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Officer, representing the cable companies in New York, and stated that $1,500 a mile was the average price that we would have to pay.
The CHAIRMAN. Did not the War Department accumulate any cable during the war that would be fit for this work?
CABLE FROM ENGLAND TO FRANCE.
Col. SEOANE. No; it never dealt in any case with cable of this sort during the war, except some cables connecting England and France, which were bought and contracted for in England and made by English companies, and then sold to England and France. In other words, we did buy new cable to connect England and France during the war, but that is the only cable of this kind that was dealt in at all.
The CHAIRMAX. Why did we buy it?
Col. SEOANE. To carry the heavy traffic running from the heal. quarters in France to England.
The CHAIRMAN. Did they have to make arrangements to carry that traffic?
Col. SEOANE. Yes; because the other cables were so enormously overloaded.
The CHAIRMAN. What has become of that cable?
Col. SEOANE. It was sold. Gen. Dawes, you know, sold it in the yeneral clean-up in France-it was sold to England and to France.
The CHAIRMAN. How much did that cost?
Col. SEOANE. That was only 25 miles, and I think that cost something like $100,000, and they sold it for three-fourths of that amount. In conversation with Gen. Russell he said he thought they made a good clean-up on that,
Col. GRIFFIN, The cost of the installation of that cable was greater than the ordinary cost by reason of the fact that the English Channel was infested with submarines, and it could only be laid under extremely difficult conditions.
METHOD OF LAYING CABLE.
The CHAIRMAX. How would this cable be laid-by a private com-pany or by the military forces?
Col. SEOANE. By the military forces. We have a cable ship of our own, and we are not putting down one cent for transportation, because we would bring the ship from Seattle to the place where the cable was manufactured, take it out and lay it.
The CHAIRMAN. I understood you to say it would take eight months before you were ready?
Col. SEOANE. Yes; it will take six to nine months.
The CHAIRMAN. Then why is it necessary to have an appropriation in a deficiency bill for that purpose when the regular bill is soon to be taken up?
Col. SEOANE. Unless we can get the manufacture of this cable started at once we are very apt to get into a very serious situation as regards this cable; we must get something started, because the cable is in such condition that it is likely to go out at any time, and we are just hanging on fate, that is all.
The CHAIRMAN. How long has this condition existed, and how long hare you known of its existence?
Col. SEOANE. The condition has existed for a long time, and had this cable been a commercial cable instead of a Government cable I suppose it would have been replaced a good many years ago-five, six, or seven years ago. It has come up from time to time but I suppose it has looked—although probably I should not say this—like too big a project. When I got out to Seattle and had been out there for a year studying that cable, I certainly made up my mind that the whole thing was junk and that the Secretary of War ought to make up his mind to replace the cable or close it up.
LIFE OF SUBMARINE CABLE.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the life of submarine cable, generally?
Col. SEOANE. The life of submarine cable is dependent on a good many things, but it
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Well, one thing?
ORIGINAL COST OF SYSTEM,
Col. SEOANE. The life of a good cable ought to be 30 years, but this was put down as a very quick affair for Mr. Root, who wanted the cable down at once, and it was put down at the very low cost of $1,450,000. Then an experiment was carried on of using rubber insulation, as there was no gutta percha—which is the proper insulationmanufactured in the United States. Moreover, we did not want to go abroad, as the subject of boundary questions was coming up.
The Chairmax. If it only cost $1,450,000 when it was put in, why should it cost $1,500,000 for 1,000 miles?
Col. SEOANE. That was only for the first cable that was put in, but there were extensions put in afterwards that made its cost run up to about two millions and a quarter. The cable as it was put in was a very small-sized cable; it is very much like electric wiring, and on the amount of copper content in the cable depends not only its usefulness in a commercial way but its service capacity.
The CHAIRMAN. How much business have we in Alaska that requires the expenditure of this money?
Col. SEOANE. We have a great deal of business there; we are doing about 10,000,000 words a year, or 1,000,000 words in a month, and in August we ran at the peak in the number of messages passing over the cable.
WIRELESS COMMUNICATION WITH ALASKA.
The CHAIRMAN. Have we any wireless stations there?
The CHAIRMAN. Why can we not use them, because I have understood that wireless was going to supplant cables ?
Col. SEOANE. No, sir; it can not be done.
Mr. ANTHONY. A few years ago the Signal Corps came to the Committee on Military Affairs and asked for an appropriation to complete the wireless communication with Alaska on the theory that it would supplant that cable.
Col. SEOANE. Yes, sir; that is quite true, and wireless engineersand I am speaking only from the technical point of engineeringbelieved so and had that thought in mind for a long time, and to such an extent that cable companies were holding off, and men like Mr. Mackay and others who were at the head of cable companies thought that the cable business would go out and that radio would supplant the cable business entirely, but they have since come to the opinion that both are filling spheres of usefulness and that each is independent of the other, and that radio can not take the place of cables any more than the trucks you see carrying freight along the streets can take the place of freight trains.
The CHAIRMAN. As I understand it, there are 2,500 miles of this cable, and you say 1,000 miles are giving out. Why is it 1,000 miles are giving out?
Col. SEOANE. From Seattle to Sitka there are 1,000 miles of cable laid in the deep sea and it is all worn out.
The CHAIRMAN. And if we give you enough money to replace the 1,000 miles of cable you will be coming back for money to replace the other cable.
Col. SEOANE. No; we are just asking for money enough to replace 1,000 miles with new cable, and then we are going to repair the other portions of the cable with pieces recovered from the old thousand-mile cable.
Mr. KELLEY. Can you attach a large cable to a small cable and make it effective?
