B-128623, MARCH 16, 1960, 39 COMP. GEN. 642

B-128623: Mar 16, 1960

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IS NOT LIMITED TO THE USE OF PASSENGER VESSELS BUT MAY BE INVOKED FOR TRAVEL BY FREIGHTERS. WHICH HAVE LIMITED PASSENGER ACCOMMODATIONS. SO THAT AN EMPLOYEE WHO WANTS TO USE A FOREIGN FREIGHTER ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL EITHER IN LIEU OF AN AMERICAN PASSENGER VESSEL OR IN LIEU OF AN AMERICAN FREIGHTER WHEN THAT IS THE ONLY MEANS OF SEA TRAVEL COMES WITHIN THE RESTRICTION AND IS PRECLUDED FROM RECEIVING ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL ON THE FOREIGN FREIGHTER. A DETERMINATION THAT NO AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS ARE AVAILABLE FOR SUCH TRAVEL FOR THE PURPOSES OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT. THAT EMPLOYEES USE AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL IS NOT LIMITED TO PASSENGER VESSELS. YOU SAY THAT YOUR PRACTICE HAS BEEN TO REFUSE AUTHORIZATION FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL ON ANY FOREIGN FLAG VESSEL UNLESS A UNITED STATES PASSENGER VESSEL IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR TRANSPORTATION TO THE EMPLOYEE'S DESTINATION.

B-128623, MARCH 16, 1960, 39 COMP. GEN. 642

CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - TRAVEL EXPENSES - FOREIGN FLAG VESSELS - FREIGHTERS WITH LIMITED PASSENGER ACCOMMODATIONS THE REQUIREMENT FOR THE USE OF AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS BY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES FOR TRAVEL ON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IN SECTION 901, MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, IS NOT LIMITED TO THE USE OF PASSENGER VESSELS BUT MAY BE INVOKED FOR TRAVEL BY FREIGHTERS, WHICH HAVE LIMITED PASSENGER ACCOMMODATIONS, SO THAT AN EMPLOYEE WHO WANTS TO USE A FOREIGN FREIGHTER ON OFFICIAL TRAVEL EITHER IN LIEU OF AN AMERICAN PASSENGER VESSEL OR IN LIEU OF AN AMERICAN FREIGHTER WHEN THAT IS THE ONLY MEANS OF SEA TRAVEL COMES WITHIN THE RESTRICTION AND IS PRECLUDED FROM RECEIVING ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL ON THE FOREIGN FREIGHTER. IF THE USE OF FOREIGN FREIGHTERS BETWEEN THE CANAL ZONE AND MIAMI, FLORIDA, FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TO AND FROM THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES RESULTS IN A SUBSTANTIAL SAVINGS IN TIME AND FUNDS OVER THE USE OF SIMILAR AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS WHICH SAIL TO NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, AND TO NEW YORK CITY, A DETERMINATION THAT NO AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS ARE AVAILABLE FOR SUCH TRAVEL FOR THE PURPOSES OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, MAY BE JUSTIFIED. IF THE USE OF FOREIGN FREIGHTERS BETWEEN THE CANAL ZONE AND MIAMI, FLORIDA FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL OF GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES TO AND FROM THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES WOULD RESULT IN TRAVEL BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE, ALLOWANCE OF THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION ON THE FOREIGN FREIGHTERS WOULD DEPEND UPON THE AVAILABILITY OF AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS, EITHER PASSENGER OR FREIGHT, ON THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE SINCE THE REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, THAT EMPLOYEES USE AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL IS NOT LIMITED TO PASSENGER VESSELS.

TO THE GOVERNOR OF THE CANAL ZONE, MARCH 16, 1960:

ON FEBRUARY 29, 1960, YOU REQUESTED OUR DECISION REGARDING THE EFFECT OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, 49 STAT. 2015, 46 U.S.C. 1241, UPON THE TRAVEL OF EMPLOYEES BETWEEN THE CANAL ZONE AND THE UNITED STATES UNDER THE ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSE ACT OF 1946, AS AMENDED, 68 STAT. 1008, 5 U.S.C. 73B-3.

