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Friday, January 10, 1913. The committee this day met, Hon. Lemuel P. Padgett (chairman) presiding.
STATEMENT OF CAPT. GEORGE F. COOPER, HYDROGRAPHER,
UNITED STATES NAVY.
The CHAIRMAN. Gentlemen of the committee, we have with us this morning Capt. Cooper, of the Hydrographic Office. Captain, the item in which you are interested is on page 48 of the bill,“ Ocean and lake surveys: Hydrographic surveys, including the pay of the necessary hydrographic surveyors, cartographic draftsmen and recorders, and the purchase of nautical books, charts, and sailing directions, $90,000." I see that you are asking for an increase of $15,000 over last year, Captain.
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir.
Capt. COOPER. It is for the purpose of reducing as much as possible the time of the completion of the survey of the Central American coast which was begun two years ago. It is estimated now that it will require from 10 to 12 years to finish it under the present conditions, and in view of the nearness of the opening of the Panama Canal, we would like to reduce the time as much as possible.
The CHAIRMAN. If you secure an appropriation of $90,000, how much will that reduce it, and in what time will you be able to complete the work?
Capt. COOPER. I think that should reduce it by almost half. If I can succeed in getting the vessel which I am trying to get, and which the division of material of the Navy Department has asked for, the Leonidas, it will enable us to put two ships on that work instead of one, and it ought to reduce the time by almost half.
Mr. WITHERSPOON. An increase of $15,000 will enable you to double the amount of work?
Capt. COOPER. Of course, that appropriation would have to go on until the work was finished in order to permit us to employ two vessels there instead of one.
Mr. WITHERSPOON. And now $75,000 is necessary for one vessel ?
Capt. COOPER. No, sir; there are other vessels engaged elsewhere. There are vessels engaged on the south coast of Cuba and on the coast of Haiti.
The CHAIRMAN. This appropriation also provides for the purchase of nautical books, charts, and sailing directions?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. How much of the appropriation is used for the purchase of nautical books, charts, and sailing directions?
Capt. COOPER. It varies from year to year, depending upon the demands of the fleet.
The CHAIRMAN. But approximately?
Capt. COOPER. We rarely go below $10,000, and frequently as much as $15,000 or $16,000. It was $7,000 last year, and has been as high as $20,000.
The CHAIRMAN. Does that include the nautical books as well as the charts and sailing directions?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. Those that must be purchased from foreign sources.
The CHAIRMAN. I notice in the report of the Chief of the Bureau of Navigation he states that the work of the Hydrographic Office still suffers from having only two officers on duty there?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Please make a full statement with reference to the situation.
Capt. COOPER. The situation principally is this, that we only have one other officer there besides the hydrographer, and he has charge of the work of supplying the charts and books to ships and for sale; what we call the division of chart supplies and sailing directions. He also has charge of the compilation of the sailing directions and nautical books. It is more work than one officer can attend to properly, and it is more than one officer can give proper supervision to. In addition to that, the work of compiling the sailing directions is suffering because we have not sufficient expert supervision to do it. It is being done now very slowly by nautical experts, but they are men who have had but limited experience at sea. Of course, they are high-class men for the amount of money that is paid. What we desire is to have officers there for the purpose of compiling those directions and supervising their compilation, in order that it may be done in the most efficient and quickest manner.
The CHAIRMAN. What does your other officer do?
Capt. COOPER. He is the hydrographer and has general supervision of the duties of the entire office. Frequently, of course, the hydrographer has to do some of the things mentioned himself in order to keep the current work up to date. It should be thoroughly understood that the law now limits us to only two officers, one of whom is the hydrographer.
The CHAIRMAN. How many officers do you need in addition to the two you have?
Capt. COOPER. One of these two is the hydrographer. Well, of course, I could use four or five, sir. I believe two additional are absolutely necessary to do the work as efficiently as it should be done and as carefully and rapidly as it should be done.
