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The proposed legislation is intended to permit the relatively few vessels having light and day signals which extend vertically above the understructure of a bridge to depart from the rules of navigation that are ordinarily applicable on the particular waterway. It is proposed that the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating be authorized to prescribe such special rules, to be observed by vessels navigating under or near certain bridges, as in his judgment the public safety may require for the prevention of collisions.
The need for legislation along the lines of the proposed bill is established in the Department of Commerce report on Navigational Clearance Requirements for Highway and Railroad Bridges published in February 1955. The Bureau of Public Roads of this Department has been striving during recent years to obtain reasonable reductions in the navigational clearances required for highway bridges constructed with Federal-aid highway funds, with the objective of reducing the costs of the navigational increment of highway bridges whenever and wherever it is feasible without unduly affecting the reasonable requirements of waterway transportation. One of the problems involved is the need for relatively high navigational clearances to permit vessels engaged in coastal trade to operate on inland waters with navigational lights that conform to the "International Rules of the Road.” The International rules necessitate the carrying of navigational lights at an elevation substantially higher than that required under the rules applicable on inland waters and navigational lights which conform to the international rules are in some cases permissible and in some cases required on seagoing vessels operating on inland waterways. On the other hand, navigational lights which conform to the rules generally applicable to inland waterways, do not meet the requirements of the international rules.
Studies of bridge costs indicate that substantial amounts of additional funds are required to construct bridges with vertical clearances sufficient to pass vessels equipped with the navigational lights required under international rules over that which is required to pass vessels equipped with the navigational lights required under the rules applicable on inland waters. The matter is also pertinent with respect to movable bridges. In many instances, vessels operating with navigational lights required under the rules applicable on inland waters can pass under existing movable bridges in closed position, but it is necessary to open these bridges for the same or similar vessels if they are equipped with navigational lights required under the international rules. This is particularly important in urban areas where the large volume of highway traffic delayed by the bridge opening results in a substantial economic loss to the community.
It is believed that the enactment of the pending bill would result in savings in bridge construction and operation costs which would benefit principally the Federal-aid, State, and local highway programs. The proposed legislation, and the special rules that would be issued pursuant thereto, would provide official recognition for effective treatment of a rapidly growing problem in surface transportation relationships. Its enactment would also be consistent with certain recommendations made in a report prepared for the Senate Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, entitled "National Transportation Policy" (Doyle report).
The Department of Commerce recommends enactment of the proposed legislation.
The Bureau of the Budget advises that there would be no objection to the submission of this report from the standpoint of the administration's program. Sincerely,
ROBERT E. GILES.
THE GENERAL COUNSEL OF THE TREASURY,
Washington, March 28, 1963. Hon. HERBERT C. BONNER, Chairman, Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, House of Representa
tives, Washington, D.O. DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN : Reference is made to the request of your committee for the views of this Department on H.R. 75, to provide for exceptions to the rules of navigation in certain cases.
The proposed legislation would authorize the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating to permit vessels desiring to navigate or operate under bridges constructed over navigable waters of the United States to temporarily lower lights, day signals, or other navigational means and appliances carried pursuant to law and to permit such vessels in these circumstances to de part from the applicable navigation rules. The bill would also authorize the Secretary to prescribe special regulations for vessels navigating under these circumstances. Civil penalties for violations of these regulations are provided.
The need for the legislation has arisen with the lowering of navigational clearances of many bridges spanning navigable waters. Vessels passing under low bridges are required or will be required to lower portions of superstructural equipment in order to pass safely under these bridges. A vessel's superstructure, including its masts, normally carries navigation lights, day signals, and other navigation equipment. When this equipment is moved a technical violation of the navigation rules results with attendant increased risk of collision. Relief from strict adherence to the rules under these circumstances is appropriate. Special rules must be prescribed to fill the void created by the contemplated exception to the rules.
For the reasons stated, the Treasury Department favors enactment of H.R. 75.
The Department has been advised by the Bureau of the Budget that there is no objection from the standpoint of the administration's program to the submission of this report to your committee. Sincerely yours,
G. D'ANDELOT BELIN,
General Counsel. Mr. GARMATZ. Our first witness this morning is Adm. Oscar Rohnke, Chief, Office of Merchant Marine Safety, Department of the Treasury.
STATEMENT OF REAR ADM. OSCAR C. ROHNKE, CHIEF, OFFICE OF
MERCHANT MARINE SAFETY, U.S. COAST GUARD Mr. GARMATZ. Do you have a prepared statement, Admiral? Admiral RoHNKE. A very short statement, yes, sir. Mr. GARMATZ. You may proceed, Admiral. Admiral ROHNKE. I appreciate the opportunity of being here, Mr. Chairman, and to express the views of the Coast Guard, relative to H.R. 75.
The Coast Guard's concern with H.R. 75 centers around the enforcement of the rules of the road aspects of marine safety.
