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bate on policy going on beneath the surface.
Some of that debate might well have
precipitated this present struggle. But I
think it might be well to discount, in part,
some of the day-to-day news there. We
are watching it very closely. But I think we
ought not to jump to premature conclusions
about how it's going to come out. Frankly,
we just don't know.

Mr. Harsch: And you only go so far as to
recognize it as being an internal struggle for

Secretary Rusk: I think that's at the heart
of it, yes.

Mr. Harsch: Might it affect the whole posi-
tion of China? Could it lead to a civil war in-
side China, do you think ?

Secretary Riisk: It's possible, although I
think that we ought to be very cautious about
saying that it's headed that way at the pres-
ent time.

This is basically, I think, a struggle among
the leadership elite. They may be able to find
ways to work this out among themselves
through compromise, or one group may find
itself in full control at the expense of another
group. We just don't know, quite frankly,
what that means.

Need for Ceilings on Arms Race

Mr. Harsch: I want to change to another
subject now. In the President's state of the
Union last night,^ he said that the Soviet
Union has begun to place near Moscow a
limited antimissile defense. And he deplored
this and expressed the hope that something
might be done about it. Is this a subject

which can best be handled in a sort of general
group in Geneva, or is this something that is
best handled directly between ourselves and
the Soviet Union?

Secretary Rusk: I think the two are not
necessarily contradictory, because we and the
Soviet Union are the cochairmen of the
group in Geneva. Therefore, we're in fre-
quent touch with each other about the agenda
of that conference.

Quite some time ago we put proposals be-
fore the Geneva conference for a freeze on
the further development of both offensive
and defensive nuclear weapons. We hope very
much that that can be taken up and some
conclusions reached, because we could move
simply to new plateaus of enormous expendi-
ture on both sides without basically changing
the overriding strategic situation but thereby
diverting very large resources away from the
unfinished business which both of us face
for our own people.

So that we're very serious about finding
some way to put some ceilings on the arms
race and try to turn it down. And this is one
of the important elements in that.

Mr. Harsch: Are you hopeful ?

Secretary Rusk: Oh, I think diplomacy
must always proceed on the basis of hope
and optimism, because that's our business.
And we hope very much that there can be
some progress made on this matter.

Mr. Harsch: The President says that he
urges Congress to help our foreign commer-
cial trade policies by passing an East-West
trade bill. That is going to be a difficult prob-
lem with the new Congress, is it not?

Secretary Rusk: Well, I think the atmos-
phere associated with the struggle in Viet-
Nam will make it difficult. But we do believe
that, despite Viet-Nam, we should continue
to gnaw away at any points where we can
improve our relations between East and
West, and try to build a little peace in the

Mr. Harsch: Mr. Secretary, I know that
Hugh Downs back in New York has another
question he wants to put to you. What little

' See p. 158.

JANUARY 30, 1967


time we have I reluctantly yield back to you,

Basis for Peace in Viet-Nam

Mr. Downs: On either or both sides of the
Viet-Nam war forces is there the desire not
toend that war?

Secretary Rtisk: I think that both sides
would like to end it but they differ in views
about the basis on which it can be ended.

The authorities in Hanoi continue to insist
upon their four points as a basis for the set-
tlement, and the third of those points is that
South Viet-Nam be organized on the program
of the National Liberation Front without re-
gard to the views of the overwhelming ma-
jority of the South Vietnamese.

I believe that we must keep in contact both
privately and publicly in order to explore
every possibility of a move toward peace,
whether at a conference table or, in fact,
whether with a general settlement or even a
partial settlement, because the situation is
too dangerous to permit it to go on indefi-
nitely in its present condition.

Mr. Downs: I wasn't speaking of official
policy, sir, on the — I know there f.re forces
that do desire to end the war on both sides.
I wondered if you thought there were signifi-
cant forces that desired not to end it on
either side.

Secretary Rusk: Oh, I think so, unless —
unless they can achieve particular — particu-
lar goals.

I think there are those in North Viet-Nam
who don't want to end it without having
achieved their purposes in South Viet-Nam.
And it may be that the authorities in Peking,
for example, would like to see this go on
indefinitely as a part of their general mili-
tant approach to international affairs.

