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Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. I have just been investigating some surveys in Alaska; some came into the office the other day, and they are not thorough, the surveys are not accurate, or rather complete, enough. I suppose they have not had the time.
In the Hawaiian Islands most of the triangulation and much of the topography have been completed. Very little hydrography has been carried out, except around the coast of the island of Oahu, where it has been practically completed.
In the Philippine Islands the survey of the inland seas and central part of the islands is practically completed. The triangulation, topography, and hydrography of the northeast coast of Luzon still remains to be done; also that of the west coast of Mindoro, Panay, southwest coast of Negros, east coast of Mindanao, south coast of Mindanao, and part of the western coast; also the island of Palawan and some of the islands of the Sulu Archipelago.
In that part of Alaska bordering on British Columbia the surveys are practically completed. This is also the case on the northwest coast of the Gulf of Alaska and on the coast of Norton Sound. Very little work has been done on the northwest coast of Alaska except Norton Sound, and about two-thirds of Alaska Peninsula remains to be surveyed; also the Aleutian Islands. Reconnoissances have been made in some of these places and some individual harbors along the coasts have been surveyed, but the greater part of the work remains to be done.
Mr. WITHERSPOON. After you make one of these surveys, how many years is it before you have to make another one?
Capt. COOPER. It depends almost entirely on the locality. In certain channels around certain islands where the sands are shifting and the depth changing, a survey may have to be made in a few years, but ordinarily, if a survey is accurately made, it would be many years before another would have to be made.
Mr. Hobson. You can, then, learn the natural change to expect without making a full survey?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. Of course, we frequently get information of slight changes which are incorporated in the chart, but if the survey is accurately made certainly 50 or 75 years might elapse in most localities before another would be made. The Coast Survey is now engaged in resurveying some parts of our own coast, and in that connection a remarkable thing occurred recently. The Nebraska struck a shoal off the coast of Connecticut I think it was in that vicinity; I have forgotten whether it was Connecticut or Rhode Island—where the chart showed 5 fathoms of water. She ran into anchor one night and struck a rock with 22 feet on it. As soon as I got the telegram I notified the Coast Survey and they sent a vessel to resurvey. That had been surveyed in the early part of the last century, apparently accurately, but that spot was missed.
Mr. Hobson. That happens not infrequently in the Philippines?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; nowadays in making surveys all Governments, I imagine, certainly we do the Hydrographic Office and the Coast Survey-in surveying limited areas and channels leading into ports, drag; simply put a drag down at a certain depth, and it will catch anything that is there. That is done, of course, in channels and restricted areas.
Mr. Hobson. Can a single ship drag!
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; it would be very difficult; and usually, of course, is not necessary.
The CHAIRMAN. There is too much extent of territory?
Mr. WITHERSPOON. Has any foreign Government ever made surveys of these same waters?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; nearly all of these surveys are British, made in the latter part of the last century, at least the early part of the last century and the latter part of the eigheenth century, by the British. Of course, in those days the methods were not nearly as accurate as they are now, but the entire coast of Central America was surveyed by the British from 40 to 100 years ago, and some parts of it 75 years ago.
Mr. WITHERSPOON. Does Great Britain depend on those surveys made a century ago?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; she depends on them. Of course, she is very glad that we are making the new surveys. Of course, great care has to be exercised in the use of the old charts, because of the known changes there. I was talking with Capt. Davis, who had command of the l'acoma on the coast of Nicaragua and Honduras when I had command of the Marietta, and we had to exercise great care, because the depths shown on the charts were not found by the lead' in several places. Where the chart said we could go, in many places, we found we could not, we had to be guided by the lead.
Mr. Hobson. The currents change as well as the depth?
The CHAIRMAN. Would not the filling up naturally change the current?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; filling up or deepening. Nearly all of this coast was surveyed by the British. On the Cuban coast the British surveyed some and the Spanish; and on the coast of Haiti all three Governments, the British, Spanish, and French.
The CHAIRMAN. Are you doing any work on the east coast, south of Colon?
Capt. COOPER. No, sir.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you contemplate doing any work farther down?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; farther down, at least to the boundary line of Colombia. We have recently had a request from an officer in command of one of our ships for a chart showing the coast line accurately from Porto Bello, which is 45 miles from Colon, a very splendid port for protection from what they call the northers, heavy gales, and the chart of that region is not in sufficient detail to show the coast line properly. We had a request from Capt. Harry Knapp, in command of one of the ships, to make a chart of that, but we had to refuse, because we did not have the data.
The CHAIRMAN. What is the condition or status of the surveys on the east coast of South America below Colon?
Capt. COOPER. Nothing is being done.
Capt. Cooper. I can not tell, without looking up the records, just by whom the surveys have been made. My impression is that the British made most of them.
The CHAIRMAN. Are not our naval ships frequently called, in the discharge of various international duties, to visit ports along that coast?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; not, of course, as frequently as they are on the coast of Cuba and Central America, but they are called there.
Mr. Hobson. Are the charts pretty thorough in the region of the Windward Islands? Our vessels frequently pass there?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. Of course, nearly all the passages there are very deep. I do not remember any passage there between the islands that is shallow. There are some places immediately surrounding the islands which are shallow. Those charts are nearly all made by the British. I do not know accurately without looking at the records, but the probabilities are that they are from 45 to 100 years old.
Mr. HOBSON. How are the charts around Bahia?
