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HQ 112675


August 25, 1993

VES-3-07 CO:R:IT:C 112675 JBW

CATEGORY: CARRIER

Mr. David B. Anderson
Anderson & Connell
1501 Eldridge Avenue
P. O. Box 1063
Bellingham, Washington 98227-1063

RE: Coastwise; Flat deck Barge; Helicopter Pad; 46 U.S.C. app. 883.

Dear Mr. Anderson:

This letter is in response to your request for a ruling on the application of the coastwise or other laws administered by the Customs Service to the use of a flat deck barge as a helicopter landing pad.

FACTS:

The vessel under consideration is a foreign-built and foreign- owned flat deck barge. The barge will be towed to a point in United States waters where it will be anchored and used as a helicopter landing pad. When the barge is towed, it will have a container of spare helicopter parts and helicopter lube oil and fuel. After completion of its use as a landing pad, the barge will be towed away with any remaining helicopter supplies.

ISSUE:

Whether the coastwise laws prohibit the use of a foreign- built and foreign-owned flat deck barge as a helicopter landing pad.

LAW AND ANALYSIS:

The coastwise laws of the United States prohibit the transportation of merchandise between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws 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. 46 U.S.C. app. 883 (referred to as the "Jones Act"). Generally, the coastwise laws apply to points within the territorial sea of the United States, 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. Headquarters Ruling Letter 111275, dated November 13, 1990.

The Customs Service has held that a non-coastwise-qualified vessel used as a moored facility within territorial and internal waters does not engage in the coastwise trade and does not violate the coastwise laws, or any other law administered by the Customs Service, provided that the vessel remains stationary. E.g., C.S.D. 89-107, 23 Cust. B. & Dec. 816 (1989). Thus, the use of an anchored flat deck barge for a helicopter landing pad does not violate the coastwise laws. The flat deck may not be moved with a helicopter or other merchandise placed on the barge in United States territorial or internal waters; however, such movement is permitted if it is required because of stress of weather or other reasons involving the safety of the vessel and provided that the vessel is returned to the point of landing or lading. Id.

For purposes of this ruling, we assume that the barge will be loaded with the helicopter supplies at and will be towed from a port or point outside of the United States. To load the helicopters supplies on the barge at one United States port or point and subsequently to use or load the supplies on the helicopters at another United States port or point is a lading and unlading of merchandise that is subject to the prohibition of the coastwise laws. 19 C.F.R. 4.80b(a) (1993). Further, the barge itself becomes a coastwise point while in use as a stationary landing pad in the territorial or internal waters of the United States. Any vessel moving merchandise or passengers between the stationary barge and another coastwise point must be documented for the coastwise trade. C.S.D. 89-107. Finally, United States law requires that a coastwise-qualified-vessel tow the landing barge between coastwise points. 46 U.S.C. app. 316(a).

HOLDING:

The use of an anchored flat deck barge for a helicopter landing pad does not violate the coastwise laws.

Sincerely,

Acting Chief

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