But I don't believe that that, at the end of
the day, will prove to be the decisive problem
as far as peace is concerned. The problem is:
On what basis can peace be achieved? And

we're constantly probing that in every pos-
sible way.

Mr. Dotvns: Very good. And our thanks to
you for being with us this morning. Thanks
to Joseph C. Harsch, NBC diplomatic corre-

Letters of Credence


The newly appointed Ambassador of
Colombia, Hernan Echavarria Olozaga,
presented his credentials to President John-
son on January 13. For text of the Ambas-
sador's remarks and the President's reply,
see Department of State press release dated
January 13.


The newly appointed Ambassador of
Haiti, Arthur Bonhomme, presented his
credentials to President Johnson on January
13. For text of the Ambassador's remarks
and the President's reply, see Department
of State press release dated January 13.


The newly appointed Ambassador of
Indonesia, Suwito Kusumowidagdo, pre-
sented his credentials to President Johnson
on January 13. For text of the Ambassador's
remarks and the President's reply, see De-
partment of State press release dated
January 13.


The newly appointed Ambassador of
Turkey, Melih Esenbel, presented his cre-
dentials to President Johnson on January 13.
For text of the Ambassador's remarks and
the President's reply, see Department of
State press release dated January 13.



In this article written especially for the Bulletin, WiUiam
K. Miller, Director of the Office of Maritime Affairs, dis-
cusses the actions taken in the past year to update interruv-
tional safety standards for passenger ships. Mr. Miller was
chairman of the U.S. delegation to the Extraordinary As-
sembly of IMCO, which approved the new standards in
November 1966.

New International Rules for Passenger-Ship Safety

by William K. Miller

Early morning radio listeners on Novem-
ber 13, 1965, were shocked to hear the news
that the cruise ship Yarmouth Castle, with
376 passengers aboard, was ablaze at sea
between Miami and Nassau. Later reports
brought the tragic news that 88 of the
ship's passengers, most of them American
citizens, and 2 of the crew — 90 persons in
all — had lost their lives.

The Yarmouth Castle was a ship of 5,000
tons operating under Panamanian registry.
On the cruise on which she burned, as on the
other cruises, her passengers were nearly
all American citizens, and so, consequently,
were most of the casualties. The tragedy
occurred less than 2 years after the Lakonia,
also a passenger vessel, had burned at sea
with the loss of 125 lives.

In the United States there was, very
naturally, an immediate and intense public
demand for Government action to improve
the safety standards of passenger ships
which sail from U.S. ports, particularly of
old ships like the Yarmouth Castle.

It was clear that the international rules
governing safety of life at sea had to be
upgraded. To do this the United States
turned to the Intergovernmental Maritime
Consultative Organization (IMCO), the 64-
member specialized agency of the United
Nations which deals particularly with tech-

nical matters affecting shipping and has
special responsibility for safety of life at
sea. IMCO has had a notably successful
record of cooperative efforts by its members
in agreeing on and improving international
standards in its area of competence.

IMCO responded to the United States' call
for a cooperative effort, and on November
30, 1966, the Third Extraordinary IMCO
Assembly approved a series of amendments
to the Convention for Safety of Life at Sea
(SOLAS) that will improve the fire-safety
standards for passenger vessels, particularly
for the older ships that constitute the great-
est risks.

Approval of these amendments just a year
after the Yarmouth Castle disaster repre-
sents unusually rapid handling of a matter
involving so many countries. The action
culminated a year of intensive effort by U.S.
Government agencies, assisted by maritime
safety experts of major maritime nations
and by the machinery of IMCO.

Convention for Safety of Life at Sea

The international requirements for fire
safety have been established in a series of
conventions for safety of life at sea, the
first of which was signed in 1929, with
subsequent conventions signed in 1948 and

JANUARY 30, 1967


Each convention represented a substantial
improvement over the predecessor conven-
tion, and each did much to improve safety-
standards around the world; but even the
newer conventions, those of 1948 and 1960,
had major weaknesses. These were escape
clauses or "grandfather" clauses, which pro-
vided that ships existing when the 1948
convention came into force need not comply
with the new requirements beyond the extent
that each government considered "reason-
able and practicable." Hence the two
conventions meant major safety improve-
ments for new ships — the 1948 convention
notably for fire safety and the 1960 con-
vention notably for subdivision and stabil-
ity — but they did not do much about many
of the oldest ships and worst risk cases.

