Anderson v. Pacific Coast Steamship Co.
225 U.S. 187 (1912)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Anderson v. Pacific Coast Steamship Co., 225 U.S. 187 (1912)

Anderson v. Pacific Coast Steamship Company

No. 641, 642

Argued February 21, 1912

Decided May 27, 1912

225 U.S. 187

Syllabus

When the federal Constitution was adopted, each state had its own pilotage regulations.

State pilotage laws are regulations of commerce, but they fall within that class of powers which may be exercised by the states until Congress shall see fit to act.

The provisions of former federal statutes relating to pilotage were incorporated in §§ 4401 and 4444, Rev.Stat., which are still in force. In adopting the Revised Statutes, change of arrangement from earlier

Page 225 U. S. 188

statutes will not be regarded as altering their scope and purpose; an intent of Congress to change the effect of prior law will not be presumed unless clearly expressed.

Distinctions between registered and enrolled vessels and history of statutes relating to state pilotage of registered and coastwise vessels reviewed, and held that:

Coastwise seagoing vessels sailing under register and having officers with federal pilot's licenses are not free from liability for pilotage fees under state laws by virtue of § 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, 16 Stat. 440, c. 100, as reenacted in § 4401 and 4444, Rev.Stat.

There are no provisions in Title 52 of the Revised Statutes which may be construed as exempting coastwise seagoing vessels sailing under register, whose officers have federal pilot's licenses, from liability for pilotage fees under state laws, under the rule of construction laid down in the last sentence of § 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871.

Congress did not intend to classify with the coastwise vessels referred to in the last proviso of § 51 of the Act of February 28, 1781, as reenacted in § 4444, Rev.Stat., registered steam vessels engaged in commerce with both foreign and domestic ports on the same voyage.

The wisdom of establishing federal rules as to port pilotage for such registered vessels now exempted is a question for Congress to determine.

In this case, held that American registered steam vessels sailing from San Francisco clearing for final destination to American ports and return, but stopping at foreign ports en route for less than ten percent of the traffic, are subject on entering and leaving the port of San Francisco to the state pilotage laws of California as contained in §§ 2468, 2466 and 2432 of the Political Code of that state.

The certificate in these cases is as follows:

"The libels in the above cases involve the question of power of a state to make pilotage regulations for certain classes of registered seagoing steam vessels when entering and leaving harbors within the confines of the state."

"The steamers Queen and Umatilla were regularly sailing under register, and were either on a voyage from the port of San Francisco in the State of California to a United States port on Puget Sound or from a United

Page 225 U. S. 189

States port on Puget Sound to said port of San Francisco, but, in either such case, said vessels did, while en route between said ports of the United States, stop at the port of Victoria, B.C., to and from which port of Victoria she did then carry and did then and there deliver and receive both passengers, mail, and freight. Both vessels sailed direct to Victoria from San Francisco and direct to San Francisco from Victoria. At least ninety (90) percent of passengers and cargo was carried between the United States ports, and the parties stipulated that the voyage for which the vessels cleared was between Puget Sound ports of the United States and San Francisco, with the right to stop and trade en route at Victoria. The stop at Victoria on each occasion was for about an hour. The officers of each vessel had federal pilot's licenses, and each vessel was in fact piloted in entering and leaving the port of San Francisco by such an officer. Each of the vessels was tendered pilotage services -- the Umatilla on leaving port and the Queen on entering -- by a resident bar pilot of the port of San Francisco, duly commissioned and acting under the law of the State of California. In each case, the tender was declined. The ships refused to pay the pilotage fees imposed by the following sections of the Political Code of the State of California:"

" 2468. Pilotage and half pilotage. All vessels sailing under an enrollment and licensed and engaged in the coasting trade between the port of San Francisco and any other port of the United States shall be exempt from all pilotage unless a pilot be actually employed. All foreign vessels and all vessels from a foreign port or bound thereto, and all vessels sailing under a register between the port of San Francisco and any other port of the United States shall be liable for pilotage as provided in section twenty-four hundred and sixty-six (2466) of this code."

