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HQ 110322

September 29, 1989

VES-3-CO:R:P:C 110322 LLB


Captain W.A. Bisso, III
President, Bisso Marine Company, Inc.
Post Office Box 4113
New Orleans, Louisiana 70178

RE: The use of a foreign-flag self-propelled derrick ship for heavy lift operations in U.S. waters.

Dear Captain Bisso:

Reference is made to your letter of June 22, 1989, in which you ask that we rule upon the use of a non-coastwise qualified derrick ship to engage in heavy lift operations in the United States.


It is stated that the self-propelled derrick ship TAKLIFT 6, registered in Holland, is working in U.S. harbors. The vessel is of the "shearleg" boom variety, which means that the boom does not rotate on its base when engaged in lift/transfer operations. Rather, the lift boom is hinged at its base and the boom is raised and lowered via pulleys and cables. Lateral movement of loads must be accomplished by maneuvering either the vessel or the receiving point.


Whether foreign-registered derrick vessels may be employed within the area embraced by the coastwise laws, to engage in lifting operations which may require that the lifting vessel be moved during use.


Title 46, United States Code App., section 883 (46 U.S.C. App. 883), provides, in pertinent part, that no merchandise shall be transported between points 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. 2

We have long held that "points embraced within the coastwise laws" includes points within a harbor. Further, there is no rule applied by Customs which would permit any minimal degree of movement so as to create the fiction of non-transportation.

Accordingly, so long as loads are moved or transferred via the purposeful shifting of the lifting vessel, any lifting operations undertaken at U.S. points by non-coastwise-qualified derrick vessels are performed contrary to the provisions of section 883.


Non-coastwise-qualified vessels may not be used to lift and transfer materials at U.S. points, when such transfer is accomplished by shifting the lifting vessel's position, even to a minor degree.


B. James Fritz

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