Currently 57 governments are parties to
the 1960 SOLAS Convention, which became
effective May 26, 1965, including the govern-
ments of all of the principal maritime
nations of the world. A satisfactory amend-
ment of the convention, therefore, means
adequate safety rules in most of the world's
maritime traffic.

The convention provides for its own
amendment through the machinery of IMCO.
Under the most practical amendment proce-
dure, there are at least three major steps:
First, recommendations must be adopted by
the Maritime Safety Committee, IMCO's
principal technical body, by a two-thirds
majority; second, the recommended amend-
ments must be adopted by the IMCO As-
sembly, again by a two-thirds majority;
and third, the amendments must be accepted
by two-thirds of the contracting govern-
ments to the SOLAS Convention.

Amendments so approved may be deter-
mined to be of such an important nature
that any contracting government that
declares it does not accept them must cease
to be a party to the convention. This pro-
vision does not mean that a government
which does not act on the amendments
automatically ceases to be a party; a specific
negative action is needed. A determination

of an "important nature" in this sense also
requires approval by a two-thirds majority
in the IMCO Assembly and two-thirds of the
contracting governments to the SOLAS Con-

IMCO Maritime Safety Committee Action

Immediately after the Yarmouth Castle
fire, the State Department, in the closest
cooperation with other Government agencies,
called for the earliest possible meeting of
the IMCO Maritime Safety Committee to
consider proposals for new fire-safety stand-
ards. At its regular January meeting the
Committee scheduled a special meeting solely
for this purpose at London May 3-10, 1966.
This allowed time for preparation of tech-
nical proposals, among which was a paper
drawn up by the U.S. Coast Guard and cir-
culated in March to other governments for
consideration before the meeting.

In preparation for the meeting Assistant
Secretary of State for Economic Affairs
Anthony M. Solomon, accompanied by Rear
Adm. Charles P. Murphy, USCG, traveled
to a number of European capitals to explain
the importance the United States attached to
these proposals and to ask support for them.

When the Maritime Safety Committee met
in May, Ambassador at Large W. Averell
Harriman made a key opening statement ^
on behalf of the U.S. proposals.

The Committee adopted a series of amend-
ments to the SOLAS Convention, incorpo-
rating most of the substance of the U.S.
proposals as they related to existing passen-
ger ships. There were some improvements
resulting from the interchange of expert
views, and there were some compromises;
but the overall result was satisfactory.

The Committee also recommended a few
changes in the regulations applying to new
ships to be constructed in the future, but
left this job, for the most part, to a second
stage and assigned its Fire Safety Subcom-

' For text, see Bulletin of June 13, 1966, p. 952.



mittee the task of developing comprehensive

Following the Maritime Safety Com-
mittee's action, the IMCO Council arranged
for a special session of the IMCO Assembly,
the organization's plenary body, to be con-
vened November 28, 1966, nearly a year
before the next regular Assembly, scheduled
for October 1967. An earlier date could not
be set since the SOLAS Convention provides
that prospective amendments must be com-
municated to the Contracting Governments
at least 6 months before Assembly consider-

United States Legislation

Before IMCO's action was completed, the
U.S. Congress passed legislation comple-
menting the proposed SOLAS amendments.

The Yarmouth Castle disaster was fol-
lowed in 1966 by two more ship fires, the
Viking Princess on a cruise from Florida
and the Hanseatic at her pier in New York.
Fortunately, there was no loss of life directly
due to the fires in these incidents, but they
did further emphasize the need to make
ships safer.

