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Mr. WEBSTER. That is probably an error in copying because the copy they gave me this morning has July 29. The mimeograph has July
Mr. HARRIS. I just wanted to be sure we had the same thing. Mr. WEBSTER. The mimeograph attached, which is the substantive matter, is mimeograph 22109. Yes, sir; that is what I have. Mr. HARRIS. That is what I have.
Without objection, it will be filed for the record at this point. (The matter referred to was inserted with the Commission's report on the bill.)
Mr. WEBSTER. As I said, Mr. Chairman, I have no prepared statement, and in the interest of saving time, I think I can condense into 3 or 4 short comments in regard to the bill what I have to say. Parenthetically, Mr. Chairman, I would like to draw your attention, at least for the record, to the fact that way back in 1940, at the instigation of Congress, the Commission made a study of this problem on inland waters in regard to safety; the use of radio for safety on boats. We submitted a report to both Houses of Congress that came out a Senate Document 318, dated 1941.
I just bring that to your attention to show you that the Commission has in the past had this particular study under consideration.
Unfortunately, nothing was done about that report over the years. Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Commissioner, I believe it was understood yesterday that when you handed in the comments this morning you were to make a statement and that the comments would apply to H. R. 7789, by Mr. O'Neill, as well as 7536.
Mr. WEBSTER. That is correct.
Mr. HARRIS. That is your intention?
Mr. WEBSTER. The two bills are exactly alike; yes, sir. I will be commenting on them both.
Now, the Commission, of course, is in accord with the objectives of this bill for the protection and safety of life and property. Those words appear in the preamble of the Communications Act of 1934. So we are in accordance with the objectives of the bill which would require, by statute, that certain vessels carrying passengers for hire be equipped with a radio telephone installation.
Now, I would like to refer to section 381, which is the crux of the bill and establishes the formula as to what boats shall be equipped. It is very simple.
This bill will apply to a vessel transporting a passenger or passengers for hire on tideland waters.
Now, I have a suggestion to make, because of the very large number of boats that will come in under this bill. I think it was testified to yesterday that there will be around 7,000, and I think that is quite true. It will be a large number, in that area of, say, 7,000.
We may have some difficulties in enforcing and administering such a large number, but if it is the sense of the Congress that we should take in every vessel even though it only carries one passenger, we have no objection to that. I simply throw out the suggestion that you might wish to key the formula somewhat to the Coast Guard where they are authorized to certificate passenger-carrying vessels. I think their limit is around 15 tons. They use tonnage as a limitation.
I think you had a bill up before you the other day which I have not seen, but have heard rumors about, that had some element of the
formula that is used from their point of view for licensing of around six passengers. I am not familiar with the details of it.
I bring this out to show you that there are various formulas that can be used, short of this overall formula of only one passenger.
So that if you wish to key it more to the Coast Guard, section 381 could be amended with appropriate language, and I simply offhand make the suggestion that it be vessels required to be licensed or certificated with the Coast Guard to carry passengers for hire. That would bring the two organizations somewhat together as to what vessels are to come under licensing and what vessels are to be under the radio provisions.
Mr. HINSHAW. Mr. Webster, may I inquire whether this will get very far into the sports fishing fleet?
Mr. WEBSTER. It would; yes, sir.
Mr. HINSHAW. Now, that is a business which is pretty expensive right now, and if you are going to have a licensed radio operator on each of those fishing vessels, which are also pretty expensive at this time, you will put some of them or many of them out of business. They will be out of business entirely. And I suggest that it would be better to not include the sports fishing.
Mr. WEBSTER. Well, we have not taken any position in regard to any exceptions. Personally, I feel that if you set up a formula that it should apply to all that carry the number of passengers that you are concerned with.
Mr. HINSHAW. I am not particularly concerned about the carrying of a radio telephone, but if we are going to have a separate licensed operator, as provided in this bill, on duty on each ship as provided here, I suggest that nobody will be able to hire a sports fishing vessel.
Mr. WEBSTER. I do not read into this bill that you must have a radio operator, a licensed operator, performing the same type of duty that you have on the large ships.
You know the act already provides that a radio installation can only be operated by a licensed operator and in the telephone service we have a licensed operator certificate that is obtained by a very simple examination. We have thousands of them.
