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WASHINGTON, Tuesday, December 31, 1889. 11 o'clock a. m. The Conference was called to order at 11 o'clock a. m., with RearAdmiral Frauklin in the chair.
The PRESIDENT. The first business in order this morning is the consideration of the report of Committee No. 3 on General Division 10, which will be read by the Secretary.
The report of Committee No. 3 on General Division 10 is as follows:
“GENERAL DIVISION 10.-Reporting, marking, and removing dangerous
wrecks or obstructions to navigation.
“(a) A uniform method of reporting and marking dangerous wrecks and derelicts.
6 (6) The division of the labor, cost, and responsibility among the several maritime nations, either by geographical apportionment or otherwise.
“Of the removal of dangerous derelicts;
“And of searching for doubtful dangers with a view of removing them from the charts.
"The heading of this division leaves it doubtful whether the Conference expect the committee to consider measures dealing with dangerous wrecks and obstructions in territorial waters as well as on the high seas.
“The committee are of opinion that it is not necessary or desirable to propose international action regarding territorial waters, except the marking of wrecks, which subject is treated under General Division 12.
“(a) A UNIFORM METHOD OF REPORTING AND MARKING DANGEROUS
WRECKS AND DERELICTS.
" Wherever the word "wreck’ is used in this report it is meant to des. ignate an abandoned vessel aground, and wherever the word . derelict' is used, it is meant to designate a vessel a float permanently abandoned.'
“ Wrecks are not always to be considered a source of danger to navi. gation. When lying outside of the fair.ways, as, for instance, on dan. gerous sands, or on coral reefs, they may even contribute to the safety of navigation by becoming conspicuous day marks; but when they are lying in a fair-way, in water of not sufficient depth to allow vessels to pass without striking the hull or spars of the wreck, they become a se. rious danger to navigation.
“Derelicts are always a danger to navigation, as other vessels may run into them without any warning, particularly at night or during thick weather. Since January 1, 1889, five collisions with derelicts are S. Ex. 53
known to have taken place in the North Atlantic Ocean alone, by one of which lives were imperiled. (See Appendix A, page 16.]
“ Undoubtedly the number of lives and the value of property lost through collision with derelicts at sea has been very considerable, and such losses might be greatly reduced if proper steps were taken to clear the seas of such dangers.
“Other dangerous obstructions (icebergs, newly discovered shoals, reefs, etc.) would seem to be included under the heading of General Division 10,' and although not alluded to in paragraph a should, in the opinion of the committee, be discussed here, as they may constitute the most serious of all the dangers dealt with in this division.
" REPORTING DANGEROUS WRECKS AND DERELICTS.
“ The danger caused by wrecks and derelicts might be considerably lessened if their exact position were known to the mariner. For obvi. ous reasons it is often most difficult to attain this end completely. Much, bowever, would be gained if as accurate a report as possible were secured and brought to the notice of mariners without loss of time.
“ Regarding the manner in which such reports should be bronght to the central office in charge of the distribution of Notices to Mariners,' the committee propose the following resolutions :
"1. That it is advisable to make it the duty of any of the officers, or of the crew of a wreck or derelict, to report, as soon as possible after landing, to the nearest harbor-authority, if necessary through their consul, as follows:
“(a) Name of the vessel abandoned. "ib) Her distinguishing number.
"C) Name of her home port, port from which she sailed, and place of destination.
“(d) General description of vessel and her rig.
“e) Place where abandoned (latitude and longitude as near as possible).
“(f) Weather and current experienced before leaving the vessel, and in case she was a derelict, the direction in which she would most likely drift.
“(9) Whether or not it is intended to take any steps toward her recovery.
“2. That a similar report should be made to the same authorities, by the master of any vessel sighting a wreck or derelict, and a suitable entry made in the ship's log.
“3. Such reports should be published in Notices to Mariners,' the daily press, and, if necessary, by giving telegraphic information to the ports which it most concerns.”
