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certain relatively important changes, the present Suez rules for the measurement of vessels to determine the tonnage upon which Panama tolls shall be paid.
The gross-tonnage rules of the Suez Canal Co., while providing for the measurement of the gross capacity of vessels more completely than do any of the several national rules, are open to criticism as regards the following particulars:
1. The Suez rules, as amended in 1904, exempt from measurement the poop up to onetenth of the length of the vessel and the forecastle up to one-eighth of the vessel's length (see Chap. IV, p. 53), provided the spaces in the poop and forecastle are considered “open” by the measurement rules of the country in which the vessel is registered. The general principles of the Suez rules would provide for the measurement of the entire space within poop and forecastle, and it was, up to 1904, the practice of the company to include the entire poop and forecastle spaces of all vessels in gross tonnage. The concession made in 1904 is objectionable because it exempts from measurement spaces which may, in fact, be available for cargo, supplies, passengers, or crew. The rule of 1904 is also to be criticized because it makes the Suez Canal tonnage dependent to some extent upon national measurement rules. In the formulation and application of measurement rules, the principle should be adhered to of including all closed-in spaces within gross tonnage.
2. The Suez rules always exempt double bottom spaces from measurement. Double bottom spaces should be exempted when they are used or can be used only for water ballast, but the double bottom compartments that are or may be used to carry fuel or anything other than water ballast should be measured and included in gross tonnage. Double bottom spaces used for fuel oil, feed water, or cargo are a part of a vessel's usable contents, and the several national registry rules properly provide for the measurement of such spaces.
3. A third minor objection to the Suez gross tonnage rules is that, as amended in 1904, they do not provide for the exemption under all circumstances of the spaces within the light and air casings and the spaces framed in around the smoke funnels to the extent that such spaces are located above the first tier of erections above the upper deck or an inclosed “shelter" deck with “tonnage openings.” The spaces above the first tier of erections within the light and air casings and within the casings surrounding the smoke funnels form no real part of a vessel's closed-in capacity. It has long been the practice in Great Britain, Germany, and the United States to include within the engine room light and air and funnel spaces above the upper deck, or a portion of such spaces, when necessary to make the engine-room space more than 13 per cent of the entire space included in gross tonnage. The privilege thus given shipowners has resulted in the manipulation or juggling of engine-room space for the purpose of securing maximum deductions for propelling power. The amendments which the Suez Canal Co. made in its rules in 1904 permit a similar practice in the case of vessels measured under the Suez rules. It would have been better for the Suez Canal Co. not to have made this change in its rules. (See Chap. XI, p. 176.)
The net tonnage of vessels measured by the Suez rules is more nearly equivalent to the earning capacity of vessels than is the net tonnage as determined by any of the national rules; but, in the following particulars, the Suez rules fail to adhere to the tonnage principles which were adopted by the International Tonnage Commission of 1873, and which it is recommended should be adhered to in the formulation and administration of the Panama measurement rules:
1. The Suez rules arbitrarily limit to 5 per cent of the gross tonnage the total deductions that may be made for crew spaces and for all spaces other than those occupied by machinery and fuel. This 5 per cent limit should not be included in the Panama measurement rules, because it puts a premium upon limiting crew spaces to the legal minimum. The Panama measurement rules should permit the actual spaces occupied by the crew to be deducted from gross tonnage.
2. The Suez rules deduct from gross tonnage the spaces used for the working and navigation of the ship only when those spaces are located above decks. This is not correct in principle. Whenever such spaces are not available for passengers or cargo they should be deducted from gross tonnage whether located above or below deck. They are obviously not a part of the vessel's net capacity.
3. The Suez rules do not deduct water-ballast tanks, such as side or peak tanks. When such tanks are not available for stowing oil or cargo they should be deducted from gross tonnage as is provided for in the various national measurement rules. Tanks that can be used solely for carrying ballast are not a part of a vessel's net capacity.
4. The room or rooms occupied by boatswain's stores are not deducted under the Suez rules, which thereby include in net tonnage certain spaces not available for the stowage of cargo or for the accommodation of passengers.
5. Probably for the reason that the Suez Canal is not used by sailing vessels, the Suez measurement rules do not provide for the deduction of spaces used for the stowing of sails on sailing vessels. Ordinary sailing vessels will not use the Panama Canal, but in all probability the canal will be used by a considerable number of large sailing vessels equipped with auxiliary engines. Such vessels are now used to some extent. The Panama rules should allow deductions to be made of spaces occupied by sails upon sailing vessels. The national measurement rules provide for the deduction of the actual space set aside for the stowage of sails upon vessels propelled solely by sails up to a maximum of 24 per cent of the gross tonnage. The Panama rules
may well allow the deduction of the space occupied by sails up to 24 per cent of the gross tonnage, in the case of vessels propelled wholly by sails.
