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REPORT OF COMMITTEE UPON GENERAL DIVISIONS
Y AND 8 OF THE PROGRAMME.
Committee No. 2.
To consider and report upon General Divisions 7 and 8.
(a) With regard to the avoidance of steamei collisions. (6) With regard to the safety of fishermen.
GENERAL DIVISION 8.
NIGHT SIGNALS FOR COMMUNICATING INFORMATION AT SEA.
(a) A code to be used in connection with the International Code Sig. nal book.
(6) Or a supplementary code of limited scope to convey information of special importance to passing vessels. (c) Distress signals.
LANES FOR STEAMERS ON FREQUENTED ROUTES.
WASHINGTON, December 6, 1889. Rear-Admiral S. R. FRANKLIN, U. S. Navy,
President of the International Marine Conference, etc. SIR: Committee No. 2 beg leave to report on General Division No. 7, entitled, “ Lanes for Steamers on Frequented Routes," that after consideration of various routes they concluded to report only upon the North Atlantic route, between ports of North America and ports of Northern Europe, as the route upon which there was apparently the greater demand for such lanes, if such could be advantageously laid down on any ocean or sea.
It appears that the adherence of fast steam passenger vessels to certain southerly routes would tend to the avoidance of fog and ice, and the committee adopted a resolution to the effect that it was desirable, during the spring and summer months, that such vessels should follow a southern route which would clear the banks of Newfoundland, and be likely to be clear of fog and ice, but when it came to proposing any plan to make such ocean lanes compulsory, the committee found the subject one of such difficulty that they do not recommend a proposition of that nature.
The difficulty of enforcing the present rule providing for moderate speed in thick weather, suggests what greater difficulties would be met with in enforcing lane routes if made compulsory, and it was not thought desirable to lay down routes by international agreement unless they were to be made compulsory for swift steamers.
Routes that might be proposed would be in danger of invasion by ice during the spring and summer months, and at all times would be crossed by sailing vessels and steamers going north and south. If laid down on parallels of latitude which seemed to favor one seaport at the expense of another, or the ports of one country at the expense of the ports of another country, they would arouse opposition that would probably prevent their adoption.
It is possible that, even in the near future, vessels may be employed of such power and speed that all such considerations may have to give way to the paramount consideration of safety ; but, so far as shown to the committee, present conditions do not seem to justify an international agreement to that effect. It was not shown to the committee that collisions in mid-ocean between fast ocean steamers had taken place, or that the danger was great enough to justify enforced adherence to certain lanes. Collisions between fast steamships, so far, have occurred nearer the coasts, where all tracks must converge.
The committee believe, however, that the voluntary establishment of, and adherence to, particular routes by the different steamship companies for different seasons of the year is very desirable. In fact, the committee are of opinion that such action by the steamship companies, with the experience to be gained thereby, would be quite essential before any concerted action by the maritime powers could be profitably taken.
The committee therefore strongly recommend that the companies interested should, by mutual agreement, after consultation together, establish routes for the different lines, and make them public, in order that the hydrographic offices of the various governments may publish them for the information of navigators.
The committee have considered the opinions of several persons in the printed matter that has been laid before them. With the exception of one or two definite propositions, the literature before the Conference does not show how such lane routes could be laid down. Even those containing such propositions arrive at the conclusion that such routes could not be made compulsory. In Appendix A will be found extracts or copies of the papers laid before them.
SUBSECTION b: With regard to the safety of fishermen upon the North Atlantic Ocean, the committee are of opinion that their safety would be best promoted by unceasing vigilance on the part of the fishermen, and by careful compliance by all with the present rules for the prevention of collisious, especially as to the efficiency of lights and sound-signals. If lanes were established which carried the fast steamers clear of the banks frequented by the fishermen it might promote such a sense of security on their part as would tend to carelessness with reference to the rules as at present laid down, and lead to danger from the slower vessels which would still frequent the banks.
During the months when the fishing vessels most frequent the Banks the fear of encountering fog and ice leads many of the steamers to go south of them.