" 2466. Rates of pilotage at San Francisco. The following shall be the rates of pilotage into and out of the

Page 225 U. S. 190

harbor of San Francisco: all vessels under five hundred (500) tons, three ($3.00) dollars per foot draught; all vessels over five hundred (500) tons, three ($3.00) dollars per foot draught and three (3c.) cents per ton for each and every ton registered measurement; and every vessel spoken inward or outward bound except as hereinafter provided shall pay the said rates. A vessel is spoken by day by a pilot boat displaying a union jack or by night displaying a torch or flare up within a distance of three (3) miles of the vessel. In all cases where inward-bound vessels are not spoken until inside of the bar, the rates of pilotage herein provided shall be reduced fifty (50) percent. Vessels engaged in the whaling or fishing trade shall be exempt from all pilotage except where a pilot is actually employed."

" 2432. Vessel, owner, etc., liable for pilotage. All vessels, their tackle, apparel, and furniture, and the master and owners thereof, are jointly and severally liable for pilotage fees, to be recovered in any court of competent jurisdiction."

"On February 28, 1871, Congress enacted an act 'for the better protection of persons on vessels propelled in whole or in part by steam, etc.,' section 51 of which is pertinent to these cases. This section was in 1873 reenacted in sections 4401 and 4444 of the revised statutes. The portions of the section and its subsequent codification on which the court's question are based as follows:"

" An act to Provide for the Better Security of Life on Board of Vessels Propelled in Whole or in Part by Steam."

" SECTION 51. And be it further enacted that . . .

Page 225 U. S. 191

every coastwise seagoing steam vessel subject to the navigation laws of the United States, and to the rules and regulations aforesaid, not sailing under register, shall, when under way, except on the high seas, be under the control and direction of pilots licensed by the inspectors of steamboats. . . . Nor shall any pilot charges be levied by any such [state] authority upon any steamer piloted as herein provided . . . Provided, however, that nothing in this act shall be construed to annul or affect any regulation established by the laws of any state requiring vessels entering or leaving a port in any such state, other than coastwise steam vessels, to take a pilot duly licenses, or authorized by the laws of such state, or of a state situate upon the waters of such state."

" Revised Statutes Title LII. 'Regulation of Steam Vessels.'"

" R.S. 4401. . . . and every coastwise seagoing steam vessel subject to the navigation laws of the United States, and to the rules and regulations aforesaid, not sailing under register, shall, when under way, except on the high seas, be under the control and direction of pilots licensed by the inspectors of steamboats."

" R.S. 4444. . . . nor shall any pilot charges be levied by any such [state] authority upon any steamer piloted as provided by this title. . . . Nothing in this title shall be construed to annul or affect any regulation established by the laws of any state requiring vessels entering or state, other than coastwise steam vessels, to take a pilot duly licensed or authorized by the laws of such state, or of a state situate upon the waters of such state."

"The pilots, appellants here, libelled the vessels in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. The two cases were consolidated for trial in

Page 225 U. S. 192

the district court. It was contended that there was a conflict between the federal and the state law as to the control of the vessels for the purposes of bar pilotage. The libelants relied upon the state law giving the resident state bar pilotage control of the vessels in question when entering or leaving port. The district court held that the federal law excluded these vessels from state control, and the libels were dismissed."

"On appeal to this Court, it has become apparent that the decision of the two cases involves a question of conflict of jurisdiction between the state and the federal government as to the pilotage of all steam vessels touching at both foreign and domestic ports on the one voyage, and also as to the pilotage of the large number of registered steam vessels now engaged in traffic between ports of the Atlantic and the Pacific coasts of the United States, both by way of the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and the Isthmus of Panama and around South America. The decision will also affect the very large number of steam vessels which may reasonably be expected to sail between American ports on the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans via the Panama Canal."