The CHAIRMAN. Is your work piling up in the office because of the lack of those men?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. There is one instance which I can give you, and that is our publication which is No. 86, the Sailing Directions of the Caribbean Sea. This book has been out of print now for six months. It is a most important volume, and we have not been able to carry on the current work of the office and rewrite that book, which is necessary and which is being done very slowly and without the proper expert supervision.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean to say, Captain, without proper supervision that when it is rewritten it may not be as accurate and reliable as it should be?
Capt. COOPER. I am afraid of that, sir, though I shall try to give it some supervision myself. The difficulty is that it will take so much longer. Mr. Ridgely, my assistant, also is supervising it to the extent of his ability, but because he and I are both engaged with the routine work of the office and the duties of the office, we can not give it the supervision we would like, and the work suffers for that reason. That work is being done by a nautical expert, and, of course, we give him all the supervision we can, and in the end will, of course, go over the whole work, but we have calls at present almost every day for copies of the book, and we can not hope to get it out now under at least six months. If I should get more officers for that purpose the work could be done very much more quickly and we should be very much surer of its accuracy in the end. This, of course, applies to all similar work.
The CHAIRMAN. That work can be gotten out in six months; what other work in addition to that have you for these other officers?
Capt. COOPER. One officer should be engaged in the inspection and care of the branch offices. We have 16 branch offices. I have been unable to go myself to inspect those offices so far. I hope to go at some time for a limited inspection, at least, but I would like to keep one officer engaged most of his time in taking care of the branch offices, inspecting them, and seeing that they are kept up to the mark at all times. I also would employ one officer in the handling and the detail administration of the surveys. That I have to attend to myself largely now, with the assistance of the Chief of the Division of Chart Construction, who is the hydrographic engineer.
The CHAIRMAN. Where are those offices located—the branch offices!
Capt. Cooper. There is one at Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Baltimore, Savannah, New Orleans, Galveston, San Francisco, Portland, Oreg., Port Townsend, Wash., Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, Duluth, and
Sault Ste. Marie, which is kept open only in the summer months and is closed in the winter.
Mr. TALBOTT. Is there one at Charleston ?
Capt. COOPER. No, sir; there is none there. We had in the legislative bill a request to move the office from Port Townsend to Seattle, because Port Townsend is a very small port and the shipping interests on that coast wished to have it moved to Seattle, but it is at Port Townsend at present.
Mr. TALBOTT. Is there an office at the other end of the canal! Capt. COOPER. Last year we requested an appropriation to open an office at Panama, and the Committee on Appropriations gave us the authority to open an office at Panama, but refused to appropriate the money. So the Panama office appears in the law, but we are utterly unable to open the office there because the appropriation is entirely exhausted by the present number of offices.
Mr. TALBOTT. Is there an office at Newport!
The CHAIRMAN. Now, what other duties—you have spoken about the inspection and the supervision of those offices?
Capt. COOPER. The compilation of the sailing directions and other nautical books and papers. That should be under the charge of one officer. One officer should devote himself to that and nothing else.
He should not have any other duty connected with the office. Those two officers in addition I believe to be absolutely necessary for the proper administration of the office. A third I would like very much to have in order to give me the proper assistance in the supervision of the surveys. We have three ships at work, and one topographic party, which constantly has to be looked after. A great many ques. tions come up for discussion, the appropriation has to be looked after, the supplies and the proper direction of the surveys, and while, of course, the hydrographer in the end is responsible, there should be one officer detailed for that especial duty, and he should look after that and nothing else. The CHAIRMAN. Speaking of the charts, what is the present status
work in charts, etc.? Čapt. Cooper. In the manufacture?
The CHAIRMAN. Yes, sir; in the production of our own charts instead of purchasing them from the English admiralty.