Captain MENSING (Germany). Mr. President, I beg leave to submit whether it would not be advisable to have every paragraph discussed as we go along, or every division of the report discussed in this way. For instance, there are several propositions made here, and perhaps it would help to clear up the matter if we go from one to the other. So I would like to propose that if there is any discussion of the proposi. tions it should be disposed of now,
The PRESIDENT. The delegate from Germany suggests that any discussion on the propositions should be held as the report is being read. Captain MENSING (Germany). Yes, sir; from division to division.
The PRESIDENT. Discussion will now be in order upon the two divisions which have been read,
The Chair hears no suggestions. The Secretary will please read the next division.
REPORTING OTHER OBSTRUCTIONS TO NAVIGATION, AS ICEBERGS,
NEWLY-DISCOVERED SHOALS, REEFS, ETC.
“Regarding the manner in which such reports should be transmitted to the proper authorities the committee propose the following resolution:
664. That it is advisable to make it the duty of every commander or master of a vessel to report the fact that an iceberg or dangerous field ice has been sighted, or a shoal, reef, or other obstruction has been discovered to the harbor authorities or the hydrographic office of that country to which the port next reached belongs, giving a full description of the obstruction and all facts that may lead to the determination of its position; for instance, the time elapsed since the last reliable astronomical observation and the rate of the chronometer. If the ob. struction be a shoal or reef, the depth of water actually obtained by sounding on it should be given. Also when land is in sight the position of any off-lying shoal or reef should be determined by compass bearings of fixed objects in view, the error of the compass being stated, with information as to how and when that error was observed. Angles should also be taken between such objects and a drawing of the coast and the position of the observer be added.
"Regarding the reporting of ice met with in the vicinity of the Newfoundland Banks by signal from a vessel to other vessels, the committee are aware than an ice code' has been published by a private individ. ual which, according to his own statement, is rather extensively used amongst steamers employed in the regular trade between the port of New York and the ports of northern Europe.
6. This code seems to offer some advantages, but as there was no evi. dence before the Committee showing whether its use had been found to be beneficial or otherwise, they were unable to decide whether the introduction of this code or a similar one could be recommended."
The PRESIDENT. The subject of reporting other obstructions to nav. igation as icebergs, newly discovered shoals, reefs, etc., is now before the Conference for discussion. The Chair hears no proposition with reference to that section. The Secretary will please read the next divis. ion.
The next division of the report is as follows
“MARKING WRECKS AND DERELICTS.
“As it appears impracticable in most cases for the master and crew of a sunken vessel to mark the wreck in any effective manner, no such obligation should be imposed upon them; and it would also be a great burden, aside from the peril of the undertaking, to compel a passing vessel to mark a derelict. Neither does it seein feasible that any national goverầment should assume such a duty; but so far as possible means should be employed by which derelicts may be recognized at
first sight, and with this end in view the committee recommend the adoption of the following resolution :
“5. That whenever practicable it shall be the duty of the crew before abandoning a vessel, (a) to boist some distinctive signal, as B O F, • abandoned by the crew, or CRTG, derelict, or a ball, shape, or other similar mark, where it can best be seen, and where it should not be mistaken for any other authorized signal; (b) to let go the sheets and halliards of such sails as are not furled."
The PRESIDENT. The subject before the Conference for discussion now is, "Marking wrecks and derelicts." The Chair hears no proposi. tion with regard to it. The Secretary will please read the next division.
The next division of the report is as follows:
"MARKING OTHER OBSTRUCTIONS.
“At present it seems impracticable to mark shoals, reefs, etc., whether they be well known or only newly discovered, with the exception of those lying near the coasts of countries having a maritime commerce, and we consider it unnecessary to press for their being marked in other localities where they can be readily avoided by the exercise of ordinary skill and the usual precautions known to navigators; for this reason the committee have no proposition to submit to the Conference beyond the introduction, so far as possible, of a uniform system of buoyage."