YOU SAY THAT YOUR PRACTICE HAS BEEN TO REFUSE AUTHORIZATION FOR OFFICIAL TRAVEL ON ANY FOREIGN FLAG VESSEL UNLESS A UNITED STATES PASSENGER VESSEL IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR TRANSPORTATION TO THE EMPLOYEE'S DESTINATION. YOU NOW FEEL, ON THE BASIS OF OUR DECISIONS 15 COMP. GEN. 378, AND 33 COMP. GEN. 138, THAT SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, DOES NOT PRECLUDE YOUR AUTHORIZING AN EMPLOYEE TO TRAVEL ON A FOREIGN FLAG FREIGHTER OFFERING A LIMITED NUMBER OF LESS-THAN-FIRST CLASS ACCOMMODATIONS IF HE SELECTS THAT MODE OF TRAVEL, EVEN THOUGH AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS ARE AVAILABLE TO THE AUTHORIZED DESTINATION. YOU REFER PARTICULARLY TO THE DESIRE OF CERTAIN EMPLOYEES TO TRAVEL ON JAPANESE FLAG FREIGHTERS WHICH OPERATE BETWEEN THE CANAL ZONE AND MIAMI, FLORIDA, RATHER THAN BY AMERICAN PASSENGER VESSELS WHICH FURNISH SERVICE TO NEW YORK, NEW YORK, OR AMERICAN FREIGHTERS WITH ACCOMMODATIONS TO NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA.

UNDER THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT, 1936, AN EMPLOYEE WHO TRAVELS ON VESSELS OF FOREIGN REGISTRY MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED THE EXPENSES INCURRED FOR SUCH TRAVEL IF AN AMERICAN FLAG VESSEL WAS AVAILABLE OVER THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. 30 COMP. GEN. 407; 9 ID. 210. AN EXCEPTION TO THAT RULE IS THAT AN EMPLOYEE MAY TRAVEL BY A FOREIGN FLAG PASSENGER VESSEL IF THE ONLY AVAILABLE AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS ARE FREIGHTERS WITH LIMITED PASSENGER ACCOMMODATIONS. 33 COMP. GEN. 138; 15 ID. 378.

OUR DECISION OF SEPTEMBER 11, 1956, 36 COMP. GEN. 207, TO WHICH YOU REFER, ALLOWS THE USE OF FOREIGN FREIGHTERS "GENERALLY" FOR TRAVEL BETWEEN THE CANAL ZONE AND THE WEST COAST OF THE UNITED STATES ON THE BASIS OF A DETERMINATION THAT ACCOMMODATIONS ON AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS, BOTH PASSENGER AND FREIGHT, ARE NOT USUALLY AVAILABLE FOR SUCH TRAVEL.

THE REQUIREMENT OF SECTION 901 OF THE MERCHANT MARINE ACT THAT EMPLOYEES USE AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS WHEN TRAVELING UPON OFFICIAL BUSINESS IS NOT LIMITED TO PASSENGER VESSELS. THEREFORE, WE MAY NOT CREDIT ANY ALLOWANCE FOR TRAVEL OF EMPLOYEES IF THE TRAVEL IS ON A FOREIGN FREIGHTER WHEN AN AMERICAN PASSENGER VESSEL IS AVAILABLE; FURTHERMORE, IF THE ONLY AVAILABLE MEANS OF SEA TRAVEL IS BY FREIGHTER, NO ALLOWANCE MAY BE CREDITED FOR TRAVEL ON A FREIGHTER OF FOREIGN REGISTRY IF AN AMERICAN REGISTERED FREIGHTER IS AVAILABLE.

IN THE PARTICULAR CASE PRESENTED, IF THE USE OF THE JAPANESE FREIGHTERS FROM THE CANAL ZONE TO MIAMI IN TRAVELING TO AND FROM POINTS IN THE SOUTHEASTERN UNITED STATES RESULTS IN A SUBSTANTIAL SAVINGS IN TIME AND FUNDS OVER THE USE OF SIMILAR AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS TO NEW ORLEANS OR PANAMA LINE OR GRACE LINE PASSENGER VESSELS TO NEW YORK, A CONCLUSION THAT NO AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS ARE AVAILABLE FOR SUCH TRAVEL MAY BE JUSTIFIED UNDER THE USUAL RULES FOR DETERMINING AVAILABILITY. SEE 36 COMP. GEN. 53. IF THE USE OF THE JAPANESE VESSELS WOULD RESULT IN TRAVEL BY A CIRCUITOUS ROUTE, ALLOWANCE OF THE COST OF TRANSPORTATION ON THOSE VESSELS WOULD DEPEND UPON THE AVAILABILITY OF AMERICAN FLAG VESSELS, EITHER PASSENGER OR FREIGHT, ON THE USUALLY TRAVELED ROUTE. 30 COMP. GEN. 407.

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