MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.
Respondent, a Philippine corporation owned largely by Americans, brought this suit against the United States in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, alleging jurisdiction under the Suits in Admiralty Act, 41 Stat. 525, as amended, 46 U. S. C. § 741 et seq., and the Public Vessels Act, 43 Stat. 1112, as amended, 46 U. S. C. § 781 et seq. It sought recovery
Upon the United States' motion for summary judgment, the District Court held that since the naval destroyer was a "public vessel of the United States," the suit was governed by the provisions of the Public Vessels Act. See 46 U. S. C. § 781. In particular, the court held that respondent was subject to the Act's reciprocity provision, which bars any suit by a foreign national under the Act unless it appears that his government, "under similar circumstances, allows nationals of the United States to sue in its courts." § 785. Finding no such reciprocity, the District Court dismissed the complaint.
The Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed on the ground that respondent's action, although involving a public vessel, is maintainable under the Suits in Admiralty Act without reference to the reciprocity provision of the Public Vessels Act. 499 F.2d 774 (1974). We granted certiorari, 420 U.S. 971 (1975), and we now reverse.
It is undisputed that before 1960 suits involving public vessels could not be maintained under the Suits in Admiralty Act. The Act then authorized suits involving vessels owned by, possessed by, or operated by or for the United States as follows:
In 1960, however, Congress amended this provision of the Suits in Admiralty Act by deleting the proviso, italicized above, that the vessel must be "employed as a merchant vessel." 74 Stat. 912. Reading the amended provision literally, the Court of Appeals held that suits involving public vessels could now be brought under the Suits in Admiralty Act. free from the restrictions imposed by the Public Vessels Act. The court reached this result in spite of its acknowledgment that "such a conclusion permits the [Public Vessels Act's] reciprocity provision to be circumvented in a manner neither explicitly authorized nor perhaps contemplated by Congress." 499 F. 2d, at 778.
The Court of Appeals' result would permit circumvention of not only the reciprocity requirement, but also several other significant limitations imposed upon suits brought under the Public Vessels Act. Under 46 U. S. C. § 784, for example, officers and members of the crew of a public vessel may not be subpoenaed in connection with any suit authorized by the Public Vessels Act without the consent of the Secretary of the Department, the commanding officer, or certain other persons. In time of war, the Secretary of the Navy can obtain a stay of any suit brought under the Public Vessels Act when it appears that prosecution of the suit would tend to interfere with naval operations. 10 U. S. C. §§ 7721-7730. And under the Public Vessels Act, unlike under the Suits in Admiralty Act, interest on judgments does not accrue prior to the time of judgment. Compare 46 U. S. C. § 782 with 46 U. S. C. § 745.
The Public Vessels Act was not amended in 1960, and, as the Court of Appeals recognized, the 1960 amendment to the Suits in Admiralty Act contains no language expressly permitting claims previously governed by the Public Vessels Act to be brought under the Suits in Admiralty Act, free from the restrictive provisions of the Public Vessels Act. What amounts to the effective repeal of those provisions is urged as a matter of implication. It is, of course, a cardinal principle of statutory construction that repeals by implication are not favored. See, e. g., Regional Rail Reorganization Act Cases, 419 U.S. 102, 133 (1974); Amell v. United States, 384 U.S. 158, 165-166 (1966); Silver v. New York Stock Exchange,
To be sure, the principle of these cases is not precisely applicable in this case—for here the argument is not that the Public Vessels Act can no longer have application to a particular set of facts, but simply that its terms can be evaded at will by asserting jurisdiction under another statute. We should, however, be as hesitant to infer that Congress intended to authorize evasion of a statute at will as we are to infer that Congress intended to narrow the scope of a statute. Both types of "repeal" —effective and actual—involve the compromise or abandonment of previously articulated policies, and we would normally expect some expression by Congress that such results are intended. Indeed, the expectation that there would be some expression of an intent to "repeal" is particularly strong in a case like this one, in which the "repeal" would extend to virtually every case to which the statute had application.
The ultimate question in this case is whether Congress intended, by the deletion of the "employed as a merchant vessel" proviso from the Suits in Admiralty Act, to authorize the wholesale evasion of the restrictions specifically imposed by the Public Vessels Act on suits for damages caused by public vessels. An examination of the history of the Suits in Admiralty Act, the Public Vessels Act, and, in particular, the 1960 amendment to the Suits in Admiralty Act, indicates quite clearly that Congress had no such intent.
The history of the Suits in Admiralty Act and the Public Vessels Act has been the subject of the Court's attention on several prior occasions. See Canadian Aviator, Ltd. v. United States, 324 U.S. 215, 218-225 (1945); American Stevedores, Inc. v. Porello, 330 U.S. 446, 450-454 (1947); Johansen v. United States, 343 U.S. 427, 432-434 (1952); Amell v. United States, supra, at 164-166. The history is quite clear and, for our purposes, can be stated briefly.
