Whenever the President finds it necessary in the interest of United States commitments abroad to provide facilities and services for United States merchant seamen in foreign areas, he may authorize the Secretary of Defense, under such regulations as the Secretary may prescribe, to cooperate with and assist the United Seamen’s Service in establishing and providing those facilities and services.
(b) Personnel of the United Seamen’s Service who are performing duties in connection with the cooperation and assistance under subsection (a) may be furnished—
meals and quarters, at their expense or at the expense of the United Seamen’s Service, except that where civilian employees of the armed forces are quartered without charge, employees of the United Seamen’s Service may also be quartered without charge; and
No fee may be charged for a passport issued to an employee of the United Seamen’s Service for travel outside the United States to assume or perform duties under this section.
Supplies of the United Seamen’s Service, including gifts for the use of merchant seamen, may be transported at the expense of the United States, if it is determined under regulations prescribed under subsection (a) that they are necessary to the cooperation and assistance provided under this section.
Where practicable, the President shall also make arrangements to provide for convertibility of local currencies for the United Seamen’s Service, in connection with its activities under subsection (a).
For the purposes of this section, employees of the United Seamen’s Service may not be considered as employees of the United States.