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HQ 112022

January 13, 1992

VES-3-02-CO:R:IT:C 112022 RAH


Mr. Wulf Marquard
Tall-Ship Friends
Meiendorfer Str. 74a
Hamburg 73

RE: Coastwise Trade; 46 U.S.C. App. 289; Passenger; Trainee

Dear Mr. Marquard:

This is in response to your letters of November 27 and December 27, 1991, requesting information concerning the vessel SEDOV.


In your letter you state that the soviet sail-training vessel SEDOV (the world's largest squarerigger under sail) intends to participate in the Columbus-Race 1992. The ship will carry 65 crew members and 160 trainees from different West European countries and from Russia. The trainees have a contract with your organization that requires them to work on board the vessel to learn traditional seamanship and basic navigation.

The duration of the practice on board the vessel is one to four weeks. One group of trainees will embark in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and debark in New York. The next group will embark in New York and disembark in Boston.


Whether trainees on a sail-training vessel constitute passengers for purposes of 46 U.S.C. App. 289.


The coastwise laws generally prohibit the transportation of passengers or merchandise between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws in any vessel other than a

United States built, owned, and documented vessel. 46 U.S.C. App. 289 (Supp. III 1985) & 46 U.S.C.A. 883 (West Supp. 1990). The coastwise laws generally apply to points in the territorial sea, defined as the belt, three nautical miles wide, seaward of the territorial sea baseline, and to points located in internal waters, landward of the territorial sea baseline, in cases where the baseline and the coastline differ.

The Customs Regulations define "passenger" for purposes of section 289 as "any person carried on a vessel who is not connected with the operation of such vessel, her navigation, ownership, or business." 19 C.F.R. 4.50(b)(1990). Members of the permanent crew of the SEDOV are not passengers under this definition. Moreover, the Customs Service has held that a person being trained or receiving instruction in the handling or navigation of a vessel, and whose presence on board the vessel is required in order to receive such training or instruction, is not a "passenger" within the coastwise laws. See Headquarters Ruling Letter 109850, dated December 27, 1988, and Headquarters Ruling Letter 109287, dated February 24, 1988. Accordingly, if the temporary crew is aboard the ship only for such training, then the transportation of these crew members would not be prohibited by the coastwise laws.

You also ask whether SEDOV is allowed to take on board American citizens as trainees. In that regard, there are no laws administered by Customs which prohibit a foreign-flag vessel from taking on board American citizens as trainees. However, please be aware that this letter addresses only those federal requirements that are administered by the U.S. Customs Service. While we are unaware of any other federal or state agency requirements that might pertain to the undertaking you describe, it is possible that such requirements exist.


Trainees on a sail-training vessel do not constitute passengers for purposes of 46 U.S.C. App. 289.


B. James Fritz

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