Quick passages are what the steam-vessels aim at in response to the public demand for swift passenger and mail service, and if they were compelled to obey existing rules regarding moderate speed in fogs at all times and in all places they would avoid the banks still more in order to go clear of fogs; and thus it seems that the solution of the problem before the committee, namely, of low to induce steam-ships of great speed to take safer routes to avoid fogs, ice, and danger of collision with fishermen and other ressels, is in compelling obedience to the present rules regarding moderate speed in thick weather. The enforcement of these rules would make it for the interest of such vessels to take routes comparatively clear of fogs and ice and thus attain the end which compulsory legislation might fail to do.
In Appendix B will be found some correspondence regarding the
dangers of fishermen upon the banks, from which it will be observed that vigilance regarding lights and sound-signals have been found efficient safeguards in most instances.
Delegate for Denmark. HENRI LANNELUC,
Delegate for France. CHRISTIAN DONNER,
Delegate for Germany.
Delegate for Great Britain.
Delegate for Hawaii.
Delegate for Portugal. FREDERICK MALMBERG,
Delegate for Sweden. D. HUBERT,
Delegate for The Netherlands. JOHN W. SHACKFORD,
Delegate for the United States.
LANES FOR STEAMERS ON FREQUENTED ROUTES.
[Extract from letter written by C. A. Griscom, president of International Navigation
Company, November 21, 1889. ]
There can be no doubt that the risk of collision is the principal dan. ger to be apprehended in the navigation of modern steam-ships, and no one thing will contribute more to lessen this risk than the establishment of lane routes in the now already crowded North Atlantic.
My own view is that the lanes we have adopted are the most prudent, viz, to keep south of 42 when crossing the meridian of 50, from the 15th February to the 15th of August, and a safe distance south of the Virgins the rest of the year, separating east-bound and west-bound tracks at the meridian of 500 about one degree.
While we pursue this practice with the steamers under our management—some twenty-six—the good effect thereof is, of course, almost negative, so far as the lane feature is concerned, because the practice is not general.
[Extract from letter written by W. Bussius, N. G. Lloyd, S. S. Werra, April 13, 1889).
I would say that in the vicinity of Long Island, Nantucket, and St. George's shoal grounds, I think it absolutely necessary to establish lanes for steam-ships apart. This can be done very easily, eren if astronomic observations are not at hand and the position of a ship doubtful.
A westward-bound ship to keep north; that means in 40 to 35 or 30 fathoms of water by soundings, when thick weather prevails. Here the ship will find pilots as their position is in this line.
An eastward-bound ship ought to steer from Sandy Hook east by south one-quarter south to the 90-fathom soundings, then east on deep soundings. This will cause steamers to go safely almost 500 west, if the eastward-bound steamers keep warm water during summer, or, say, in latitude 41°. I have proved it dozens of times that in summer a dis. tance of 80 to 90 miles is gained eastward by the Gulf Stream between Sandy Hook and Scilly, if I kept well to the southward. I shall not fail to run these Southern routes this summer.
[Extract from letter written by Arthur W. Lewis, master S. S. City of New York, 1889.]
With regard to perfect safety, lane routes, especially on the Atlantic, are greatly to be desired.
During the ice season on the Atlantic ships boudd east ought to make the lane routes in the great circle that crosses lat. 400 N., long. 500 W.; those coming west lat. 41° and 500 W.
Northern routes about 40 miles south of Virgins, bound west, to latitude 430 and lovg. 500 bound east.
Fisherman on the Grand Banks, as well as in other portions of the globe, ought to have defined grounds to operate in and out of them, and to be there at their own risk.
[Extract from letter written by Captain Horatio McKay, of the Cunard steam-ship
Aurania, March, 1889.)
In regard to my opinions about ocean tracks, lengthened experience only serves to emphasize present views,
namely: Definite easterly and westerly tracks, more or less south of the Banks. I am still strongly impressed with these conclusions, notwithstanding the steady adherence to the northerly route by the great majority of steam-ship lines.
PROPOSAL AS TO LANES FOR STEAMERS.
It can hardly be doubted that lanes or tracks for coming and going steam-ships would in a great measure tend to increase the safety of navi