The PRESIDENT. The subject before the Conference for discussion is “ Marking other obstructions." The Chair hears no proposition with regard thereto. The Secretary will proceed to read the next division of the programme.
The next division of the programme is as follows:
“(6) THE DIVISION OF THE LABOR, COST, AND RESPONSIBILITY AMONG
THE SEVERAL MARITIME NATIONS, EITHER BY GEOGRAPHICAL APPORTIONMENT OR OTHERWISE, OF THE REMOVAL OF DANGEROUS DERELICTS; AND OF SEARCHING FOR DOUBTFUL DANGERS WITH A VIEW OF REMOVING THEM FROM THE CHARTS.
“1. DERELICTS, ETC., ON THE HIGH SEAS.
“A geographical apportionment of the waters of the globe amongst the different maritime nations, in order to divide the labor and cost of removing wrecks and derelicts, or searching for doubtful dangers, can not be recommended for adoption.
“In the open sea, with the exception of a part of the North Atlantic, derelicts and dangerous wrecks are exceedingly rare, and as these parts of the ocean are, comparatively speaking, not much frequented by vessels, the danger accruing from such obstructions is not one to warrant the expenditure of such sums of money as would be necessary to institute a regular service, sufficient to insure their removal from regions of such enormous extent. The news of having sigbted a derelict is often a week or more old before it is received by the authorities; a rescuing steamer can often not be on the spot for another week; the position given is in many cases not accurate; and in most parts of the sea the drift of the derelict is exceedingly uncertain. It is, therefore, a most difficult task for a vessel sent out to search for a derelict to find it; and
the expense incurred by such expeditions may often be out of all proportion to the small chance of finding and removing one.
“ The geographical apportionment of the waters of the oceans might, besides this, easily lead to the supposition that the limits so defined would circumscribe, moreover, the sphere of political interest of the respective governments."
The PRESIDENT. The subject before the Conference for discussion is “ Derelicts, etc., on the high seas." The Chair hears no proposition in regard to it. The Secretary will please read the next division.
The next division of the report is as follows:
“2. DERELICTS IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC.
"In the North Atlantic, particularly in that part of it bordering tho North American coast westward of a line drawn from the Bermuda Islands to Cape Race, Newfoundland, derelicts are so frequently met with that they must be considered a serious danger to navigation.
"As in these waters the vessels whose safety is imperiled by their existence are exceedingly numerous, the number of persons on board of them very large, and the value of these ships and their cargoes very great, and as, moreover, the chances for locating derelicts and for determining the direction of their drift are particularly favorable, the committee propose that the various maritime powers should come to some agreement respecting their removal.
“In case this proposition should be entertained, it is submitted that the respective powers should also come to some understanding regard iug the proprietary rights which may still exist, whether in the ship or in her cargo.
“Besides this, it seems desirable to point out that amongst other matters that will necessarily have to be considered it would be well to take steps to prevent the destruction of derelicts that might readily have been saved, and to make sure that in case destruction has been decided upon no evidence of crime should be destroyed also.”
The PRESIDENT. The subject before the Conference for discussion is, " Derelicts in the North Atlantic.” The Chair hears no proposition with reference thereto. The Secretary will please read the next division,
The next division of the report is as follows:
"3. WRECKS AND DERELICTS IN COAST WATERS.
66 Regarding wrecks and derelicts in coast waters outside the terri. torial limits, the committee submit that the duty of marking, and, if necessary, of removing wrecks, or such portions of them as obstruct navigation, has already been generally acknowledged by the govern. ments whom it concerns, and therefore no further propositions have to be made in this regard.
" It has, however, been brought to the notice of the committee that governments who by treaty have acknowledged the exterritoriality of subjects of other powers and of their property are sometimes very much hampered by the consideration of private interests in their action regarding the removal of wrecks, even when the value of the wreck and cargo is very small, and there is scarcely a possibility that salvage operations can be successfully undertaken. The committee are therefore of opinion that a resolution should be adoptell to the following