The CHAIRMAN. The work down to that point will consume your energies for sometime to come!
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. With only one ship working, my estimate is at least 10 years. If I can get twoʻships we will reduce it probably by half. Mr. Hobson. Have you recommended two? Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. Mr. HOBSON. The increase is intended for an additional ship?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. I hope to get the Leonidas and to have her fitted out. She is now out of commission. We find in this work that the Hannibal, which was converted from a collier and made into a survey ship, with a few more changes will be the best we can get.
Mr. Hobson. We have some 18 or 20 colliers which are practically obsolete for collier purposes, left over from the Spanish War.
Capt. COOPER. The Lebanon is being used. I think most of those are still in commission. The Lebanon is a range ship for target practice, the Hannibal we secured for surveying, and the Leonidas I am trying to get. There are probably one or two others.
Mr. HOBSON. They only carry some three or four thousand tons of cargo coal!
Capt. COOPER. That is all. I think the Hannibal is 5,000 and the Leonidas 4,000.
The CHAIRMAN. Could the Olympia be used in that work?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. That is the great advantage of the col. liers; they are economical in coal consumption.
The CHAIRMAN. Is the Olympia too large a ship for your pur. poses?
Capt. COOPER. No, sir; not along the coast of Central America, along most of the places. There would be some places where she could not go in. We should, perhaps, have a tender in addition if the Olympia were used. Of course she could run the offshore soundings, but to go close inshore we should have a smaller vessel.
The CHAIRMAN. Of less draft?
Mr. TALBOTT. The opening of the Panama Canal makes this work important?
Capt. COOPER. Most important, both from a military and commercial point of view.
Mr. TALBOTT. More important from a commercial standpoint, I imagine.
Mr. HOBSON. I should like to ask whether the waters along the coast of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi are well surveyed and chartered now, down the coast of Texas ?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; they have very good charts of all those places. Some of them undoubtedly need resurveying. They are beginning to resurvey the coast in different places.
Mr. HOBSON. Is the east coast of Mexico pretty well surveyed? Capt. COOPER. No, sir; it is badly surveyed. After we get through with this important part I think we will ask to take up the question of surveying the Mexican coast.
The CHAIRMAN. When you go to survey the coast of Mexico you will have to get the consent of that country?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. We have already the consent of all the countries on this coast.
The CHAIRMAN. Have you the consent of Mexico?
Mr. GREGG. Do we do this work at our own expense or do the other countries contribute ?
Capt. COOPER. No, sir; we do it at our own expense. We can not get them so far even to establish the aids to navigation. In these countries almost all the aids to navigation are maintained by private corporations. The United Fruit Co. has several aids.
Mr. GREGG. On what coast?
Capt. COOPER. The east coast of Central America. Nearly all the aids to navigation are maintained by private corporations.
Mr. WITHERSPOON. Are the foreign governments making surveys around the coast of Europe, Asia, and Africa ?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir. The British Government has three ships in the field all the time-never less--and they are surveying the coast of Africa now and have been; not only that, but also China. We are indebted to them for what charts we have of foreign countries, particularly China. They are now resurveying the coast of China.
Mr. GREGG. Any other foreign Government ?
Capt. COOPER. They are doing something; yes, sir; but not as much as the British.
Mr. TALBOTT. Is the navy of any foreign Government getting the charts of our coast?
Capt. COOPER. They have them all.
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; there is an interchange of the charts. Every time any Government publishes a new chart they send it to us complimentary, and we do the same with them.
There is a great advantage in doing this survey work by our own officers. There is no better school, because they are thoroughly familiar with the coast when they get through with it. I am trying every day to get the Nayy Department to increase the number of officers on those ships. There is no better school in navigation and piloting,
Mr. Hobson. Have you any plans for the reorganization of the Hydrographic Office in its relation to the Navy Department? Suppose there should be some general plan of reorganization of the Navy Department—the navy yards, personnel, and other things have you thought out any plan with regard to the logical position of the Hydrographic Office in the Navy Department, or any changes that would be advisable?
Capt. COOPER. I have been directed to give it much thought.
The CHAIRMAN. What about the question of the consolidation of the Naval Observatory and the Hydrographic Office ?
Capt. COOPER. Well, sir, I think if it is possible to get a proper building for the Hydrographic Office that some advantages might arise from the consolidation.
The CHAIRMAN. What duplication of work is there in those two offices
Capt. COOPER. None whatever, sir. The work is not duplicated at all. The Observatory now furnishes the instruments which we use on the surveying and other ships; that is all, but there is no duplication of work.
The CHAIRMAN. What convenience in work or coordination of work would result from consolidation ?
Capt. COOPER. Well, the coordination of the same head of office or department having charge of furnishing the instruments and charts and sailing directions and handling the surveying ships, in other words, having everything to do with the information pertaining to navigation.
Mr. HOBSON. And the overhead expense of administration would probably be reduced ?
Capt. COOPER. Yes, sir; to some extent.
Mr. Hobson. Have you looked into the question of plant or available equipment for such a combine?
Capt. COOPER. Very thoroughly.
Capt. COOPER. Without more space at the Observatory grounds than exists there now, it is practically impossible to accommodate the Hydrographic Office.
Mr. HOBSON. You would have to erect another building?
Capt. COOPER. The estimate was $300,000. This would give a building to completely house the Hydrographic Office. There was another estimate of about $20,000 for adding two stories to the power house. But this would not house the office to very great advantage.