Mr. HINSHAW. Well, that is true. And most sports vessels are equipped with radio telephones.
Mr. WEBSTER. That is correct.
Mr. HINSHAW. Nearly all of them are, as a matter of fact, but if they have to hire an extra operator, it would be prohibitive.
Mr. HARRIS. Yesterday, if I may say so, that was thoroughly discussed, and it was shown that it would not be necessary to have extra personnel as a result of this proposal.
Mr. WEBSTER. No more certainly than they have today. The act already requires that the equipment cannot be operated except by a licensed operator. That is fundamental. That is the act. That is not in this bill.
So that they have to carry someone and it is usually the master of the boat that gets the license. It is a very simple one.
So, I do not see from the licensed operator point of view that there will be any extra expense.
Mr. HARRIS. In view of the fact that both Mr. Macdonald, who is the author of this bill, and Mr. Hale, who is very much interested in
this proposal, are members of this committee, when we get into executive session, that will be thoroughly discussed, I am sure.
Mr. HALE. May I ask a question?
Mr. HARRIS. Yes, Mr. Hale.
Mr. HALE. The ordinary requirements of vessels carrying passengers. for hire with respect to life preservers, lights, fog signals, and so on, are subject to enforcement by the Coast Guard.
Mr. WEBSTER. That is correct.
Mr. HALE. Now, it seems to me, if we make any requirement of this kind, that the Coast Guard could handle it without bothering the Federal Communications Commission.
Mr. WEBSTER. I think they can carry on a certain amount of enforcement. We already cooperate, or they cooperate with us, in the enforcement. They are in a very good position to do some of the enforcing work, but the act provides for our inspection and enforcement of all radio laws. So that there is no reason why the two organizations cannot work very closely together, and we do that today.
Mr. HALE. The Coast Guard is well equipped to see to the enforcement of laws affecting vessels of all kinds, as you point out in this statement, and I should think that it would be very difficult for the Federal Communications Commission to have the responsibility for enforcing this law in many places where it presumably has no personnel.
Mr. WEBSTER. Mr. Congressman and Mr. Chairman, that was my next point that I was going to bring up, which is not a section of the bill, but I did think that I ought to mention the question of enforcement. It is a most serious problem to us. Not only would this be serious, but it is a very serious problem today in the enforcement in the conduct of the radiotelephone system in the marine service, which is apart from any added enforcement under this bill here.
If you add 7,000, or if you bring 7,000 boats in under this bill, you will have one degree of enforcement. If another formula is used where it might be lowered to say 2,600 boats or 3,000 boats, we would have another variation of enforcement.
The present act only applies to large vessels going into the open There are only 1,800 of those. So when you increase the enforcement problem from 1,800 to, say, 7,000 or 8,000, it is going to be quite a burden.
I was taking for granted that the Appropriations Committee would decide as to how deep we would go into enforcement.
The present force that we have, field force, here in Washington, would be insufficient, of course, to adequately, in my opinion, enforce it. I think you would have to lean very heavily on the integrity of the boatowner and, of course, we do that in many fields.
Mr. HALE. Rely on what?
Mr. WEBSTER. On the boatowner and the master of the boat, and, of course, we do that in many fields. We have to rely on people obeying the law, but there is a certain amount of checking up and inspection that should be done to make them alive to the fact that they must comply.
Now the only alternative that I know is to throw the burden on them and take that very big calculated risk which is involved, because the situation on the small boats is entirely different than it is on the large seagoing vessels.
On the large seagoing vessels you have responsible men; you have a master, mate, and a crew, and you have a very highly, comparatively speaking, qualified radio operator on the large ships that takes care of his equipment, but the experience on the small boat, where there is no technically qualified man required, is that the master relies entirely on somebody on shore to keep his equipment in good shape. Experience shows that the average man on a small boat knows nothing about his equipment, so he is not in a position to keep it in good operating condition.
So you have a different situation on the small boat than you do on the large, and I think that presents to us an enforcement problem that goes beyond the one for the big boats.
