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THE GUL DJEMAL, 264 U.S. 90 (1924)

U.S. Supreme Court

THE GUL DJEMAL, 264 U.S. 90 (1924)

264 U.S. 90


No. 83.

Argued Jan. 4, 1924.
Decided Feb. 18, 1924.

Messrs. Wm. A. Purrington and John M. Woolsey, both of New York City, for appellant.

Mr. Oscar R. Houston, of New York City, for appellee.

Mr. Justice McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Seeking to recover for supplies and services furnished at New York during November, 1920, in order to fit her [264 U.S. 90, 91]   for an intended voyage across the Atlantic, appellee libeled the steamship Gul Djemal and caused her arrest under the ordinary admiralty practice. Her master, appearing for the sole purpose of objecting to the court's jurisdiction, claimed immunity for the vessel because owned and possessed by the Turkish government, and asked that she be released. No one except the master has advanced this claim.

The parties stipulated1: The Turkish government and the United States are at peace with each other, but diplomatic relations have been severed. The Gul Djemal is the absolute property of the Turkish government and under the administration of the transport section of the Ministry of Marine. That government employed and [264 U.S. 90, 92]   paid the master, officers and crew-the master being a reserve naval officer-and was in possession of the ship when arrested. She--

The court below denied the alleged immunity and passed a decree for the libelant. Upon this direct appeal only the question of jurisdiction is presented. The relevant certificate follows:

Appellee maintains that whatever may be the proper rule in our courts concerning the ultimate immunity of vessels owned by foreign governments and employed in ordinary trade and commerce, such immunity will not be granted upon the mere claim of the master, especially when the United States has no diplomatic relations with the sovereign owner. Such claim can be made only by one duly authorized to vindicate the owner's sovereignty. Ex parte Muir, 254 U.S. 522, 532 , 533 S., 41 Sup. Ct. 185, 187 ( 65 L. Ed. 383), is relied upon to support this view. It is there said:

Treating Ex parte Muir as relevant, appellant insists that within the meaning of the declaration there made the master of the Gul Djemal, a duly commissioned officer of [264 U.S. 90, 95]   the Turkish Navy, was the accredited and recognized representative of that government, possessed of adequate authority to protest against the seizure and object to the court's jurisdiction.

We agree with the view advanced by the appellee. The Anne, 3 Wheat. 435, reaffirmed by The Sao Vicente, 260 U.S. 151 , 43 Sup. Ct. 15, is enough to show that the immunity could not have been successfully set up by a duly recognized consul, representative of his sovereign in commercial matters, in the ordinary course of his official duties, and there seems no adequate reason to presume that the master of the Gul Djemal had any greater authority in respect thereto. Although an officer of the Turkish Navy, he was performing no naval or military duty, and was serving upon a vessel not functioning in naval or military capacity, but engaged in commerce under charter to a private individual, who undertook to carry passengers and goods for hire. He was not shown to have any authority to represent his sovereign, other than can be inferred from his position as master and the circumstances specified in the stipulation of facts.


Mr. Justice HOLMES concurs in the result.


[ Footnote 1 ] 'First. That at all the times mentioned in the libel herein, and at the time of the arrest of the Gul Djemal, the Gul Djemal was owned by the Turkish or Ottoman government; that it flies the Turkish flag; that Turkey has but one flag, for both national and commercial uses; that it is registered in the name of Seire-Seffain Administration; that the Gul Djemal is the absolute property of the Ottoman Seire-Seffain Administration, the third division of the Ministry of Marine of the Turkish government, which is attached to the Ministry of War; that the maritime title has been given to the Administration Seire-Seffain by the Ministry of War. Said Seire-Seffain Administration, at the times above mentioned, was (and is) the transport section of the Ministry of Marine, and was (and is) charged with the control of transport vessels of the Turkish government, and said vessels (of which the Gul Djemal was one), which are capable of commercial uses, are, when not used as transports, used in commerce; whether such vessels are used as transports or in commerce is subject to the direction of the Ministry of Marine, which, through departments other than the Seire-Seffain has charge of battleships, artillery, torpedos, wireless, and engineering work pertaining to all the vessels of the Turkish navy; that the Gul Djemal was transferred for operation to the Administration Seire-Seffain from the Ministry of War in 1914 and has since been under the control of Administration of Seire- Seffain.

Turkish government charged with naval or military affairs; the other officers and entire crew of the Gul Djemal, during the times above mentioned, were civilians, paid by the Turkish government.

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