The Merchant Marine 1

american, line, ships, subsidies, mail, british and german

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The procedure followed by the United States in spection authorities in having a vessel completely dis charged and the fires drawn before inspection, results. it is asserted, in delay which places another unnecessary burden upon American ships. The hy drostatic test of the boilers is said, too, to be both dangerous and costly as compared with the method of inspection used in other countries.

The absence of a load-line or Plimsoll line is re .sponsible for a higher rate of insurance on American vessels, notwithstanding the fact that American losses have been very light.

The losses of merchant steamers of the principal maritime nations from August, 1914, until the time of the armistice in November, 1918, according to Lloyd's Register were as follows: It is possible that the higher rate of insurance charged American vessels is not only due to the sup posed danger of overloading ships not provided with a load-line, but is determined by experience data based upon particular average claims.

These economic and legislative conditions have pre vented Americans from investing in ships of Ameri can registry. That American capital has not been backward in investing in ocean transportation as such, is proved by the fact that prior to the European Alrar close upon two million tons of foreign shipping were American-owned. Probably 75 per cent of the International Mercantile Marine is owned by Ameri can investors.

Five ships of this combine have been transferred to American registry. The company has a five-year contract expiring in 1920 for the carriage of mail to Great Britain by American Line steamers. By a twenty-year agreement made in 1902 with the British Board of Trade this company also secured British mail subsidies. The subsidies are to be continued as long as all the vessels taken over, as well as half the later additions to the fleet, are kept under the British flag. The holding company agreed to keep the orig inal companies alive with a majority of the directors subjects.

10. Government aid to subsidies given to foreign ships by their governments constitute one of the reasons why competition has been difficult for American ships.

It will be recalled that the first British transatlantic company, the Cunard line, was supported by a gov ernment subsidy, which was increased as the service expanded. In 1839, $425,000 per annum was al

lowed. This was raised to $735,000 in 1850 and to $850,000 in 1852.

It is not true, however, that English shipping has attained its present powerful position as a result of a policy of subsidies. The subsidies granted by the British givernment were all limited to mail steamers or to such steamers as were built in conformity with naval requirements and arc held absolutely at the dis posal of the Admiralty. In both cases high speed is required, which, combined with the small net tonnage resulting from a large amount of waste space, makes operation very expensive.

Great Britain's position as a maritime nation has been attained thru natural causes. The early de velopment of the iron industry and the abundance of coal as a return cargo have been among the most pow erful causes of its success.

France established a definite merchant marine pol icy in 1881 and prior to 1901 had paid over $35,000, 000 in navigation bounties and more than $15,000,000 in construction bounties. The results being far from satisfactory, the policy was changed in 1901. Be tween the years 1901 and 1911, more than $73,000,000 was paid in support of shipping, not counting over $58,000,000 paid out for mail service. In spite of this generous support, French tonnage has failed to keep pace with that of other nations.

The former German government had mail con tracts with three steamship lines, the Hamburg American Line, the North-German Lloyd and the German East Africa Line, while indirect bounties were allowed to both the German East Africa Line and the German Levant Line by reduced inland railway rates from places in Germany to points in the Levant and preferential rates were granted by the Turkish and Bulgarian governments on the railroads to the interior stations.

11. Policy of Milted States.—Congress has made several attempts to give American shipping special aid, and more so since the welfare and safety of the country in time of war are seen to be largely depend ent upon a strong merchant marine.

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