROPE WITH THE EXCEPTION OF THOSE OPERATED BY THE AMERICAN EXPORT LINE TO MEDITERRANEAN PORTS, WITH FIRST CALL AT NAPLES, HAVE BEEN SUSPENDED AS A CONSEQUENCE OF THE PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION OF NOVEMBER 4, 1939. VESSELS OF THE EXPORT LINE SERVE OUR PURPOSE ADMIRABLY FOR TRANSFERS TO POSTS SITUATED ON OR NEAR THE MEDITERRANEAN WITH THE EXCEPTION OF SPANISH AND FRENCH POSTS, AND ITS VESSELS WILL BE USED FOR SUCH TRANSFERS. THEY DO NOT, HOWEVER, OFFER ADEQUATE FACILITIES FOR TRANSPORTATION OF OUR PERSONNEL TO POSTS IN NORTHERN AND WESTERN EUROPE AND THE BRITISH ISLES; AND THIS IS PARTICULARLY SO WHEN, AS IS LIKELY OFTEN TO BE THE CASE DURING THE WAR, THE TIME ELEMENT IS IMPORTANT.

IN PURSUANCE OF THOSE PROVISIONS OF THE LAW AND OF THE PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION OF NOVEMBER 4, 1939, THE SECRETARY ESTABLISHED THE FOLLOWING REGULATIONS:

" AMERICAN DIPLOMATIC AND CONSULAR OFFICERS AND THEIR FAMILIES, MEMBERS OF THEIR STAFFS AND THEIR FAMILIES, AND AMERICAN MILITARY AND NAVAL OFFICERS AND PERSONNEL AND THEIR FAMILIES MAY TRAVEL PURSUANT TO ORDERS ON VESSELS OF FRANCE; GERMANY; POLAND; OR THE UNITED KINGDOM; INDIA; AUSTRALIA; CANADA; NEW ZEALAND AND THE UNION OF SOUTH AFRICA IF THE PUBLIC SERVICE REQUIRES.'

IN NORMAL TIMES IN THE PAST IT HAS BEEN THE POLICY OF THIS DEPARTMENT TO ADHERE STRICTLY TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT AND SUCH POLICY WILL CONTINUE TO BE FOLLOWED IN THE FUTURE. WITH RESPECT TO THE QUESTION OF SAFETY, UNDOUBTEDLY AMERICAN VESSELS ARE THE SAFEST AND WILL BE USED WHENEVER POSSIBLE. HOWEVER, AT THIS TIME WHEN OCEAN TRANSPORTATION IS HAZARDOUS AND SCHEDULED SAILINGS ARE UNCERTAIN, I AM SURE YOU WILL AGREE WITH ME THAT LIVES OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES AND MEMBERS OF THEIR FAMILIES PROCEEDING TO EUROPEAN POSTS SHOULD BE PROTECTED IN EVERY WAY POSSIBLE, AND WITH A VIEW TO SEEING THAT EVERY PRECAUTION IS TAKEN TOWARD THAT END, YOU WILL APPRECIATE THE IMPORTANCE OF AUTHORIZING TRAVEL TO POSTS IN EUROPE BY THE MOST PRACTICABLE ROUTE, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE REGISTRY OF THE VESSEL, OR VESSELS USED, PARTICULARLY AS THERE IS NO QUESTION AS TO THE NON-AVAILABILITY OF AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS TO LARGE AREAS IN WESTERN EUROPE, WHILE THE PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION OF NOVEMBER 4, 1939, REMAINS IN FORCE.

YOUR DECISION IS BEING REQUESTED AT THIS TIME SO THAT THERE WILL BE A COMPLETE UNDERSTANDING BETWEEN THE GENERAL ACCOUNTING OFFICE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE REGARDING THIS MATTER.

IN THE CITED DECISION OF SEPTEMBER 16, 1939, B-6017, 19 COMP. GEN. 379, INVOLVING, BECAUSE OF WAR CONDITIONS IN EUROPE, THE USE OF VESSELS OF FOREIGN REGISTRY IN THE MOVEMENTS OF PERSONNEL OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT OUT OF EUROPE, IT WAS HELD AS FOLLOWS:

IN ALL CASES IN WHICH, DUE TO THE EXISTING WAR CONDITION IN EUROPE, TRANSPORTATION ON AMERICAN VESSELS CANNOT BE OBTAINED FOR THE MOVEMENT OF OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES UNDER YOUR DEPARTMENT, THEIR FAMILIES AND EFFECTS, AT THE TIME IT IS ADMINISTRATIVELY DETERMINED SUCH MOVEMENTS SHOULD BE MADE, IT WILL BE REGARDED, IN APPLYING THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, 49 STAT. 2015, THAT AMERICAN VESSELS ARE NOT AVAILABLE. IN SUCH CASES THE NECESSARY TRANSPORTATION MAY BE OBTAINED BY THE MOST PRACTICABLE ROUTE, IRRESPECTIVE OF THE REGISTRY OF THE VESSEL OR VESSELS USED. VOUCHERS COVERING PAYMENT FOR SUCH TRANSPORTATION SHOULD, OF COURSE, BE ACCOMPANIED BY AN ADMINISTRATIVE STATEMENT OF THE ESSENTIAL FACTS INVOLVED IN EACH CASE.

IN VIEW OF THE CURTAILMENT OF THE SAILINGS OF AMERICAN VESSELS TO EUROPEAN POINTS DUE TO THE PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION OF NOVEMBER 4, 1939, YOU ARE ADVISED THAT WHAT WAS STATED IN THE DECISION ABOVE QUOTED APPLIES WITH EQUAL FORCE TO THE MOVEMENT OF PERSONNEL OF THE STATE DEPARTMENT TO POSTS IN EUROPE DURING THE PERIOD THE CITED PRESIDENT'S PROCLAMATION REMAINS IN FORCE. YOUR DETERMINATION AS TO WHAT IS THE MOST PRACTICABLE ROUTE IN ANY SUCH CASE WILL NOT BE QUESTIONED BY THIS OFFICE.