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PART XXVII. OCEAN MAIL SERVICE.
347. Ocean mail act of 1891.
| 348. General ocean mail service. 347. Ocean mail act of 1891.
The Postmaster-General is hereby authorized and em- Mar. 3, 1891. powered to enter into contracts for a term not less than five nor more than ten years in duration, with American citizens for the carrying of mails on American steamships, between ports of the United States and such ports in foreign countries, the Dominion of Canada excepted, as in his judgment will best subserve and promote the postal and commercial interests of the United States, the mail service on such lines to be equitably distributed among the Atlantic, Mexican Gulf and Pacific ports. Said contracts shall be made with the lowest responsible bidder for the performance of said service on each route, and the Postmaster-General shall have the right to reject all bids not in his opinion reasonable for the attaining of the purposes named.
Before making any contracts for carrying ocean mails Sec. 2. in accordance with this act the Postmaster-General shall give public notice by advertising once a week, for three months, in such daily papers as he shall select in each of the cities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans, Saint Louis, Charleston, Norfolk, Savannah, Galveston and Mobile, and when the proposed service is to be on the Pacific Ocean, then in San Francisco, Tacoma and Portland. Such notice shall describe the route, the time when such contract will be made, the duration of the same, the size of the steamers to be used, the number of trips a year, the times of sailing, and the time when the service shall commence, which shall not be more than three years after the contract shall be let. The details of the mode of advertising and letting such contracts shall be conducted in the manner prescribed in chapter eight of title [R. S., 2941–2963] forty-six of the Revised Statutes for the letting of inland mail contracts so far as the same shall be applicable to the ocean mail service.
The vessels employed in the mail service under the pro- Mar. 3, 1891. visions of this Act shall be steamships, owned and offi- R. S., 4132. cered by American citizens, in conformity with the exist- Aug. 24, 1912. ing laws, or so owned and officered and registered accord- Aug. 18, 1914.
ing to law, and upon each departure from the United
They shall be divided into four classes. The first shall be iron or steel screw steamships, capable of maintaining a speed of twenty knots an hour at sea in ordinary weather, and of a gross registered tonnage of not less than eight thousand tons. No vessel except of said first class shall be accepted for said mail service under the provisions of this act between the United States and Great Britain. The second class shall be iron or steel steamships, capable of maintaining a speed of sixteen knots an hour at sea in ordinary weather, and of a gross registered tonnage of not less than five thousand tons. The third class shall be iron or steel steamships, capable of maintaining a speed of fourteen knots an hour at sea in ordinary weather, and of a gross registered tonnage of not less than two thousand five hundred tons. The fourth class shall be iron or steel or wooden steam-ships, capable of maintaining a speed of twelve knots an hour at sea in ordinary weather, and of a gross registered tonnage of not less than fifteen hundred tons. It shall be stipulated in the contract or contracts to be entered into for the said mail service that said vessels may carry passengers with their baggage in addition to said mails and may do all ordinary business done by steam-ships.
All steamships of the first, second, and third classes employed as above and hereafter built shall be constructed with particular reference to prompt and economical conversion into auxiliary naval cruisers, and according to plans and specifications to be agreed upon by and between the owners and the Secretary of the Navy, and they shall be of sufficient strength and stability to carry and sustain the working and operation of at least four effective rifled cannon of a caliber of not less than six inches, and shall be of the highest rating known to maritime commerce. And all vessels of said three classes heretofore built and so employed shall, before they are accepted for the mail service herein provided for, be thoroughly inspected by a competent naval officer or constructor detailed for that service by the Secretary of the Navy; and such officer shall report, in writing, to the Secretary of the Navy, who shall transmit said report to the Postmaster-General; and no such vessel not approved by the Secretary of the Navy as suitable for the service required shall be employed by the Postmaster-General as provided for in this act.
The rate of compensation to be paid for such ocean Sec. 5. mail service of the said first-class ships shall not exceed the sum of four dollars a mile, and for the second-class ships two dollars a mile, by the shortest practicable route, for each outward voyage; for the third-class ships not to exceed one dollar a mile, and for the fourth-class ships two-thirds of one dollar a mile, for the actual number of miles required by the Post Office Department to be traveled on each outward bound voyage: Provided, That in the case of failure from any cause to perform the regular voyages stipulated for in said contracts or any of them, a pro rata deduction shall be made from the compensation on account of such omitted voyage or voyages; and that suitable fines and penalties may be imposed for delays or irregularities in the due performance of service according to the contract, to be determined by the PostmasterGeneral: Provided further, That no steamship so em
oyed and so paid for carrying the United States mails shall receive any other bounty or subsidy from the Treasury of the United States.
Upon each of said vessels the United States shall be Sec. 6. entitled to have transported, free of charge, a mail-messenger, whose duty it shall be to receive, sort, take in charge and deliver the mails to and from the United States, and who shall be provided with suitable room for the accommodation of himself and the mails.