Col. SEOANE. No; we can not do that; you have got to run from your two terminals with one size or else you are limited by the small size; but the cable that is going to be put in will be of a larger size, because this cable is worked to the limit; they are working 24 hours a day on it, and we are using the Philips code, and everything else, for the purpose of trying to get the traffic through; the speed of that cable is 24 words a minute and we have got to work 24 hours a day to get the traffic through on 24 words a minute, so we are going to have cable that will be a little heavier in copper content.
Mr. KELLEY. What branches of the Government patronize this organization?
Col. SEOANE. All branches of the Government patronize this cable.
Mr. KELLEY. Have you the figures showing the tolls charged to each department?
Col. SĘOANE. Yes, sir. This is for the month of September, and the official business is, War, $7,258; Alaskan Engineering Commission, which is building the railroad--and, incidentally, we think we are building the railroad by cable because they use it so much-$1,146; Interior Department, $1.666; Department of Justice, $900; Roads, $825 : Commerce, $269; Treasury, $110; Post Office, $589; Navy, $28; Labor, $10; and Agriculture, $1,607, making a total of $14,413 of Government business, and commercial business, $15,124.
COST OF OPERATION.
The CHAIRMAN. How much does it cost to operate it!
Col. SEOANE. There has been appropriated $140,000 a year for the past 10 years, and we have to squeeze in every possible way to get along.
The CHAIRMAN. How much money have you spent out of military appropriations in addition to the $140,000 ?
Col. Griffin. None from Signal Corps funds, but
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). You have a cable ship there and a crew on it, and that is a part of the cost, or would be, if it was privately controlled.
Mr. ANTHONY. The pay of the officers and men of the Signal Corps connected with this cable comes out of the military bill.
Col. SEOANE. That is all right.
The CHAIRMAN. That is all right, but what we want to get at are the facts. We do not want you to simply say it is all right; and what we want to know is this: You get $140,000 a year from Congress. and you spend how much money from other sources that does not appear in this $140,000? That is what we want to know.
Col. SEOANE. The pay and upkeep of the troops, transportation, and the cable ship. I have it here in the statement.
The CHAIRMAN. We would like to have you put that in, and then, of course, the receipts, $15,000 from outside and $14,00 from inside.
Col. SEOANE. That is just the month of September, but I have it by years.
Nr. ANTHONY. You say you received $7.258 of business from the War Department during the month of September?
Col. SEOANE. Yes, sir.
Mr. ANTHONY. That means that practically all the orders and communications from the War Department were sent over your cable instead of by mail?
Col. SEOANE. I have no way of measuring what is done by mail, because that is in the Post Office Department.
Mr. ANTHONY. How many troops have you in Alaska ?
Col. SEOANE. Well, the troops we have in Alaska are not a great many, but then they are scattered in little numbers, and the little numbers have to do the work of bigger numbers.
Mr. ANTHONY. Those figures of $7,000 show that simply because the Government has the free use of that cable that the War Department is making excessive use of it. Of course, you would not like to say that, but it would appear that way to us on the outside.
Col. SEOANE. I might say that the War Department, per se, is only using about half of that amount; the other half is used by the cable system itself; there are 250 soldiers scattered along the stations on that cable system, and as the headquarters is down in Seattle, messages having to do with the stations and the men are constantly passing backward and forward.
RECEIPTS AND COST OF OPERATION.
The CHAIRMAN. Give us all the details, showing how much the monthly revenue is, and how much the monthly cost is.
Col. SEOANE. At various times questions are raised concerning the cost of overhead of the Washington-Alaska Military Cable and Telegraph System. These questions are in a way related to tentative propositions having to do with the release of the cable from War Department control to some other department of the Government, or in turning it over to commercial interests. To answer such questions purely from the standpoint of cost analysis, the following summary has been prepared under three headings: Cost under the military, cost under another branch of the Government not having military personnel, and cost under commercial control. An analysis has been made which shows that the system as operated under the military brings a net return to the Government of $325,000 a year, For the sake of completeness, there may be no objection to a restatement of these figures under this heading. The basis of such computation is as follows: Value of Government business, $219,000.
The CHAIRMAN. Is this simply a bookkeeping charge or account, or does it represent revenue from the Government?
Col. SEOANE. It is purely bookkeeping account, because the Treasury Department, Department of Justice, Department of Commerce, and Department of Agriculture do not pay any of that. The money receipts deposited in the United States Treasury, under this statement, amount to $184,000, and the subsidy to the press as represented by the Government and commercial rates is $62,000, making a total of $465,000. This does not take any credit for the reduction in the form of night letter rates. From the total amounting to $465,000, there should be subtracted $140,000 appropriated annually for the upkeep of the system. This leaves a net return to the Government of $325,000, but does not take into consideration expenses of the military personnel operating the system, which is an overhead borne by the Army at large, and has no place in accounting for such an enterprise as this.
The CHAIRMAN. I am afraid, that you are making an argument instead of a statement. We would like to have a statement of the cold facts, and not an argument, showing the reason why certain things have been brought about.
Col. SEOANE. Were the military to turn over the system to some other bureau of the Government not employing military personnel, such bureau or department would at once have to assume the burden of the overhead of the personnel necessary to carry on the duties. This amounts to $296.800 per annum in payment of salaries-
The CHAIRMAN (interposing). Do we have that expense now? Col. SEOANE. Yes, sir; but you would not do away with the troops. The three companies of Signal Corps troops, if they were not up there, would be in Texas or somewhere else, and you could not charge them to the Alaska system for the same reason that you would not charge them to Texas or to the international boundary of Mexico.