The bill would authorize the Coast Guard to promulgate regulations by which vessels desiring to navigate under bridges constructed over navigable waters of the United States may temporarily lower any required lights or other signals, and, if necessary, depart from the rules to prevent collision prescribed by law, rule, or regulation while so navigating.
There is presently no authority for exception to the rules of the road where vessels pass under low clearance bridges. H.R. 75 would allow such exceptions within regulations to be prescribed by the Coast Guard.
Currently some vessels do navigate under bridges in certain areas by lowering their masts, and, occasionally, their pilot houses. When this occurs at night in certain areas and on a type of vessel that is required to display navigation lights a specified distance above the hull—which means deckhouse--a technical violation of statutory rules of the road occurs.
Under H.R. 75, regulations would be established that would authorize this practice under certain conditions not inconsistent with safety requirements.
The Coast Guard favors enactment of H.R. 75. If H.R. 75 is enacted into law, necessary implementing regulations will be promulgated as soon as possible.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. MORTON. Admiral, is it the plan of the Coast Guard to issue these regulations on a local basis? In other words, a regulation that would bear on a specific bridge, to have a regulation covering each specific area where this is done, or a broad regulation which covers ships lowering their rigs at any bridge?
Admiral ROHNKE. The regulation would, of necessity, I believe, have to be broad. But there would have to be regulations in some cases to take care of a specific instance or area.
Mr. MORTON. The only problem that I would see would be whether a ship goes through a series of these bridges, and, as I understand, there are one or two of those places in the country, and this ship does not get its rig up between the bridges.
I was wondering whether this was going to be covered specifically or whether this was going to be just in a general and broad area.
Admiral ROHNKE. These areas would have to be covered specifically, yes, sir. In all probability, there would be no time to raise the vessel's bridge, in some cases hydraulically, or the masts to the required heights. Mr. MORTON. Thank you, sir. Mr. GARMATZ. Have you any questions, Counsel? Mr. ZINCKE. Yes, sir.
Admiral, has the Coast Guard made any estimate of the cost of these telescoping masts on a vessel ? Admiral ROHNKE. Not to my knowledge, no.
Mr. ZINCKE. Have they made any estimate of the number of vessels that are likely to be affected by this proposed act?
Admiral RoHNKE. No. And I think it would only apply to certain areas whether the practice at the present is to lower bridges and lower the masts.
In fact, if this bill were passed, we would recognize a procedure that is being carried out now.
Mr. ZINCKE. Then, what you are saying is that in fact, the enactment of this bill probably would not affect the construction of any vessel presently operating?
Admiral ROHNKE. H.R. 75 is permissive, and in this respect, I would say it would not affect any vessel that is presently operating.
Mr. Zincke. It is permissive? Either the vessel lowers its masts going under a bridge or it loses its masts going under the bridge ?
Admiral RoHNKE. No. Some of these vessels lower the bridge and the masts, in order to save time to go under a bridge that will open. This is the practice that is being carried out.
Mr. ZINCKE. I will tell you the reason for these questions. I would like to have your comment on a letter submitted by the American Merchant Marine Institute on this bill. [Reads :]
According to available information, the cost of converting a fixed mast into a telescopic or collapsible mast would amount to at least $4,000 or $7.500 for twomasts and a total of $10,000 per vessel for all three masts, that is, mainmast foremast, and radarmast.
The owners have approximately 985 oceangoing vessels in the active U.S. merchant fleet, having masts ranging from 100 to 190 feet above the waterline at light draft might, under regulations issued in accordance with the provisions of H.R. 75, be required to convert the mainmast, foremast, and radarmast on their vessels into telescopic masts at a total cost of $9,850,000, in order that such vessels might be able to navigate under existing or future bridges with low vertical clearances.
Is that a probable situation ?
Admiral ROHNKE. No, sir. There would be no alteration required. As I indicated before, the requirement would be permissive. If a vessel did have masts and a bridge which could not be lowered, the vessel would have to wait for a bridge to open and then proceed.
Mr. ZINCKE. I read further in the letter for your comment:
Furthermore, the safety aspect of this operation should be given consideration, If the lights, day signals, and so forth, of an oceangoing vessel are lowered during fog, at night or in other periods of low visibilities, in order to navigate under bridges, over rivers and harbors, this could be confusing to other vessels navigating the same waterways, the result that collision might occur.
Would you comment on that statement, sir?
Admiral RoHNKE. In answer to that statement, the practice has been carried on for a number of years, and I know of no accident which has occurred in carrying out this practice.
Mr. ZINCKE. Thank you, sir. That is all I have, Mr. Chairman. (The letter referred to follows:)
AMERICAN MERCHANT MARINE INSTITUTE, INC.,
Washington, D.C., April 23, 1963. Hon. EDWARD A. GARMATZ, Chairman, Subcommittee on Coast Guard, Coast and Geodetic Survey and Navi
gation, Committee on Merchant Marine and Fisheries, U.S. House of Repre
sentatives, Washington, D.C. DEAR MR. GARMATZ: The American Merchant Marine Institute, a national trade association composed of the large majority of U.S. steamship companies operating approximately one-half of the gross tonnage of oceangoing passenger, tank, dry cargo, and collier vessels in the foreign and domestic trades of the United States, recommends amendment of H.R. 75 which your subcommittee is considering.