Prior to 1916, the doctrine of sovereign immunity barred any suit by a private owner whose vessel was damaged by a vessel owned or operated by the United States. Recognizing the inequities of denying recovery to private owners and the difficulties inherent in attempting to grant relief to deserving private owners through private Acts of Congress, Congress provided in the Shipping Act, 1916, that Shipping Board vessels employed as merchant vessels were subject to "all laws, regulations, and liabilities governing merchant vessels." 39 Stat. 730, 46 U. S. C. § 808. In The Lake Monroe, 250 U.S. 246 (1919), this Court held that the Shipping Act had subjected all Shipping Board merchant vessels to proceedings in rem in admiralty, including arrest and seizure. Congress, concerned that the arrest and seizure of Shipping Board merchant vessels would occasion unnecessary delay and expense, promptly responded to the Lake Monroe decision by enacting the Suits in Admiralty Act.
Until 1925 the only recourse for the owner of a vessel or cargo damaged by a public vessel was to apply to Congress for a private bill. In that year, Congress enacted the Public Vessels Act, which authorized a libel in personam against the United States "for damages caused by a public vessel of the United States." 46 U. S. C. § 781. The Act provided that suits involving public vessels "shall be subject to and proceed in accordance with the provisions of [the Suits in Admiralty Act] or any amendment thereof, insofar as the same are not inconsistent herewith . . . ." § 782. Some of the inconsistencies lay in the Public Vessels Act's provisions, referred to above, restricting subpoenas to officers and crew members of a public vessel, barring recovery of prejudgment interest, and imposing a requirement of reciprocity. Each of these provisions must be assumed to have reflected deliberate policy choices by Congress. In particular, the notion of reciprocity was central to the scheme enacted by Congress. One of the spurs to enactment of the Public Vessels Act was Congress' recognition that the principal maritime nations, notably England, France, and Germany, already permitted their nationals
The 1960 amendment to the Suits in Admiralty Act, which formed the basis of the Court of Appeals' decision, was an outgrowth of severe jurisdictional problems facing the plaintiff with a maritime claim against the United States. Both the Suits in Admiralty Act and the Public Vessels Act authorized suits on the admiralty side of the district courts, and were viewed as providing the exclusive remedy for claims within their coverage. See 46 U. S. C. § 745; Johnson v. United States Shipping Board Emergency Fleet Corp., 280 U.S. 320 (1930); Aliotti v. United States, 221 F.2d 598 (CA9 1955). But these Acts were not generally interpreted to encompass all actionable maritime claims against the United States. Maritime tort claims deemed beyond the reach of both Acts could be brought only on the law side of the district courts under the Federal Tort Claims Act. 28 U. S. C. §§ 1346 (b), 2671 et seq. More importantly for our purposes, contract claims not encompassed by either Act fell within the Tucker Act, which lodged exclusive jurisdiction in the Court of Claims for claims exceeding $10,000. 28 U. S. C. §§ 1346 (a) (2), 1491.
A plaintiff with a contract claim against the United States for more than $10,000 often found himself in a
Because of serious uncertainties about the reach of the Suits in Admiralty and Public Vessels Acts on the one hand, and the Tucker Act on the other, the crucial determination of the appropriate forum for a claim was often a difficult one.
The sharp reversals of position by the Government and the courts in the Calmar case were but illustrative of the jurisdictional uncertainties faced by potential litigants. In several instances, courts reached conflicting results as to whether certain types of claims should be brought in the district court under the Suits in Admiralty
It was the difficulty in determining the appropriate forum for a maritime claim against the United States that moved Congress to amend the Suits in Admiralty Act in 1960. The amendment first passed by the House in 1959 was designed to ameliorate the harsh consequences of misfilings by authorizing the transfer of cases between the district courts and the Court of Claims.
Accordingly, the committee, while accepting the House
Two amendments were designed to clarify the jurisdictional language of the Suits in Admiralty Act. First, the committee added language authorizing suits against the United States where a suit would be maintainable "if a private person or property were involved." The prior version of the Act had authorized suits against the United States only when suits would be maintainable if the "vessel" or "cargo" were privately owned, operated, or possessed, and that language had generated considerable confusion.
Respondent contends that the deletion of the "employed as a merchant vessel" proviso was intended to abolish the distinction between a merchant vessel and a public vessel, and thereby enable suits previously cognizable under the Public Vessels Act to be brought under the Suits in Admiralty Act, free from the restrictive provisions of the Public Vessels Act. There is no indication that Congress had any such broad purpose.
