Executive Order 3176—Taking Possession and Title of German Vessels
The White House, November 24, 1919.
Whereas the following Joint Resolution adopted by Congress was approved by the President May 12, 1917:
Joint Resolution Authorizing the President to take over for the United States the possession and title of any vessel within its jurisdiction, which at the time of coming therein was owned in whole or in part by any corporation, citizen, or subject of any nation with which the United States may be at war, or was under register of any such nation, and for other purposes.
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress Assembled, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to take over to the United States the immediate possession and title of any vessel within the jurisdiction thereof, including the Canal Zone and all territories and insular possessions of the United States except the American Virgin Islands, which at the time of the coming into such jurisdiction was owned in whole or in part by any corporation, citizen, or subject of any nation with which the United States may be at war when such vessel shall be taken, or was flying the flag of or was under register of any such nation or any political .subdivision or municipality thereof; and, through the United States Shipping Board, or any department or agency of the Government, to operate, lease, charter, and equip such vessel in any service of the United States, or in any commerce, foreign or coastwise.
Sec. 2. That the Secretary of the Navy be, and he is hereby, authorized and directed to appoint, subject to the approval of the President, a board of survey, whose duty it shall be to ascertain the actual value of the vessel, its equipment, appurtenances and all property contained therein, at the time of its taking, and to make a written report of their findings to the Secretary of the Navy, who shall preserve such report with the records of his department. These findings shall be considered as competent evidence in all proceedings on any claim for compensation.
And whereas from time to time during the period of the war, vessels which were at the time of coming into the jurisdiction of the United States owned in whole or in part by a corporation, citizen or subject of the Empire of Germany, a nation with which the United States is now at war, or vessels which were flying the flag or under the register of the Empire of Germany or of a political subdivision or municipality thereof, or of any nation with which the United States is at war, have been taken over and operated by the United States or in the service of the United States.
Now therefore, the possession and title of the United States in all such vessels is taken over in accordance with Joint Resolution adopted by Congress and approved by the President May 12, 1917.
Woodrow Wilson, Executive Order 3176—Taking Possession and Title of German Vessels Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/350398