The present telephone system often around our coast today is overloaded. We are having a great deal of difficulty in enforcing the rules and regulations because when the small boat gets offshore, there is nobody to watch him. He does almost as he pleases. He can talk over the telephone and takes up the time over the circuit. It is very difficult to catch him. You haven't any way of spotting him, so that you can take him to court. So that the enforcement problem is a difficult one, but I am not bringing that out as a deterrent to this legislation. I simply think it is fair to tell you that there will be a difficult enforcement problem.
There is one practical problem, the last item that I was going to mention, that you might wish to look at, and that is the very last provision which sets up a final date that this bill is to be put into effect. Now, of course, the date that is mentioned there would have to be changed, because the time has come and gone.
To fix a firm date might lead to some difficulty and I was wondering whether or not it would be satisfactory if there were some wording which would indicate some months or a year or some years after the bill became law. There is a lot of administrative work to be done between the time the bill becomes law and the time it goes into effect. We have rulemaking. We have to write up specifications. We have got to go to the Bureau of the Budget and go through the budgetary mechanism.
The manufacturers will all wait until we come out with our rules before they start any new production and so, all along the line there are certain things that have to be done.
Mr. ROGERS. Mr. Chairman, may I interrupt at this point?
Mr. HARRIS. Mr. Rogers.
Mr. ROGERS. You were speaking of the manufacturers waiting. Mr. WEBSTER. Yes.
Mr. ROGERS. Is not the main difficulty with the legislation of this type, the main concern, the cost of the apparatus that will be necessary to comply with these requirements?
Mr. WEBSTER. I was anticipating that question would be asked, that type of question. I was not raising it because I was sure that you would.
Mr. ROGERS. I mean, I feel that way about it. I think everyone is interested in saving life and making every provision for saving life that is possible, but there is a certain cost involved. Some people feel they cannot afford it.
Now, do you anticipate a reduction in the cost of present apparatus or the development of other apparatus that will meet a requirement
of this kind that will be low enough in cost where it would not be a great burden on the boat owners?
Mr. WEBSTER. I would like to answer that this way, sir: In all my experience in the safety game-and I have had 30 years or more at it- -as you know, I am a retired Coast Guard officer- -as soon as the law is passed that requires the boat to have something particular, whether it be radio or life preservers or what not, the standard of that piece of equipment rises over what was manufactured or used before-not because of Webster, but because of the very attitude of the administrative part of our Government. They begin to look on that as a more stringent requirement than for something that you put on board voluntarily and in order to protect the law and protect the Government and the responsibility of the Government, because the Government has assumed some measure of responsibility when they pass a law, your standards are going to increase a little. I do not mean by that that they are going to throw everything out previously used, but the administrative body is going to take a very careful look at it.
Now, at that point, when you start looking at a boat, and a small boat in particular-if you have ever been out on one, and I am sure that you have on some of your small boats which are going out to sea, you have got to have, if you are going to depend on a piece of radio equipment, you have got to have a piece of equipment that can stand the rigors of boating. And it is not when you are in still waters that you want it. It is when you are out there in trouble that you want it, and that is when you want the equipment to work, and you have got to gear your specifications and everything to that one time out there when you need it. You had the Marvel case before you the other day I understand. I was not here and did not hear it. There was a question there that the radio equipment may not have worked properly but that was the time it was needed. It is not when he was in still waters over on the other side of the bay. He needed it right on this side.
Mr. ROGERS. Now, Mr. Commissioner, let us assume that this bill should pass, how much increase, percentagewise, would there be in production or the demand for the type of equipment that is now being used in this connection?
Mr. WEBSTER. I have not been able to find any figures that would give me any percentages. There are a large number of those boats that already carry a radio today. Now, I am not going to promise anyone that that equipment on there today is going to stay on under this bill, because as I outlined a minute ago, the Government has taken a responsibility, and you may have to increase the specification somewhat. You may have to take or he may have to take his equipment off and get brandnew equipment.
Now, I do not know, because I have not seen these boats-I mean, the 7,000 of them.
Mr. HARRIS. Will the gentleman yield there?
Mr. ROGERS. Yes; I will yield.
Mr. HARRIS. That is a point I was going to ask about and I might as well do it here.
In your comments you mention 7,000. You have mentioned it a couple of times this morning. Yesterday in testifying, Mr. Macdonald, I believe, mentioned the figure 45,000.
Mr. WEBSTER. May I correct that?
Mr. HARRIS. Yes.