Capt. COOPER. We have installed a new press and secured nearly all the employees. There are still two vacancies which the Civil Service Commission has not been able to supply us. We have purchased - most of the material necessary for the beginning of the work. The contractors have unfortunately delayed us very much. They have delayed us on photographic material and on lithographic material, and in almost every other direction we have been subjected to very great delays, they have not been able to fulfill their contracts; but within 30 days, I think, we should have all the material and all the employees so the work can proceed rapidly, and we hope to produce, as soon as we start work, at least two foreign charts a day. That, I am confident, will be done. I hope to produce more than that.
The CHAIRMAN. A year or two ago Capt. Knapp, your predecessor, stated to us that heretofore the charts had been produced from copper at very great cost, and that you had a new process by which they would be produced at a far less cost than under the copper process?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Please state to the committee the present status of that.
Capt. COOPER. That is what I mentioned. The new machinery and supplies for which an appropriation was made last year are for the purpose of reproduction of charts by that process. It is called zincography. The original charts are photographed and of course they have to be prepared for photographing. Some preparation has to be made because our charts are somewhat different from the foreign charts, and certain changes have to be made by the draftmen and then the charts are photographed for reproduction.
The CHAIRMAN. In order to bring it up to date, what was the cost of production by the copper process, do you remember? If not, please put it in the hearing.
Capt. COOPER. I can put it in the bearing; yes, sir.
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. That will, of course, have to be estimated largely, because we have not done much ourselves. We have had several done by contract. That will have to be estimated. Of course, I can give you the copper exactly. I did not know that would be wanted and did not bring it, but I can give it to you exactly.
The cost of the copper process is 35 cents per square inch of area of chart, and of the zinc process 13 cents per square inch.
The CHAIRMAN. With the recent developments, do you feel that this new process will give you a satisfactory chart?
Capt. COOPER. Well, yes, sir; I do, satisfactory for navigation. It will not be the chart that the engraved chart is. This [exhibiting] is an engraved chart which I have here. The art of photographic reproduction will not produce the very fine work that the engravers can do; but it will be a chart that is satisfactory for navigation, and I believe will answer all the purposes of navigation.
The CHAIRMAN. The difference will not be found in the substantial use, but will be in the artistic finish?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; in the artistic finish, the neat appearance of the chart. Of course, we have not done any work ourselves, except to a very limited extent, because we have not the facilities; but the contractors have done some work for us, and their work has not been up to the standard which we require in the Hydrographic Office. We have passed the work because we wanted to encourage them and get them started. The charts are useful and can be used for navigation, but it is not the standard that I shall require in the Hydrographic Office.
The CHAIRMAN. Have the contractors been improving? Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; they have been steadily improving; and when they do not reach the standard which we require that they must reach, the standard that we shall require in the end when they have had more experience, we shall send the chart back and make them improve it. I have already had to send zinc plates back as many as four times. Of course, that is a large expense to the contractor, and probably sometimes he has to make a new plate or to expend a considerable amount in labor in correcting a plate, but there is a standard that we do not propose they shall fall below; and unless they reach that standard, we will send them back and make them improve them to come up to what we require for navigational purposes.
The CHAIRMAN. Is the chart produced by this process reliable ?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; it is just as reliable as the engraved chart. It does not present quite as artistic and neat an appearance as the engraved chart, but for the purposes of navigation it is, I will say, practically as good.
The CHAIRMAN. What proportion of the charts do we make for ourselves on our own work and what proportion do we purchase from the British Admiralty?
Capt. COOPER. My recollection is that it is very nearly equal. You will find it in my annual report. · The Hydrographic Office uses its own charts to the number, I think, of 1,824, and we have to purchase about 2,002 British Admiralty charts.
Mr. BUCHANAN. Do you contract all the work for those charts?
Capt. COOPER. We purchase most of them—that is, the copies of the charts from Potter & Co., of London, who are the Admiralty agents. In fact, all the Admiralty charts are purchased from them.
The CHAIRMAN. I think Mr. Buchanan has reference to the new process.
Capt. COOPER. We have had made during the last fiscal year 47 by contract.