The administration, early in 1966, pro-
posed legislation including provisions for
disclosure and notice to the public of safety
standards of U.S. and foreign passenger
ships leaving U.S. ports, financial responsi-
bility of operators against death and per-
sonal injury and against nonperformance of
the voyage, removal of the present low ship-
owner liability limits, ajid higher minimum
safety standards for U.S. passenger ships
on inland waters. (All U.S. oceangoing
passenger ships already meet very high
safety standards.) Senate and House com-
mittees held hearings on these proposals in
April, June, and October and ultimately
approved most of the measures proposed by
the administration.

Basically, with the exception of the pro-
posal to remove the liability limits, all of the
specific recommendations of the executive

agencies were incorporated in the new law,
P.L. 89-777, enacted November 6, 1966.

One new provision was added. This re-
quires that passenger ships which do not
comply with the safety standards of SOLAS
1960, as modified by the amendments pro-
posed in May, shall not depart U.S. ports
with passengers who are U.S. nationals and
who embarked at those ports. This provision
is to be effective when the amendments
proposed by the IMCO Maritime Safety
Committee last May come into force, but in
any case not later than November 2, 1968.

The new law will require all passenger-
ship operators to give notice of a ship's
safety standards to prospective passengers,
both in promotional literature and in adver-
tising, under regulations which the Coast
Guard is now preparing. It was made clear
both in the Senate Commerce Committee's
report and in the testimony of Adm. Willard
J. Smith, the Commandant of the Coast
Guard, before the House Merchant Marine
and Fisheries Committee, that the safety
standards here in question are international
standards. The Senate committee report
specifically contemplated the use of SOLAS
1960 standards, as modified by the IMCO
Maritime Safety Committee's proposals, as
guides in establishing disclosure regulations.
These are the same standards to which the
direct safety provisions of the legislation
are related.

Hence it is clear that the Congress ac-
cepted the concept of international standards
with resi>ect to disclosure of safety stand-
ards as well as with respect to the actual
ship safety rules that will apply.

Regulations implementing the financial
responsibility provisions of the new law are
to be issued by the Federal Maritime Com-
mission, the U.S. Government's regulatory
agency for ocean shipping. This legislation
is intended to insure that funds will be avail-
able to meet claims of persons injured or
the estates of those killed in passenger-ship
accidents and for refunds when a sailing is

JANUARY 30, 1967


The Federal Maritime Commission, like
the Coast Guard, has already held meetings
with interested parties, domestic and for-
eign, to hear and consider their ideas on
implementing regulations in order to insure
that specific requirements as ultimately
determined will not only be meaningful but
will be reasonable and not unduly burden-

As noted above, the new law makes no
change in legal provisions on shipowners'
liability. Stated simply, this liability now
may be limited under U.S. law to the value
of the vessel after the accident or $60 per
ton of the vessel's tonnage if the vessel's
value is not enough to meet claims. There
is widespread agreement that the present
limits are too low, if there should be limits
at all, and the President has stated that
the administration will make another effort
this year to repeal the present outmoded

IMCO Assembly Action

The Third Extraordinary Assembly of the
Intergovenmiental Maritime Consultative
Organization, which was held at London
November 28-30, 1966, approved without
significant change the recommendations of
the Maritime Safety Committee to amend
SOLAS 1960 and upgrade the international
fire-safety standards for passenger ships.

There were several minor changes, mostly
for clarification, but the U.S. delegation was
satisfied that none of them significantly
depart from the Committee's recommenda-
tions or reduce the level of safety standards.
Similarly, the delegation was satisfied that
there is no conflict or inconsistency in sub-
stance between the new regulations ap-
proved by the IMCO Assembly and the
safety standards established by U.S. law.

The substantive content of the new regu-
lations was approved by overwhelming
majorities. The closest vote on a directly
substantive issue was 35 to 2, clearly
reflecting the strong consensus for the
recommended improvements.

The most controversial question at the
Assembly was whether the proposed amend-
ments are, in the terms of article IX (e) of
the SOLAS 1960 Convention, of such an
important nature that any contracting
government which declares it does not accept
them shall cease to be a party to the con-
vention 12 months after they come into

The United States and nearly all the
Western maritime countries supported such
a finding. Opposition came from a few coun-
tries which apparently were concerned with
the prospective effects on their older ships.

