United States v. Barnette,
165 U.S. 174 (1897)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Barnette, 165 U.S. 174 (1897)

United States v. Barnette

No. 325

Submitted December 21, 1896

Decided January 25, 1897

165 U.S. 174


A lieutenant in the Navy, assigned by order of the Secretary of the Navy to duty as executive officer of a vessel of the United States, furnished by the Secretary of the Navy to the New York as a school ship, is entitled to sea pay as well while the vessel is attached to a wharf in the harbor of New York as while she is on a cruise, and although this service is called, in the Secretary's order for his detail, "employment on shore duty," and notwithstanding he is receiving pay from the state as instructor in its nautical school upon the vessel.

This was a claim by a lieutenant in the Navy of the United States for sea pay while on board the St. Mary's in the harbor of New York. The facts found by the Court of Claims were, in substance, as follows:

The St. Mary's was a sailing vessel owned and employed by the United States, and had been furnished for educational purposes by the Secretary of the Navy, upon the application of the Governor of the State of New York, under the Act of Congress of June 20, 1874, c. 339, which is copied in the

Page 165 U. S. 175

margin. [Footnote 1] The command of the vessel was always retained in an officer of the United States Navy. The nautical school upon this vessel was established by the Board of Education of the City of New York, under the statute of the State of New York of July 1, 1882, c. 410, the material provisions of which are likewise copied in the margin. [Footnote 2] The object of the nautical

Page 165 U. S. 176

school is to instruct young men in maritime matters, so as to fit them for any service connected with maritime life, leaving them free to go into the Navy or into the merchant marine. The instruction is in seamanship, navigation, sailmaking, and everything pertaining to a seaman's life.

The claimant, on January 1, 1891, reported to the commander of the St. Mary's for duty as executive officer on board of her, and there served as such until October 24, 1893 (the date of filing this petition), in obedience to an order signed by the Secretary of the Navy, dated December 30, 1890, and in the usual form of orders assigning officers to duty on school ships, as follows:

"Navy Department, Washington, December 30, 1890"

"Sir: You are detached from the Minnesota on the 31st instant, and will report to Commander A. S. Crowninshield on the same day for duty as executive on board the nautical school ship St. Mary's as the relief of Lieut. C. C. Cornwell. This employment on shore duty is required by the public interests, and such service will continue until the 31st of December, 1893, unless it is otherwise ordered."

Throughout the claimant's service on the St. Mary's, he received no orders, except from her commander, an officer of the Navy, and through him his junior officers received the orders of the commander. Her complement of officers was the commander, the executive officer, a lieutenant, an ensign, and a surgeon. Her crew consisted of twenty-two

Page 165 U. S. 177

men of different grades and ranks, all employed by the City of New York. Her commander was required by the regulations of the Navy to report semiannually to the Secretary of the Navy upon the conduct and professional ability of his subordinate officers, and upon the efficiency of the men.

The St. Mary's each year went upon a cruise, lasting from about the middle of May to sometime in October, and during the rest of the year was attached to a dock in the harbor of New York. While she was not cruising, the claimant lived on board, and was on duty on board every day, wearing his uniform and doing the same duty, and subject to the same regulations, as while the ship was on the high seas, and in the matter of quarters, mess, and uniform there was no difference whether the vessel was under sail, or lying at anchor, or tied to a wharf. The claimant's duties as executive officer were the care and preservation of the ship, looking after the crew, and attending to the details of the organization and police of the ship.

The claimant also acted as instructor of the pupils of the nautical school on board the St. Mary's, and was paid for his services in that capacity by the Board of Education of the City of New York.

In the routine of the Navy Department, officers are usually assigned alternately to sea and shore duty for periods of about three years each. For two and a half years prior to December 31, 1890, the claimant had been attached to the United States steamship Galena on a cruise, performing sea duty and receiving sea pay.

The claimant had been in the Navy since 1872, and during his service on the St. Mary's was entitled to $2,600 a year while on sea duty, and $2,200 while on shore duty. The accounting officers of the United States allowed him sea pay while the St. Mary's was on a cruise, but only shore pay while she was lying at a wharf in the harbor of New York.

The Court of Claims held that he was entitled to sea pay during the whole time of his service on the St. Mary's, and gave judgment accordingly in his favor for $780.25. 30 Ct.Cl. 197. The United States appealed to this Court.

Page 165 U. S. 178

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