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HQ 110305

June 16, 1989

VES-3-06-CO:R:P:C 110305 GV


David Greenberg
California Ships Inc.
9348 Civic Center Drive, Suite 201
Beverly Hills, California 90210


Dear Mr. Greenberg:

This is in reference to your letter of June 14, 1989, requesting a reconsideration of our ruling of the same date which held that the use of the above referenced vessel to shoot off fireworks is in violation of the Jones Act.


The M/V CALIFORNIA ROSE is a Norwegian-built, U.S.-owned vessel. The subject vessel is not documented as a U.S. vessel by the U.S. Coast Guard, however, the owner did receive a certificate of American ownership from the U.S. Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark, where the vessel was purchased in 1983.

It is proposed to have the subject vessel towed from its current location at a shipyard in Long Beach, California, to a location approximately 500 yards offshore from the corner of Sunset Boulevard and the Pacific Coast Highway where it will be anchored for the purpose of shooting off fireworks from its deck. These fireworks displays will be launched on July 4, 1989, as well as several other evenings during the months of June, July and August. Pacific Bay Marine Shipyard in Long Beach, California, plans to construct temporary wood and sand boxes for the vessel's deck for the fireworks which will be removed at the end of the summer. The pyrotechnic experts involved (i.e., Zambelli International) in the actual operation of the fireworks displays will be transported by a private launch out of Marina Del Ray, California, to the subject vessel and return that evening after the displays are over.

We note, however, that subsequent to our receipt of the above information, we were informed that contrary to the impression given by the owner of the M/V CALIFORNIA ROSE (i.e., that this venture was nothing more than an invitation to use this vessel for which no compensation would be received) these fireworks displays were the object of a competitive bidding process ultimately resulting in the awarding of a contract by Gladstones Restaurant which is seeking to use these displays as a source of advertisement. Furthermore, one of the competitive bidders for the contract is the owner of a U.S.-built, owned and documented (i.e., coastwise-qualified) barge.

Based on the above conflicting information, and our lack of knowledge as to how the individuals concerned (crew and passengers, as well as pyrotechnicians) and the materials used (e.g., fireworks, supporting structures, and the like) will be transported, we issued ruling VES-3-06-CO:R:P:C 110229 GV, dated June 14, 1989, denying the prospective use of the subject vessel. However, the owner of said vessel requested that Customs reconsider the above ruling on the premise that the information upon which it was based was inadequate, incomplete, or inaccurate as well as conflicting. In view of this allegation we will reconsider this matter in light of the following information. The competitive bidding in question does not involve the use of a vessel but rather the construction of temporary bases for the firing of the fireworks and for the towing of vessels from Long Beach to Santa Monica Bay. In September when the vessel is returned to the shipyard (Pacific Bay Marine) in Long Beach the firing pads and generator used for lighting will be removed. The subject vessel will be towed to its anchorage by a coastwise qualified tug (the MULTINOMA) and will carry neither passengers nor merchandise of any kind. On the nights when the fireworks will be shot off the pyrotechnicians will be ferried to the anchored vessel by a coastwise-qualified vessel bringing the fireworks with them and will return with any live fireworks to Marina Del Rey, the point of original boarding/lading.


Whether a foreign-built vessel, towed by a coastwise qualified tug to an anchorage within U.S. territorial waters, may be used for the purpose of shooting off fireworks without violating 46 U.S.C. App. 883 when the fireworks and accompanying pyrotechnicians are transported to it by a coastwise-qualified vessel.


Title 46, United States Code Appendix, 883 (46 U.S.C. App. 883), often called the "Jones Act", provides in part, that no 3
merchandise shall be transported between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws, either directly or via a foreign port, or for any part of the transportation, in any vessel other than a vessel built in and documented under the laws of the United States and owned by persons who are citizens of the United States (i.e., a coastwise-qualified vessel). Pursuant to 19 U.S.C. 1401(c), the word "merchandise" means goods, wares and chattels of every description and includes merchandise the importation of which is prohibited. Furthermore, Public Law 100- 239 (102 Stat. 588) amended 883 to apply to the transportation of "valueless material..."

Pursuant to 4.80b, Customs Regulations (19 CFR 4.80b) a coastwise transportation of merchandise takes place, within the meaning of the coastwise laws, when merchandise laden at a point embraced within the coastwise laws ("coastwise point") is unladen at another coastwise point, regardless of the origin or ultimate destination of the merchandise.

Points embraced within the coastwise laws discussed above include all points within the territorial waters of the United States, including points within a harbor, as well as artificial islands, installations, and devices permanently or temporarily attached to the seabed of the outer continental shelf for the purpose of exploring for, developing or producing resources therefrom. The territorial waters of the United States consist of the territorial sea, defined as the belt, 3 nautical miles wide, adjacent to the coast of the United States and seaward of the territorial sea baseline.

In regard to the facts presented, it is apparent that while the M/V CALIFORNIA ROSE may be a point of lading and unlading for merchandise at its anchorage, the vessel itself will not be used to transport merchandise between coastwise points. Accordingly, its sole use as a stationary deck upon which fireworks will be launched does not constitute a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. 883.

We reiterate that any vessel used to transport the fireworks, related paraphernalia, and pyrotechnicians to and from the M/V CALIFORNIA ROSE must be coastwise-qualified in accordance with 883 as well as 46 U.S.C. App. 289 (the passenger coastwise law). Furthermore, in regard to towing within territorial waters, the Customs Service has interpreted the towing statute (46 U.S.C. App. 316(a)) consistently with its interpretation of 883. Accordingly, a non-coastwise-qualified vessel is prohibited from towing any vessel, other than a vessel in distress, between coastwise points.


A foreign-built vessel, towed by a coastwise-qualified tug to an anchorage within U.S. territorial waters may be used for the purpose of shooting off fireworks without constituting a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. 883, when the fireworks and accompanying pyrotechnicians are transported to it by a coastwise-qualified vessel.


B. James Fritz

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