The officers of the United States Navy may volunteer Sec. 7. for service on said mail vessels, and when accepted by the contractor or contractors, may be assigned to such duty by the Secretary of the Navy whenever in his opinion such assignment can be made without detriment to the service, and while in said employment they shall receive furlough pay from the Government, and such other compensation from the contractor or contractors as may be agreed upon by the parties: Provided, That they shall only be required to perform such duties as appertain to the merchant service.
Said vessels shall take, as cadets or apprentices, one Sec. 8. American-born boy, under twenty-one years of age for each one thousand tons gross register, and one for each majority fraction thereof, who shall be educated in the duties of seamanship, rank as petty officers, and receive such pay for their services as may be reasonable.
Such steamers may be taken and used by the United Sec. 9. States as transports or cruisers, upon payment to the owners of the fair actual value of the same at the time of the taking, and if there shall be a disagreement as to the fair actual value of the same at the time of the taking, and if there shall be a disagreement as to the fair actual value between the United States and the owners, then the same shall be determined by two impartial appraisers,
Mar. 9, 1914.
R. S., 3969.
one to be appointed by each of said parties, they at the
For transportation of foreign mails, $4,000,000: ProMar. 4, 1915.' vided, That the Postmaster General shall be authorized to
expend such sums as may be necessary, not exceeding $116,000, to cover the cost to the United States of maintaining sea post service on steamships conveying the mails, and not exceeding $87,900 for transferring the foreign mail from incoming steamships in New York Bay to the steamship and railway piers, for transferring the foreign mail from incoming steamships in San Francisco Bay to the piers, and for transporting the foreign mail from incoming steamships at Honolulu from quarantine to the piers; also for transferring the mail from steamships performing service under contract for transporting United States mail.
The Postmaster-General may cause the mail to be carried in any steamboat or other vessel used as a packet on
any of the waters of the United States. R. S., 3970. The Postmaster-General may, if he deem it for the pub
lic interest, make contracts for any period not exceeding one year, for carrying the mails in steamships between any of the ports of the United States.
Upon the entry of every such vessel returning from any foreign port, the master thereof shall make oath that he has promptly delivered all the mail placed on board said vessel before clearance from the United States; and if he shall fail to make such oath the vessel shall not be entitled to the privileges of a vessel of the United States.
The master or other person having charge or control of Repeals R. S., any steamboat or other vessel passing between ports or
places in the United States, arriving at any such port or place where there is a post-office, shall deliver to the postmaster or at the post-office within three hours after his arrival, if in the daytime, and if at night, within two hours after the next sunrise, all letters and packages brought by him or within his power or control and not relating to the cargo, addressed to or destined for such port or place, for which he shall receive from the postmaster two cents for each letter or package so delivered, unless the same is carried under a contract for carrying the mail; and for every failure so to deliver such letters or packages, the master or other person having charge or control of such steamboat or other vessel, shall be fined not more than one hundred and fifty dollars.
The Postmaster-General may pay, to the master or owner of any vessel not regularly employed in carrying the mail, two cents for each letter carried by such vessel between ports or places in the United States, or from any foreign port to any port in the United States; but all such letters shall be deposited in the post-office at the port of arrival.
R. S., 3976.
Mar. 4, 1909.
R. S., 3978.
No vessel departing from the United States for any R. S., 3987. foreign port shall receive on board or convey any letter or packet originating in the United States which has not been regularly received from the post-office at the port of departure, and which does not relate to the cargo of such vessel, except as provided in section three thousand nine hundred and ninety-three; and every collector, or other officer of the port empowered to grant clearances, shall require from the master of such vessel, as a condition of clearance, an oath that he has not received on board, has not under his care or control, and will not receive or convey any letter or packet contrary to the provisions of this section.
No vessel arriving within a port or collection district Mar. 4, 1909. of the United States shall be allowed to make entry or Repeals R. S., break bulk until all letters on board are delivered to the nearest post-office, and the master or other person having charge or control thereof has signed and sworn to the following declaration before the collector or other proper customs officer: I, A. B., master
arriving from and now lying in the port of do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I have to the best of my knowledge and belief delivered to the post-office at
every letter and every bag, packet, or parcel of letters which was on board the said vessel during her last voyage, or which were in my possession or under my power or control.
And any master or other person having charge or control of such vessel who shall break bulk before he has delivered such letters shall be fined not more than one hundred dollars.
Any special agent of the Post-Office Department, when R. S., 3989. instructed by the Postmaster-General to make examinations and seizures, and the collector or other customs officers of any port, without special instructions, shall carefully search all vessels for letters which may be on board or which have been conveved contrary to law.
Any special agent of the Post-Office Department, col- R. S., 3990. lector, or other customs officer, or United States marshal or his deputy, may at all times seize all letters and bags, packets or parcels, containing letters which are being carried contrary to law on board any vessel or any postroute, and convey the same to the nearest post-office, or may, by the direction of the Postmaster-General or Secretary of the Treasury, detain them until two months after the final determination of all suits and proceedings which may, at any time within six months after such seizure, be brought against any person for sending or carrying such letters.
Every package or parcel seized by any special agent of R. S., 3991. the Post-Office Department, collector, or other customs officer, or United States marshal or his deputies, in which