Several delegations stated that they con-
sidered the amendments important but were
opposed to a finding in the sense of article
IX (e) because it might force some countries
out of the convention. Some of these dele-
gations argued that the exercise of the
"important nature" clause was contrary to
generally accepted concepts of international
law and prejudicial to sovereign rights. The
U.S. delegation, in response to these argu-
ments, pointed out that the Assembly was
following a procedure cleai'ly defined in the
convention and that the contracting govern-
ments accepted this procedure in accepting
the convention.

One representative urged the impor-
tance of crew training as opposed to struc-
tural requirements. The U.S. representative
agreed that crew training is important and
should be stressed, but expressed the belief
that it cannot be controlled through inter-
national rules as readily as structure can.
He noted that passenger ships operate on
cruises from U.S. ports, carrying nearly all
American passengers, in some cases never
returning to the country of registry. If
this type of trafl^c is to continue, it is not
acceptable to the United States to rely on
crew-training requirements of other coun-
tries without adequate fire-safety structural

The Assembly decided that the amend-
ments are of an "important nature" in the
sense of the convention by a vote of 26 to



8, with 5 abstentions. The vote on the final
resolution of the Assembly, which was 29
to 2, with 12 abstentions, reflected the objec-
tions of several countries to the "important
nature" finding.

A second issue which required serious
attention was the question of the legality of
the amendments. One delegation stated
doubts whether the Assembly was competent
to apply amendments relating to the struc-
ture of existing ships in view of the pro-
vision of article IX (f) of the SOLAS 1948
and 1960 Conventions, which state that
amendments relating to the structure of
ships shall apply only to ships the keels of
which are laid after the date on which the
amendment comes into force. It was argued
that if the Assembly wished to enforce such
amendments with respect to existing ships,
it would first have to amend article IX (f)
and that such amendments to the regulations
could only be approved by a subsequent
Assembly after the amendment to article
IX (f) came into force.

The U.S. delegation and several other
delegations disagreed with this conclusion
and took the position that amendments to
structural provisions could be applied to
existing ships with or without amendment
of article IX (f), provided that the necessary
two-thirds of the Assembly approved and
the amendments were accepted by two-thirds
of the contracting governments.

It was pointed out that the question had
been discussed by the Maritime Safety Com-
mittee and that no delegation had expressed
any doubt as to the legality of applying
structural amendments to existing ships,
article IX (f) notwithstanding. A passage
from the record of the SOLAS 1948 confer-
ence was cited, supporting the view that the
authors of that convention intended that
article IX (f) could be overridden by amend-
ments to the regulations. Ultimately it be-
came apparent that almost all delegations
considered it clear that structural amend-
ments can legally be applied to existing ships
without amendment of article IX (f).

Mr. Miller's article is one of a series being
written especially for the Bulletin by oflBcers
of the Department and the Foreign Service.
Officers who may be interested in submitting
original bylined articles are invited to call
Jewell Wilson in the Bulletin office, extension

The purpose of the amendments adopted
by the Assembly was to bring all passenger
ships up to an acceptable modern standard
of fire safety by eliminating the effects of
the grandfather clauses of the SOLAS 1948
and 1960 Conventions.

Effect of Amendments

Specifically, the proposals adopted by the
Assembly will eliminate vessels with wooden
hulls, decks, and deckhouses. All basic
structure will be of steel. Ships will be
divided by steel fire barriers not more than
131 feet apart to isolate any fire that may
start. In a like manner, the accommodation
spaces will be separated by steel bulkheads
and decks from such hazardous areas as
galleys, cargo space, and machinery space.

Within the accommodation spaces, the
various rooms, if not constructed of incom-
bustible materials, will be protected by an
automatic sprinkler system or other protec-
tive measures will be taken. In any event,
stairways and passageways will be specially
constructed to off"er a safe avenue of escape
in the event of a fire.

Vessels built before SOLAS 1948 came
into force in 1952 will have to meet the
1948 requirements for fire-extinguishing
systems. Fire pumps will have to be so
located and arranged that the whole system
will not be put out of action by a fire in

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 56, Jan- Mar 1967) → online text (page 35 of 90)