CLA-2 CO:R:C:G 085235 AJS

Mr. Kenneth Gebhart
Celestaire, Inc.
416 S. Pershing
Wichita, KS 67218

RE: Marine sextants and navigational calculators

Dear Mr. Gebhart:

Your letter of June 4, 1989, requesting the tariff classification of marine sextants and navigational calculators within the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States Annotated (HTSUSA), has been referred to this office for reply.


The first articles at issue are the Freiberger Yacht Sextant and the Freiberger Drum Sextant which are both manufactured in the German Democratic Republic. These articles are marine sextants, which are portable instruments used by navigators to measure the altitude of celestial bodies for navigational purposes. The altitude is calculated by measuring the angular distance between two objects. These sextants possess telescopic sights for sighting the sun or stars, and an index mirror and horizon mirror. The user of the sextants utilizes the visible sea horizon as the horizontal reference point for measurement by sighting through the sextant's telescope.

The Merlin II Navigational Computer is claimed to be a dedicated navigational instrument. It is a Sharp pocket computer (model PC-1248), which has been programmed to perform navigational functions. The user simply inputs information obtained with a navigational instrument into the computer. The computer then calculates the line of position from this information. Basically, the Merlin II takes the place of a navigation table. This instrument is manufactured in Japan and programmed in Australia.



Whether the marine sextants in question are classifiable within 9014.80.50, HTSUSA, which provides for other navigational instruments; or classifiable within subheading 9014.80.10, HTSUSA, which provides for optical navigational instruments.

Whether the Merlin II is also classifiable within subheading 9014.80.50 as a navigational instrument; or classifiable within subheading 8471.20.00, HTSUSA, which provides for digital data processing machine.


Classification of merchandise under the HTSUSA is governed by the General Rules of Interpretation (GRI's). GRI 1 provides that classification is determined first in accordance with the terms of the headings of the tariff and any relative section or chapter notes.

Heading 9014, HTSUSA, provides for "[d]irection finding compasses; other navigational instruments and appliances; parts and accessories thereof:". Explanatory Note (EN) 90.14(II) states that this heading includes instruments for the determination of a ship's position such as sextants. Thus, the sextants in question are specifically provided for within this heading.

Subheading 9014.80, HTSUSA provides for "other instruments and appliances" within heading 9014. Subheading 9014.80.10, HTSUSA, provides for optical instruments. The sextants at issue contain telescopic sights and mirrors which are essential to their function. The submitted literature contains a section entitled "Optical Quality" which states that "[t]he size of the mirrors on a sextant generally vary directly with the quality of the instrument. Large index and horizon mirrors are desirable because larger mirrors admit more light, making it possible to obtain sights in marginal conditions." The section regarding "Scopes" lists three types of scopes used in sextants. Further- more, it states that if a sextant is to contain only one scope, a four power scope would be the logical choice since it can be used for taking both sun and star sights. Both the sextants in question contain scopes, and one version contains the four power type. This information indicates that scopes and mirrors play an essential role in the use of sextants.

The word "optical" is defined as "relating to vision" or "designed or constructed to aid the vision". Webster's Third New International Dictionary, (1986), pg. 1584. The mirrors and


scopes contained in the sextants are designed to aid in the taking of sights. Therefore, the sextants in question satisfy the description of "optical" navigational instruments and are classifiable within subheading 9014.80.10, HTSUSA.

You claim that the Merlin II is a dedicated navigational instrument. You also claim that the unit has been primarily modified to perform only navigational functions and is incapable of performing simple arithmetic functions. However, the sample submitted does not support these claims. The Merlin II is capable of reprogramming by interfacing it with other data processing machines, such as data sets. It is also capable of performing arithmetical functions such as multiplication and division, that are not dependent on installed navigational programs. Thus, the Merlin II is not a dedicated navigational instrument but instead some type of calculating or data processing machine. If the article in question is a calculating machine, it would be excluded from chapter 90 and the heading covering navigational instruments. Chapter 90, Note 1(f).

Heading 8470, HTSUSA, provides for calculating machines. All machines of this heading have one common characteristic in that they include a calculating device enabling them to add together at least two figures each comprising several digits. EN 84.70. Calculating machines comprise a wide range of machines varying from the simplest types which can only add and subtract to more complex machines which can perform the four arithmetic operations and several other types of calculations. EN 84.70(A). The Merlin II could possibly satisfy this description. However, electronic programmable calculators differ from automatic data processing (ADP) machines, in particular by the fact that they cannot execute, without human intervention, a processing program which requires them to modify their execution by logical decisions during the processing run. The article in question falls within this distinction between programmable calculators and ADP machines. Therefore, the Merlin II is excluded from heading 8470.

Heading 8471, HTSUSA, provides for automatic data processing machines and units thereof. Digital data processing machines of this heading must be capable of simultaneously:

(1) Storing the processing program or programs and at least the data immediately necessary for the execution of the program;

(2) Being freely programmable in accordance with the requirements of the user;

(3) Performing arithmetical computations specified by the user;


(4) Executing, without human intervention, a processing program which requires them to modify their execution, by logical decision during the processing run.

EN 84.71(I). The Merlin II meets this description of a digital processing machine.

EN 84.71(A) states that a complete digital data processing machine must also contain at least a central processing unit, an input unit and an output unit. The Merlin II contains all three of these units in the same housing. This type of device is specifically provided for within subheading 8471.20.00, HTSUSA.


The marine sextants in question are classifiable within subheading 9014.80.10, HTSUSA, which provides for optical navigational instruments. They are a product of the German Democratic Republic, which is a column 2 country, and therefore dutiable at 45 percent ad valorem.

The Merlin II is classifiable within subheading 8471.20.00, HTSUSA, which provides for digital automatic processing machines, dutiable at 3.9 percent ad valorem.


John Durant, Director
Commercial Rulings Division