6. The Suez rules exempt from measurement and from the payment of canal tolls spaces occupied by deck loads. For reasons stated above the spaces occupied by lumber and other freight carried on open decks should be regarded as a part of a vessel's earning capacity, and the volume of such space should be added to the tonnage upon which tolls and other canal charges are paid. It should not be the policy of the United States to offer a premium upon deck cargo by exempting from tonnage and tolls the spaces occupied by such cargo.
The analysis of the measurement rules of Great Britain, Germany, and the United States (and, also, of the French rules in Appendices VIII and IX) shows that the gross tonnage and net tonnage of vessels, as determined by the navigation laws of the leading commercial nations, do not accurately express the closed-in capacity and the net, or earning, capacity of vessels. Great Britain and, because of her action, other countries have purposely sacrificed accuracy in order to make tonnage low, and thus to lighten the port and other charges paid by shipping. The Suez rules are based upon sound principles and would be more satisfactory than would any of the national rules for determination of the tonnage upon which Panama tolls shall be paid. If the Suez Canal Co. should find it possible and advisable to bring about the modification of their measurement rules as to correct the defects noted in this chapter—and most of the changes required would affect provisions of relatively minor importance—the Panama and Suez rules can doubtless be made identical, and a long step can be taken toward the goal of complete international unification of tonnage and measurement rules; but unless, or until, the Suez rules can be so modified that gross tonnage according to those rules will accurately express the entire closed-in space and net tonnage the net, or earning, capacity of vessels, it will be well to have different rules for the measurement of vessels to ascertain the tonnage upon which Panama tolls shall be paid.
The Panama measurement rules should be based on correct principles and the several provisions of the rules should be made to accord as closely as possible with those principles. The Panama rules should be accurate to start with and should be permanent, except for such minor changes as may be required on account of the introduction of new types of vessels or new kinds of engines. It is possible that, by making the Panama rules correct in principle and in detail, they may, because of their accuracy, help bring about greater unity in measurement rules and practice.
DEDUCTIONS FOR PROPELLING POWER, HISTORY AND CRITICISM OF RULES.
The rules recommended for the determination of the net tonnage upon which Panama Canal tolls payable by vessels of commerce shall be levied provide that the deduction from gross tonnage to allow for the space occupied by propelling power-machinery and fuel-shall be made according to the Suez rule, to which reference has been made in earlier chapters of this report. This is not the rule by which propelling-power deductions are made in the United States, Great Britain, and Germany to determine the net registered tonnage of vessels, but is a part of the Suez Canal Co.'s present regulations. It was formulated for the Suez Canal Co. by the International Tonnage Commission which met in Constantinople in 1873.
The decision in favor of incorporating in the Panama measurement rules the Suez rule regarding propelling-power deductions has been reached after a careful consideration of the principles involved. The so-called percentage rule by which propelling-power deductions are made by most countries, when vessels are measured to determine their registry tonnage, originated in Great Britain. The history of the origin of the percentage rule and of its practical working in Great Britain and other countries that have followed the precedent established by Great Britain has also strengthened the conviction that the Suez instead of the percentage rule regarding propelling-power deductions should be incorporated in the rules applied to vessels to determine the tonnage upon which Panama Canal tolls shall be paid.
The most important provision of any code of tonnage rules is the one governing deductions made to allow for the space occupied by machinery and fuel. The propelling-power deductions include from three-fourths to five-sixths of the total reduction made from gross to determine net tonnage. In Great Britain, the deductions now made for crew and navigation spaces (all allowances other than for propelling power and fuel) amount to 44 to 12 per cent of the gross tonnage of merchant steamers. The total deductions from gross tonnage, including those for propelling power, crew spaces, and navigation purposes, average 39 per cent for the entire British merchant fleet. The Suez Canal Co. limits deductions, other than for propelling power and fuel, to 5 per cent of the gross tonnage, and this same rule is adhered to by Austria-Hungary, Italy, Sweden, and Greece. Japan allows maximum deductions other than for propelling power and fuel amounting to 6 per cent of the gross tonnage. It is thus evident that the amount of tolls paid by the owners of vessels for the use of the canal and the revenues received by the United States Government in the operation of the canal may be appreciably affected by the rule governing propelling-power deductions. It is important that those deductions should be fair to the owners of ships and to the owners of the canal.
The three methods by which propelling-power deductions are determined were explained in Chapter V. Those methods or rules are as follows:
1. The percentage method, which provides for a deduction of 32 per cent of the gross tonnage of screw-propelled steamers, the actual volume of whose engine room is above 13 and under 20 per cent of the space included in gross tonnage, and for a deduction of 37 per cent of the gross tonnage of paddle-wheel steamers, the actual volume of whose engine room is above 20 and under 30 per cent of the space included in gross tonnage.
2. The so-called Danube rule, which provides for the deduction of the actual volume of the engine room increased by in the case of screw steamers and of the actual volume of the engine room increased by 4 in the case of paddle-wheel vessels.