Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Relating to Vessel Safety and the Financial Responsibility of Owners.
AMERICAN passenger ships built today are the safest the world has ever known. They are constructed and maintained to the highest standards of safety which American science and ingenuity can devise.
However, as the tragic burning and sinking of the Yarmouth Castle made grimly clear, this is not enough. The Yarmouth Castle was a foreign flag vessel built in 1927. Seventy-nine Americans were among the 90 human beings who lost their lives because this ship was exempt from compliance with modern construction standards.
In my transportation message to the Congress this year, I recommended that action be taken to correct this situation. In this bill, the Congress has acted to close loopholes in the current law. This new legislation:
--establishes higher minimum standards of safety which must be met within 2 years by passenger ships sailing from U.S. ports,
--requires disclosure of vessel safety standards in all advertising in the United States,
--requires vessel owners to submit evidence of their financial responsibility to meet passenger claims for injury, death, or sailing cancellations.
There is, however, a significant omission in the law. No action was taken to repeal the inadequate limitations on the liability of a shipowner for personal injury or death. To protect the traveling public, we shall make another effort next year to repeal these outmoded limitations on a shipowner's liability.
We can no longer tolerate unnecessary loss of life at sea. Modern science has provided us with the technical know-how to prevent such losses. We must insist that this know-how be fully mobilized and employed to safeguard the lives and welfare of our traveling citizens.
Note: As enacted, the bill (H.R. 10327) is Public Law 89-777 (80 Stat. 1356).
The statement was released at San Antonio, Texas.
Lyndon B. Johnson, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Relating to Vessel Safety and the Financial Responsibility of Owners. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/238498