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Ship Lanes of the North Atlantic

routes, companies, vessels, adopted, ocean, lane, england and fog

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SHIP LANES OF THE NORTH ATLANTIC. The sinking of the U.S. mail steamer "Arctic" in October 1854, by collision with the French steamer "Vesta," in a thick fog while on passage from Liverpool to New York, resulted in a loss of about 300 lives. This disaster inspired Lieutenant M. F. Maury, U.S. Navy, then superintendent of the "Depot and Observatory," Navy Department, to include in his Sailing Directions published in 1855 a section on "Steam Lanes Across the Atlantic." Therein he graphically depicted and recommended the establishment of a lane or strip of ocean for the steamers to go out and another for them to come in so that not only would the liability to danger from collision between steamers, as well as between steamers and sailing vessels, be lessened, but a new resource upon the high seas would, in many cases of wreck and disaster, be afforded to those in distress. The lane to Europe crossed the 5oth meridian of west longitude in latitude 42°, and was from 15 to 20 m. wide ; the lane from Europe crossed the 5oth meridian of west longitude 200 M. to the northward and was from 20 to 25 m. wide, the lat ter being made wider on account of the large percentage of fogs, the greatest width in both lanes being given where most fog was expected.

The U.S. Hydrographic Office, Navy Department, established in June i866, first called attention in 1872 to the necessity of lanes across the North Atlantic ocean between U.S. ports and the region south of Ireland and England. This was followed by successive en deavours principally presented to the maritime world through the monthly Pilot Chart of the North Atlantic Ocean. One of these charts, issued in Dec. 1887, carried in addition to amended Maury's lanes the admonition that the dangers most in mind were fog, ice and the fishing fleet off the Grand Banks, and the Hydro graphic Office strongly recommended for adoption the lanes shown.

The International Marine Conference, held in Washington in 1889, attended by delegates from 26 maritime countries, provided: "Steamer lanes for trans-Atlantic navigation are not adopted, although the various steamship companies are urged to adopt regular routes for vessels of their own line." In 1891 at a confer ence between representatives of five of the principal trans-Atlantic steamship companies, the Cunard, White Star, Inman, National and Guion lines, certain routes were formally adopted, to be followed by all vessels of those lines.

The adoption of these safe and well-defined routes between Sandy Hook (and Boston) and the Fastnet could but be regarded as most important in its bearing upon the safety of navigation in the North Atlantic ocean, and especially gratifying to the Hy drographic Office, as the most essential features of the tracks were exactly what had been recommended on the pilot charts for years.

At the International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea, London, 1913-14, at which representatives of 14 maritime na tions were represented, convened subsequent to the "Titanic" disaster, the following was adopted : "The selection of the routes across the North Atlantic in both directions is left to the respon sibility of the steamship companies, nevertheless the High Con tracting Parties undertake to impose on these companies the obli gation to give public notice of the regular routes which they pro pose their vessels should follow, and of any changes which they make in them. The High Contracting Parties undertake, further, to use their influence to induce owners of all vessels crossing the Atlantic to follow as far as possible the routes adopted by the principal companies." With but minor changes the routes used by the principal steam ship companies before the London convention were continued to be used until 1924, when the companies working for a North At lantic track agreement adopted with but minor changes the North Atlantic lane routes A, B, C, D and G, are shown on the accompanying chart, which routes are seasonal and provide for safety from danger of ice, fog and collision with fishing vessels on the Grand Banks. (C. S. K.) a tax, the levy of which by Charles I. of England without the consent of parliament was one of the causes. of the Great Rebellion. The Plantagenet Kings of England had exercised the right of requiring the maritime towns and counties to furnish ships in time of war; and the liability was sometimes commuted for a money payment. Notwithstanding that several statutes of Edward I. and Edward III. had made it illegal for the crown to exact any taxes without the consent of parliament, the prerogative of levying ship-money in time of war had ;lever fallen wholly into abeyance, and in 1619 James I. aroused no popular opposition by levying £40,000 of ship-money on London and £8,550 on other seaport towns. On Feb. ii 1628, Charles I. issued writs requiring £173,000 for the provision of a fleet to secure the country against French invasion and for the protection of commerce, and every county in England was assessed for pay ment. This was the first occasion when the demand for ship money aroused serious opposition. Lord Northampton, lord lieutenant of Warwickshire, and the Earl of Banbury in Berkshire, refused to assist in collecting the money; and Charles withdrew the writs.

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