Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, Transmitted to Congress, With the Annual Message of the President, December 7, 1874
Mr. Goodenow to Mr Fish.
Constantinople, March 18, 1874. (Received April 10.)
Sir: Herewith. I have the honor to transmit an abridgment of the final report of the international tonnage commission, held at Constantinople, in 1873, which I cat from yesterday’s issue of the Levant Herald. The report has not been officially communicated to this legation.
I have, &c,
From the “Levant Herald.”
abridgment oe the final report of the international tonnage commission held at constantinople in 1873.
The letters upon the Suez Canal question, communicated to us by a Cairo correspondent, and published in this journal on Thursday last, lend to the “final report” of the international tonnage commission a renewed interest, and we accordingly give the following abstract of the report:
The international tonnage commission, held at Constantinople, pursuing, in the first instance, its researches as to the best method of ascertaining the entire capacity and the utilizable capacity of a ship, and, consequently thereon, examining into the actual conditions of the levying of navigation dues by the Suez Canal Company, has divided its labors into two separate parts:
- The general question of tonnage.
- The question of the levying of dues for passing through the Suez Canal.
By adopting everywhere uniform rules for admeasurement, shipping will everywhere be taxed in a uniform and equitable manner.
Such a unification of tonnage can be realized by adopting a formula which unites the three following conditions:
- To measure the internal capacity of a ship with all the precision which can be attained practically by geometrical calculation.
- To reduce this capacity into tons, by adopting for common divisor a unit of measurement, which gives as quotient an average of all the variable conditions in which ships are employed.
- Not to admit for the determination of net tonnage, which serves as a basis for the levying of dues, any deduction, except on the condition that the deducted spaces shall not be employed for the conveyance either of passengers or of merchandise.
The commission has decided to adopt as the unit of measurement the ton of capacity of the Moorsom system, of 100 English cubic feet, or 283 cubic meters, a process for the measurement of a ship’s capacity originated by England in 1854, and adopted by most of the maritime powers with some variations in practice. However, with regard to the net tonnage of steamships, the rules laiddown by the English law of 1854 are unsatisfactory in respect to the deduction for the space occupied by the engines being calculated at a percentage on the gross tonnage. Moreover, there is a difference in the deductions made for the coal-bunkers, accordingly as they are either fixed or provided with movable bulk-heads.
The commission recommends that the ship’s papers should show a schedule of all the particulars of the admeasurement and of the reckoning by which the gross tonnage and the deductions made to determine the net tonnage have been found.
The commission also submits to the approval of the maritime powers the following considerations: All merchant-ships should be provided with a certificate of admeasurement stating the gross and the net tonnage. The certificate of admeasurement issued by the competent authorities of the state to which the ship belongs, after measurement in conformity with the rules proposed by the commission, forms the proof, which is to serve as the basis for the levying of dues imposed on the ship, and applying to net tonnage. The determination of the gross tonnage of a ship is best effected by means of the Moorsom system, and it comprises all the spaces below the upper deck, and the permanent covered and inclosed spaces on the deck. The deductions to be made from the gross tonnage, in order to determine the net tonnage are, the space for accommodation of the crew, the cabins of the officers, the cabooses and privies for the exclusive use of the crew, and the covered and inclosed spaces on deck for the navigation of the ship, the total deductions not to exceed 5 per cent, of the gross tonnage. Moreover, the deductions to be made for steamships are the engine and boiler rooms, the shaft-tunnel of screw steamships, and the fixed coal-bunkers. In case the stock of coal is kept only in movable bulk-heads or in side bunkers, the rule of the Lower Danube shall be applied, that is to say, an allowance shall be made equal to 50 per cent, of the space of the engine-room if moved by paddle-wheels, and of 75 per cent, if by screw. Steamships having fixed bunkers may also be admeasured according to this rule. However, in no case (excepting for tug-steamers) must the total deductions exceed 50 per cent, of the gross tonnage.
Until all governments shall have adopted uniform rules for net tonnage, steamships can be provided by the competent authorities of their respective states with a certificate annexed to their navigation papers, which certificate shall be received as proof of the amount of net tonnage. These rulesdo not apply to undecked ships. If any of the fixed spaces which have been deducted should be used for placing merchandise or passengers, this space shall be added to the net tonnage, and thenceforth shall never be deducted.
The commission, after expressing the wish that the rules proposed by it be adopted by all states, enters on the second part of its work, the question to be decided being put as follows:[Page 1155]
“Is the method actually applied for the levying of the dues of the Suez Canal in harmony with the stipulations of the concession and imperial firman, as interpreted by the two vizierial letters addressed to His Highness the Khedjve?”
The commission is of opinion that the method of levying the dues can be settled by a compromise on the following terms:
1st. With regard to ships measured according to the Moorsom system:
In addition to the toll of 10 francs, an extra toll of 4 francs shall be levied for every net ton register, of ships of which the deductions in respect of engines have been determined according to § a of section 33, which defines rule 3d of the English “merchant shipping act, 1854.” This extra due shall be reduced to 3 francs for every ship which shall have noted on or annexed to her navigation papers the net tonnage resulting from the system of admeasurement recommended by the international commission.
2d. With regard to ships measured by a system other than Moorsom’s, the tonnage shall be taken according to Moorsom’s system, and they shall pay, in addition to the toll of 10 francs, an extra toll of 4 francs per ton, net register, so ascertained.
3d. Stipulation common to all ships: the extra toll of 3 francs per ton, net register, shall be progressively reduced in proportion to the development of the aggregate amount of net tonnage of shipping annually passing through the Suez Canal, and in such way as that only the maximum tax of 10 francs shall be levied ultimately wherever the net tonnage during one year shall have amounted to 2,600,000 tons.
The decrease in the extra toll shall be graduated on the following scale:
As soon as the net tonnage shall have amounted during one year to 2,100,000 tons, the extra toll shall, from the commencement of the following year, be reduced to 2½ francs. As soon as the net tonnage shall have amounted to 2,200,000 tons, the extra toll shall, from the commencement of the following year, be reduced to 2 francs; and so on, each increase of 100,000 tons in one year shall be followed by a decrease of a half franc per ton in the following year, and in such manner that as soon as the tonnage shall have amounted in any one year to 2,600,000–tons, the extra toll shall be definitively suppressed, and the toll shall be 10 francs per net ton.
Ships of war, ships built or hired as transports for troops, and ships in ballast, are exempted from extra toll.