"In determining the intent of Congress in passing the Act of February 28, 1871, the court had under consideration the following statutes: the Act of August 7, 1789, codified in § 4235 of the Revised Statutes, recognizing and adopting the pilotage regulations of the various states so far as bar and entrance pilotage is concerned; section nine, paragraphs nine and ten of the steamship act of August 30, 1852, creating a certain class of federal pilots (10 Stat. 67, reenacted in chapter 100, sections 18 and 14 of the Act of February 28, 1871 [codified in Revised Statutes, §§ 4442 and 4438]; Act of May 27, 1848, [codified in Revised Statutes, § 3126]), permitting registered vessels sailing between ports of the United States to trade with foreign ports; section twenty of the Act of February

Page 225 U. S. 193

18, 1793 (1 Stat. 313, codified in Revised Statutes, § 4361), providing for the regulation and duties of officers on registered vessels as to the carriage of foreign goods and distilled liquors and the making of manifests."

"The members of the court are unable to agree as to the interpretation of the cited portions of § 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, codified in Revised Statutes, sections 4401 and 4444, and for this reason, and because of the importance of the interests affected, both governmental and commercial, the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit certify the following questions to the United States Supreme Court, and request its instructions upon them:"

"1. Are coastwise seagoing steam vessels, sailing under register, and having officers with federal pilot's licenses, free from any liability for pilotage fees created by sections 2468, 2466, and 2432 of the Political Code of the State of California, upon the proper tender of services of resident bar pilots of the state pilotage establishment, when entering or leaving the port of San Francisco, by virtue of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, entitled, 'an Act to Provide for the Better Security of Life on Board of Vessels Propelled in Whole or in Part by Steam,' as reenacted of date December 1, 1873, in sections 4401 and 4444 of the Revised Statutes?"

"2. Are there any provisions of title 52 of the Revised Statutes which may be construed as exempting coastwise seagoing steam vessels sailing under register whose officers have federal pilot's licenses from any liability for pilotage fees created by sections 2468, 2466, and 2432 of the Political Code of the State of California, upon the proper tender of services of resident bar pilots of the state pilotage establishment, when entering or leaving the port of San Francisco, State of California, under the rule of construction laid down in the last sentence of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, entitled, 'An Act to Provide

Page 225 U. S. 194

for the Better Security of Life on Board of Vessels Propelled in Whole or in Part by Steam,' and as reenacted in section 4444 of the Revised Statutes?"

"3. Did Congress intend to classify with the 'coastwise vessels' referred to in the last proviso of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, entitled, 'An Act to Provide for the Better Security of Life on Board of Vessels Propelled in Whole or in Part by Steam,' and reenacted in section 4444 of the Revised Statutes, registered steam vessels engaged in commerce with both foreign and domestic ports on the same voyage?"

"4. Did Congress, in enacting the last proviso of section 51 of the Act of February 28, 1871, reenacted in section 4444 of the Revised Statutes, intend to exempt registered steam vessels whose officers have federal pilot's licenses from any liability for pilotage fees created by sections 2468, 2466, and 2432 of the Political Code of the State of California upon proper tender of services of resident bar pilots of the state pilotage establishment on entering or leaving the port of San Francisco on regular voyages on which they steamed to Victoria, British Columbia, and carried cargo, mail, and passengers direct thereto and direct therefrom when, after leaving Victoria, British Columbia, on the outward voyage, they steamed to Puget Sound ports of the State of Washington for which they had originally cleared, and returned therefrom to Victoria, British Columbia when the stop at Victoria, British Columbia, is for about an hour on each occasion, when at least ninety (90) percent of the passenger and cargo traffic for the outward and inward voyages is between the port of San Francisco and the ports of Washington, and when the traffic with the foreign port may be deemed en route between the domestic ports? "

Page 225 U. S. 195

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