VES-3-CO:R:IT:C 113219 LLB
Mr. Robert W. Crandall
Maritime Research Bureau
RR #1, Box 3714
Alta, Wyoming 83422-9607
Re: Coastwise trade; Dredging; Foreign vessels; Territorial
waters; 46 U.S.C. App. 292 and 883
Dear Mr. Crandall:
Reference is made to your letter of August 30, 1994, in
which you request a ruling regarding the proposed use of Chinese
vessels in a dredging project to be conducted in California.
It is proposed that Chinese-built dredge vessels and dredge
barges be operated in a joint-venture with an American dredging
concern, and be employed in an Army Corps of Engineers project.
The project would involve the use of the vessels in dredging ship
channels in the Port of Oakland, California. The dredged
material would be transported to any of three sites, two of them
on land and a third located some 50 miles from San Francisco Bay.
It is stated that the vessels would be manned by Americans.
Whether the dredging and transportation statutes of the
United States prohibit the use of foreign vessels in dredging and
hauling activities conducted within the waters under the
jurisdiction of the United States.
LAW AND ANALYSIS:
Title 46, United States Code App., section 292, provides
that with one execption not applicable in the present case,
vessels may not dredge in the navigable waters of the United
States unless they meet the requirements of 46 U.S.C. App. 883.
Title 46, United States Code App., section 883, provides,
in pertinent part, that:
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No merchandise shall be transported by water, or land
and water, on penalty of forfeiture thereof, between
points in the United States, including Districts,
Territories, and possessions thereof embraced within
the coastwise laws, either directly or via a foreign
port, or for any part of the transportation, in any
other vessel than a vessel built in and documented
under laws of the United States and owned by persons
who are citizens of the United States...
By the Act of June 7, 1988, (Pub. L. 100-329, 102 Stat.
588), section 883 was amended to provide:
That for purposes of this section, the term
"merchandise" includes valueless material: Provided
further, That this section applies to the
transportation of valueless material or any dredged
material regardless of whether it has commercial value,
from a point or place in the United States or a point
or place on the high seas within the Exclusive Economic
Zone as defined in the Presidential Proclamation of
March 10, 1983, to another point or place in the United
States or a point or place on the high seas within that
Exclusive Economic Zone.
Points and places in the United States include all areas
within the three mile territorial waters of the United States,
and the Exclusive Economic Zone encompasses an area extending 200
miles from the U.S. coastline. All of these provisions, taken
together, combine to prohibit your proposal in that only properly
qualified and documented U.S.-flag vessels may be used to dredge
and to haul dredge spoil within the geographic confines which
have been identified.
The use of Chinese-built vessels to engage in dredging and
dredge spoil transportation activities within the waters under
United States jurisdiction is prohibited by statute.
Arthur P. Schifflin
Carrier Rulings Branch