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COMMISSIONER OF NAVIGATION.
SIR: Under the requirement of section 4 of the act of July 5, 1889, that the Commissioner of Navigation shall report annually to the Secretary of the Treasury the increase of vessels in the United States, by building or otherwise, specifying their number, rig, and motive power, and shall investigate the operation of the laws relating to navigation, and report to the Secretary such particulars as may in his judgment admit of improvement or may require amendment, I have the honor to submit my report for the year ending June 30, 1889.
As showing the considerable labors falling upon the few clerks of the office I have to state that 65,415 official papers were received and disposed of during the year. Many of these contained questions under maritime law and analogous branches quite pefplexing in their nature, and all required work and the exercise of care in recording and briefing them, and in taking action thereon.
Under the regulations of July 18, 1885, this office is required to supervise the action of shipping commissioners, as devolved upon the Secretary of the Treasury by the tenth section of the shipping act, approved June 26, 1884, and with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury to regulate the mode of conducting business in their offices, and perform such other duties pertaining to the care of seamen as would devolve upon the Secretary by virtue of the provisions of said act and of Title LIII of the Revised Statutes. This work has been done, and any questions presented have been promptly met. The service seems to be in good condition, and as now conducted has undoubtedly proved a blessing to the mariner in protecting him, to some extent, from the land-sharks that formerly preyed upon him, and at the same time has been of great aid to the ship-owners and masters in obtaining for them men for their vessels.
From one cause or another it is growing yearly more difficult to obtain good seamen, especially of native origin, and the service done by the Government in supplying shipping offices, and finding seamen, and espe cially in deterring them from vice and debauchery, by wise regulations, enforced through the shipping commissioners, restricting the amount of pay that can be abstracted from the seaman before his voyage, seems