2006—Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 109–304, § 15(10), as amended
by Pub. L. 110–181, substituted ‘‘Secretary of Homeland
Security shall withhold or revoke the clearance required by section 60105 of this title’’ for ‘‘Secretary of
the Treasury shall withhold or revoke the clearance required by section 4197 of the Revised Statutes (46 U.S.C.
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 2008 AMENDMENT
Pub. L. 110–181, div. C, title XXXV, § 3529(b)(2), Jan.
28, 2008, 122 Stat. 603, provided that: ‘‘The amendments
made by paragraph (1) [amending this section and section 31325 of this title] shall be effective as if included
in the enactment of Public Law 109–304.’’
CHAPTER 33—INSPECTION GENERALLY
Vessels subject to inspection.
Reciprocity for foreign vessels.
Transporting individuals in addition to crew.
Scope and standards of inspection.
Frequency of inspection.
Certificate of inspection.
Records of certification.
Certificate of inspection required.
Display of certificate of inspection.
Compliance with certificate of inspection.
Expiration of certificate of inspection.
Disclosure of defects and protection of informants.
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Chapter 33 consolidates the laws governing the inspection and certification of vessels by the Coast Guard
that have developed over a period in excess of 140 years.
The original laws were directed to the safety of the relatively new and potentially dangerous steam vessel.
The demand for Federal remedial legislation began during the early 1800’s after frequent and disastrous explosions of steam boilers on passenger vessels. This directly led to the first maritime safety laws in 1838 that
required periodic inspection and certification of vessels
engaged in the transportation of passengers and freight
on the waters of the United States. This was followed
by a more extensive steamboat inspection law in 1852
which adopted for the first time the principle of licensing for river pilots and engineers. It also created a new
Federal maritime safety inspection service called the
Federal Inspection Service that eventually became the
Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation, whose duties were temporarily assumed in 1941 and permanently
assumed in 1946 by the United States Coast Guard.
In 1864 the principal inspection and licensing provisions of the 1852 act were made applicable to ferries,
towing vessels, and canal boats. However, steamboat
explosions continued with high loss of life and property. One of the greatest of all disasters, the destruction of the passenger vessel Sultana by explosion and
fire with a loss of life estimated at more than 1500 lives
in April 1865, led to renewed legislation efforts. In 1871
this culminated with legislation that combined a number of new requirements into a coherent and unified
body of maritime safety laws. At the time of the adoption of the Revised Statutes in 1874, a maritime safety
code was well established for vessels propelled in whole
or in part by steam.
In the more than 100 years since then, as the public
recognized the need for vessel safety legislation, primarily as the result of maritime disasters, other classes of vessels were subjected to Federal inspection or
regulatory control. These included vessels propelled by
gas, fluid, naphtha, or electric motors in 1897; sail vessels and barges carrying passengers for hire in 1898; sea-
going barges in 1908; motorboats in 1910; steam vessels
owned by the Department of Commerce in 1919; seagoing vessels of 300 gross tons and over on June 20, 1936;
all tank vessels carrying flammable or combustible liquid cargo in bulk regardless of size or means of propulsion of June 23, 1936; motorboats again in 1940; all vessels carrying more than six passengers in 1956; tank
vessels again in 1978; and offshore supply vessels in 1980.
There was also considerable legislation that amended
or supplemented these primary maritime safety laws.
The net result has been a patchwork quilt of categories and classifications that requires a tabulation of
more than seventy different classes of inspected vessels. This revision gathers into one section of the law
all classes of vessels that are subject to inspection and
certification without changing the application of
present law as to any one class of vessel. The revision
does not alter the application of the present law so as
to expand inspection requirements to any vessel presently not subject to inspection nor to remove from inspection any vessel that is presently subject to inspection.
1996—Pub. L. 104–324, title VI, § 607(b)(2), Oct. 19, 1996,
110 Stat. 3932, substituted ‘‘Classification societies’’ for
‘‘United States classification societies’’ in item 3316.
1986—Pub. L. 99–307, § 1(5)(B), May 19, 1986, 100 Stat.
445, substituted ‘‘Transporting’’ for ‘‘Carrying’’ in item
§ 3301. Vessels subject to inspection
The following categories of vessels are subject
to inspection under this part:
(1) freight vessels.
(2) nautical school vessels.
(3) offshore supply vessels.
(4) passenger vessels.
(5) sailing school vessels.
(6) seagoing barges.
(7) seagoing motor vessels.
(8) small passenger vessels.
(9) steam vessels.
(10) tank vessels.
(11) fish processing vessels.
(12) fish tender vessels.
(13) Great Lakes barges.
(14) oil spill response vessels.
(15) towing vessels.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 510; Pub. L.
98–364, title IV, § 402(2), July 17, 1984, 98 Stat. 445;
Pub. L. 102–587, title V, § 5208(b), Nov. 4, 1992, 106
Stat. 5076; Pub. L. 104–324, title XI, § 1104(g), Oct.
19, 1996, 110 Stat. 3967; Pub. L. 108–293, title IV,
§ 415(a), Aug. 9, 2004, 118 Stat. 1047.)
HISTORICAL AND REVISION NOTES
Source section (U.S. Code)
Section 3301 lists all classes of vessels that are subject to inspection and certification by the Coast Guard.
This section represents one of the sought-after advantages of the bill to simplify access to the provisions of
law governing the regulation of vessels. Under the
present law, a vessel’s inspection status must be determined by examining a table appearing at section
2.01–7A of title 46, Code of Federal Regulations that divides all vessels into more than 70 separate classes.
It is important to note that while the classes of vessels are now limited to ten, there is no prohibition
against developing regulations to meet the special
needs of various size vessels within any one category.