The definitions of "merchant vessel" and "public vessel" were of interest to Congress only insofar as they related to Congress' basic purpose: to remove uncertainty over the proper forum for a claim against the United States. In this regard, it is quite clear that Congress' concern was not with uncertainty whether a suit should be brought under the Suits in Admiralty Act or under the Public Vessels Act, since in either event the proper forum was the admiralty side of the district court. See
In short, Congress saw confusion between the category of suits cognizable under the Suits in Admiralty Act or Public Vessels Act on the one hand, and the category of suits cognizable under the Tucker Act on the other. It attempted to eliminate the confusion between these two categories by expanding the scope of the Suits in Admiralty Act at the expense of the Tucker Act—thereby virtually eliminating the quasi-admiralty jurisdiction of the Court of Claims under the Tucker Act.
That the House and Senate Reports contain a reference to "confusion in establishing whether a vessel is a `merchant vessel' or a `public vessel' " does not suggest otherwise. That reference appears in the course of a discussion of the difficulty in choosing the proper forum for a claim. To a limited extent, doubt whether a vessel
Congress' concern was that because of differences in the authorizational language of the Suits in Admiralty Act and the Public Vessels Act, some claims that would clearly have been within the jurisdiction of the district court if merchant vessels were involved had been held to be beyond the district court's jurisdiction when public vessels were involved. Thus, some courts had held that contract claims other than those expressly authorized by the Public Vessels Act were generally not cognizable under the Act.
In sum, the interpretation of the 1960 amendment advanced by the respondent and adopted by the Court of Appeals would effectively nullify specific policy judgments made by Congress when it enacted the Public Vessels Act, by enabling litigants to bring suits previously subject to the terms of the Public Vessels Act under the Suits in Admiralty Act. The language of the amendment does not explicitly authorize such a result, and the legislative history reflects a narrow congressional purpose that would not be advanced by that result. We therefore hold that claims within the scope of the Public Vessels Act remain subject to its terms after the 1960 amendment to the Suits in Admiralty Act. Since there is no dispute that respondent's claim falls within the embrace of the Public Vessels Act, the Court of Appeals erred in concluding that the reciprocity provision of the Public Vessels Act is inapplicable.
Respondent urges two additional grounds for affirmance. First, it contends that the reciprocity provision, even if applicable, does not bar its claim, because the owners of 99% of its stock are Americans and it is in substance an American owner. The District Court rejected
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed, and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE STEVENS took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.
MR. JUSTICE STEWART, dissenting.
Congress amended the Suits in Admiralty Act in 1960 to eliminate the distinction the Act formerly drew between public vessels and merchant vessels owned or operated by the United States. 74 Stat. 912. See S. Rep. No. 1894, 86th Cong., 2d Sess., 3 (1960). See also S. Rep. No. 92-1079, pp. 5-6 (1972). Six years later the then Solicitor General explained the effect of that amendment in a brief filed on behalf of the Government in this Court:
In the present case the Government has steered an entirely different course, arguing that Congress did not intend to expand the scope of the Suits in Admiralty Act to include public vessels, and that the plain language of the Act should be ignored. I cannot accept this boxing of the compass. At best, the United States has demonstrated only that the legislative history indicates that Congress was concerned with more than one problem in amending the law. But ambiguous legislative history surely cannot suffice to undermine the plain words of the statute, when no persuasive policy considerations
"Since the applicability of [the Suits in Admiralty, Public Vessels, and Tucker Acts] to a given factual situation is frequently exceedingly difficult to determine and a question on which reasonable men may differ, lawyers in maritime practice occasionally and unavoidably bring suit in the wrong forum." House Report 2; Senate Report 3.
This amendment, which has no bearing on this case, has generally been held to require that those maritime tort claims that were previously cognizable only on the law side of the district courts under the Federal Tort Claims Act now be brought on the admiralty side of the district courts under the Suits in Admiralty Act. See T. J. Falgout Boats, Inc. v. United States, 361 F.Supp. 838 (CD Cal. 1972), aff'd, 508 F.2d 855 (CA9 1974), cert. denied, 421 U.S. 1000 (1975); Roberts v. United States, 498 F.2d 520 (CA9), cert. denied, 419 U.S. 1070 (1974); De Bardeleben Marine Corp. v. United States, 451 F.2d 140 (CA5 1971); Utzinger v. United States, 246 F.Supp. 1022 (SD Ohio 1965); Tankrederiet Gefion A/S v. United States, 241 F.Supp. 83 (ED Mich. 1964); Tebbs v. Baker-Whitely Towing Co., 227 F.Supp. 656 (Md. 1964); Beeler v. United States, 224 F.Supp. 973 (WD Pa.), rev'd on other grounds, 338 F.2d 687 (CA3 1964).