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HQ 110350

August 24, 1989

VES-2/VES-3-24-CO:R:P:C 110350 RAH


Mr. Christopher Cummins
Operations Manager
Fritz Maritime Agencies
3601 N.W. Yeon Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97210

RE: 46 U.S.C. 883

Dear Mr. Cummins:

This is in response to your letter of July 10, 1989, requesting exemption from Title 46, United States Code, section 883.


In your letter, you state that the Norwegian-flag vessel, the NOMADIC SAILOR, will discharge a cargo of cement in Los Angeles, California, and proceed to Portland, Oregon, to load wheat to be taken to the Philippines. You request exemption from the above statute so that you may purchase a high pressure water pump in Los Angeles to clean the cargo holds while enroute to Portland, and to land the pump in Portland after the cleaning is completed.


Under what circumstances will a waiver of the coastwise laws be granted?


Title 46, United States Code, section 883, provides in pertinent part that, "no merchandise shall be transported ... 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 the laws of the United States..."

Additionally, Title 19, Code of Federal Regulations, section 4.80b(a) states in part: "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."

The coastwise laws including 46 U.S.C. 883 can only be waived under the authority provided by the Act of December 27, 1950 (64 Stat. 1120; note preceding 46 U.S.C. App. 1). This statute provides that "[t]he head of each department or agency responsible for the administration of the navigation and vessel inspection laws is directed to waive compliance with such laws upon the request of the Secretary of Defense [and] [t]he head of such department or agency is authorized to waive compliance with such laws... either upon his own initiative or upon the written recommendation of the head of any Government agency whenever he deems that such action is in the interest of national defense."

This is not the type of case which qualifies for a waiver of the coastwise laws and therefore, your request is denied.


The coastwise laws prohibit the transportation of merchandise between points in the United States in a foreign-flag vessel, and such laws can only be waived in the interest of national defense.

If you have any further questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office.


B. James Fritz

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