For example, it is expected that the Coast Guard will
continue the practice of establishing standards for
freight vessels of not more than 100 gross tons and
other standards for larger freight vessels.
It should also be noted that a particular vessel can,
when engaged in various types of operations, be subject
to varying inspection laws. For example, an offshore
supply vessel could be classed as a small passenger vessel or a passenger vessel when it operates as a crew
boat carrying individuals other than those defined in
section 2101(21). If the offshore supply vessel is 500 gross
tons and over it would then be subject to inspection as
a seagoing motor vessel, a freight vessel, or a passenger
2004—Par. (15). Pub. L. 108–293 added par. (15).
1996—Par. (14). Pub. L. 104–324 added par. (14).
1992—Par. (13). Pub. L. 102–587 added par. (13).
1984—Pars. (11), (12). Pub. L. 98–364 added pars. (11)
EFFECTIVE DATE OF 1992 AMENDMENT
Amendment by Pub. L. 102–587 effective Nov. 4, 1992,
for Great Lakes barges placed in operation after Nov. 4,
1992, and effective one year after Nov. 4, 1992, for Great
Lakes barges in operation on Nov. 4, 1992, with provision for interim safety requirements, see section
5208(c), (d) of Pub. L. 102–587, set out as a note under
section 2101 of this title.
‘‘(2) the State will provide such information obtained through the inspection program to the Secretary annually in such form and in such detail as the
Secretary may require.
‘‘(b) FEES.—The Secretary may adjust or waive the
user fee imposed under section 3317 of title 46, United
States Code, for the inspection of small passenger vessels inspected under the State program.
‘‘(c) TERMINATION.—The authority provided by subsection (a) terminates on December 31, 1999.
‘‘(d) DEFINITIONS.—For purposes of this section—
‘‘(1) SECRETARY.—The term ‘Secretary’ means the
Secretary of the department in which the Coast
Guard is operating.
‘‘(2) STATE.—The term ‘State’ means the State of
‘‘(3) SMALL PASSENGER VESSEL.—The term ‘small
passenger vessel’ means a small passenger vessel (as
defined in section 2101(35) [now 2101(45)] of title 46,
United States Code) of not more than 40 feet overall
[For transfer of authorities, functions, personnel, and
assets of the Coast Guard, including the authorities
and functions of the Secretary of Transportation relating thereto, to the Department of Homeland Security,
and for treatment of related references, see sections
468(b), 551(d), 552(d), and 557 of Title 6, Domestic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan of November 25, 2002, as modified, set
out as a note under section 542 of Title 6.]
§ 3302. Exemptions
(a) A vessel is not excluded from one category
only because the vessel is—
(1) included in another category of section
3301 of this title; or
(2) excluded by this section from another
category of section 3301 of this title.
SMALL PASSENGER VESSEL PILOT INSPECTION PROGRAM
WITH STATE OF MINNESOTA
(b) Except as provided in subsection (c)(3) of
this section, a fishing vessel, including a vessel
chartered part-time as a fish tender vessel, is exempt from section 3301(1), (7), (11), and (12) of
(c)(1) Except as provided in paragraph (3) of
this subsection, a fish processing vessel of not
more than 5,000 gross tons as measured under
section 14502 of this title, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of this title
as prescribed by the Secretary under section
14104 of this title is exempt from section 3301(1),
(6), (7), (11), and (12) of this title.
(2) Except as provided in paragraphs (3) and (4)
of this subsection, the following fish tender vessels are exempt from section 3301(1), (6), (7), (11),
and (12) of this title:
(A) A vessel of not more than 500 gross tons
as measured under section 14502 of this title or
an alternate tonnage measured under section
14302 of this title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of this title.
(B) A vessel engaged in the Aleutian trade
that is not more than 2,500 gross tons as measured under section 14302 of this title.
Pub. L. 104–324, title XI, § 1122, Oct. 19, 1996, 110 Stat.
3979, provided that:
‘‘(a) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may enter into an
agreement with the State under which the State may
inspect small passenger vessels operating in waters of
that State designated by the Secretary, if—
‘‘(1) the State plan for the inspection of small passenger vessels meets such requirements as the Secretary may require to ensure the safety and operation of such vessels in accordance with the standards that would apply if the Coast Guard were inspecting such vessels; and
(3)(A) A fishing vessel or fish processing vessel
is exempt from section 3301(1), (6), and (7) of this
title when transporting cargo (including fisheries-related cargo) to or from a place in Alaska
(i) that place does not receive weekly common carrier service by water from a place in
the United States;
(ii) that place receives such common carrier
service and the cargo is of a type not accepted
by that common carrier service; or
Section effective Apr. 15, 1984, see section 2(g)(1) of
Pub. L. 98–89, set out as a note under section 3101 of
Pub. L. 105–383, title IV, § 412(b), Nov. 13, 1998, 112
Stat. 3432, provided that:
‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary may establish a
pilot program to exempt a vessel of at least 300 gross
tons as measured under chapter 143 or chapter 145 of
title 46, United States Code, from the requirement to be
inspected under section 3301(7) of title 46, United States
Code, as a seagoing motor vessel, if—
‘‘(A) the vessel does not carry any cargo or passengers for hire;
‘‘(B) the vessel does not engage in commercial service, commercial fisheries, or oceanographic research;
‘‘(C) the vessel does not engage in towing.
‘‘(2) EXPIRATION OF AUTHORITY.—The authority to
grant the exemptions under this subsection expires 2
years after the date of the enactment of this Act [Nov.
13, 1998]. Any specific exemptions granted under this
subsection shall nonetheless remain in effect.’’