The bill would provide that the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating may permit vessels desiring to navigate or operate under bridges constructed over navigable waters of the United States to temporarily lower any lights, day signals, or other navigational means and appliances prescribed or required pursuant to law, rule, or regulation, and if necessary, may authorize vessels so navigating or operating to depart from the rules to prevent collisions as prescribed by law, rule or regulation. Also, the bill would authorize the Secretary to prescribe such special regulations to be observed by vessels so navigating or operating as in his judgment the public safety may require for the prevention of collisions. Subsection (b) provides that such regulations shall have the force of law.
When your subcommittee held hearings on an identical bill introduced in the 87th Congress, H.R. 28, we pointed out that the objective sought by the proposal-to reduce the cost of the navigational increment of highway bridges whenever and wherever feasible without unduly affecting the reasonable requirements of waterway transportation-is meritorious, but it is our opinion that the approach to its accomplishment is not the proper one, since it would authorize the imposition of regulations which would require the owners and operators of oceangoing vessels to temporarily lower any lights, day signals, or other navigational means and appliances prescribed under the international rules of the road, in order to navigate or operate under existing bridges or bridges that may be constructed over U.S. navigable waters with vertical clearances considerably less than those presently required to clear oceangoing vessels.
As you probably know, rule 2(a) of the international rules of the road stipulates that on vessels engaged on an international voyage, whose beam exceeds 20 feet, there must be carried on the foremast a white light at a height not less than 40 feet above the hull of the vessel and a white light on the mainmast aft at least 15 feet higher than the one of the foremast, i.e., at least 55 feet above the hull. The molded depth of oceangoing vessels ranges from approximately 34 feet to a maximum on the largest size tanker of 67 feet 6 inches.
According to available information, the cost of converting a fixed mast into a telescopic or collapsible mast would amount to at least $4,000 or $7,500 for two masts, and a total of $10,000 per vessel for all three masts, i.e., mainmast, fore mast, and radar mast. The owners of approximately 985 oceangoing vessels in the active U.S. merchant fleet having masts ranging from 100 to 190 feet above the waterline at light draft might, under regulations issued in accordance with the provisions of H.R. 75, be required to convert the mainmast, foremast, and radar mast on their vessels into telescopic masts at a total cost of $9,850,000 in order that such vessels might be able to navigate under existing or future bridges with low vertical clearances. The imposition of such an exorbitant expense on the shipowners would be extremely burdensome, and, in our opinion, unfair.
The additional expense of operating and maintaining these telescopic_or collapsible masts is not readily estimable, but it would be substantial. The lowering and elevating of this type of mast is a major operation. The work would have to be done by crewmembers, not only during regular working hours, but also outside the regular working hours, depending upon the height of the bridges. And of course the work performed outside the regular working hours is eligible for overtime compensation.
Furthermore, the safety aspect of this operation should be given consideration. If the lights, day signals, etc., of an oceangoing vessel are lowered during fog. at night or in other periods of low visibility, in order to navigate under bridges over rivers and harbors, this could be confusing to other vessels navigating the same waterways, with the result that collisions might occur. Instead of preventing collisions, the procedure that would be authorized by H.R. 75 might have the opposite effect during periods of low visibility so far as oceangoing vessels are concerned.
The American Merchant Marine Institute, therefore, desires to go on record as opposing H.R. 75 insofar as it would apply to vessels of the U.S. merchant marine, which are subject to the international rules of the road. To effect this, we urge that the following sentence be added at the end of subsection (a) of H.R. 75:
“The provisions of this section shall not apply to vessels normally operating in accordance with the international rules of the road."
Your favorable consideration of our recommendation will be very much appreciated. We ask that this letter be made a part of the written record of the bill. Sincerely,
ALVIN SHAPIRO, Vice President. Mr. GARMATZ. Are there any other questions? ? Is there any other witness? Thank you very much, Admiral. Admiral RoHNKE. Thank you, sir.
Mr. GARMATZ. Mr. Deuterman, bridge engineer, Bureau of Public Roads, Department of Commerce, will be the next witness.
STATEMENT OF MARTIN DEUTERMAN, BRIDGE ENGINEER,
BUREAU OF PUBLIC ROADS, DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE Mr. DEUTERMAN. Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee, I am Martin Deuterman, a bridge engineer with the Bureau of Public Roads in the Department of Commerce. I am pleased to appear before you to present our views concerning H.R. 75, a bill to provide for execeptions to the rules of navigation in certain cases.
Under this proposed legislation, the Coast Guard could permit vessels to lower lights, day signals, or other navigational means or