United States International Trade Commision Rulings And Harmonized Tariff Schedule
faqs.org  Rulings By Number  Rulings By Category  Tariff Numbers
faqs.org > Rulings and Tariffs Home > Rulings By Number > 2006 HQ Rulings > HQ 116610 - HQ 116747 > HQ 116697

Previous Ruling Next Ruling
HQ 116697





July 25, 2006
VES-3-RR:BSTC:CCI 116697 GOB

CATEGORY: CARRIER

James H. Roussel, Esq.
Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell & Berkowitz, PC 201 St. Charles Avenue
Suite 3600
New Orleans, LA 70170

RE: 46 U.S.C. App. §§ 883, 316(a); Coastwise Transportation; Crane Barge; Towing

Dear Mr. Roussel:

This letter is in reply to your submission of July 21, 2006 on behalf of American Bridge/Fluor Enterprises, Inc. a joint venture which is involved with the construction of the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. Our ruling on this matter is set forth below.

FACTS:

You describe the pertinent facts as follows:

Certain of the bridge sections are being manufactured in the People’s Republic of China and will be laden aboard Chinese vessels for carriage to the bridge site. It is contemplated that each vessel carrying the sections will anchor in the San Francisco Bay, as close as possible to the bridge site. The sections will be discharged from the carrying vessel, utilizing a non-coastwise qualified crane barge, to a non-coastwise qualified deck barge which will then be towed by a coastwise qualified tug for the final leg of the transportation of the sections to the bridge site. The sections will be installed on the falsework of the bridge by the non-coastwise qualified crane barge.

Under the proposed project, the bridge sections will not be finally discharged from the carrying vessels until such time as they are installed on the falsework of the bridge.

Based upon the above-described project, you request a ruling as to whether the following scenarios constitute a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. §883:

The non-coastwise qualified crane barge is utilized to discharge the bridge sections from the Chinese vessel by pivoting, but not moving laterally, to a non-coastwise qualified deck barge;

The non-coastwise qualified crane barge is utilized to discharge the bridge sections from the Chinese vessel by maneuvering, howsoever necessary, to a non-coastwise qualified deck barge;

The completion of the transportation of the bridge sections to the bridge site is accomplished by the non-coastwise qualified deck barge in tow of a coastwise qualified tug;

The lifting of the bridge sections from the deck barge on to the falsework of the bridge and the installation of the bridge sections is accomplished by the non-coastwise qualified crane barge by pivoting, but not moving laterally;

The lifting of the bridge sections from the deck barge on to the falsework of the bridge and the installation of the bridge sections is accomplished by the non-coastwise qualified crane barge by maneuvering, howsoever necessary; and

Domestic materials are delivered to the bridge site by a coastwise qualified tug and barge and are lifted from the barge on to the falsework of the bridge by the non-coastwise qualified crane barge by pivoting, but not moving laterally.

You also ask if the “answers to questions 1 – 5 above [would] be different if the deck barge on to which the sections are discharged and which is used to transport the bridge sections from the Chinese vessel to the bridge site is a coastwise qualified deck barge.”

ISSUE:

The applicability of the coastwise laws to the above-described activities and scenarios.

LAW AND ANALYSIS:

Generally, the coastwise laws prohibit the transportation of passengers or merchandise between points in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws in any vessel other than a vessel built in, documented under the laws of, and owned by citizens of the United States. A vessel that is built in, documented under the laws of, and owned by citizens of the United States, and which obtains a coastwise endorsement from the U.S. Coast Guard, is referred to as "coastwise-qualified."

The coastwise laws generally apply to points in the territorial sea, which is 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 this letter, we will use the term “territorial waters” to include internal waters and navigable waters of the U.S.

Title 46, United States Code Appendix, § 883 (46 U.S.C. App. § 883), the coastwise merchandise statute often called the “Jones Act”, provides in part that: "No merchandise . . . shall be transported . . . between points in the United States . . . 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 and owned by persons who are citizens of the United States . . ."

Section 4.80b(a), Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) Regulations (19 CFR § 4.80b(a)) provides, in pertinent 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.

Title 19, United States Code, § 1401(c) (19 U.S.C. § 1401(c)) defines “merchandise,” in pertinent part, as follows: “goods, wares, and chattels of every description...” Title 46, United States Code Appendix, § 883 provides that “the term ‘merchandise’ includes valueless material.”

Title 46, United States Code Appendix, § 316(a) (46 U.S.C. App. § 316(a)) prohibits the use of a non-coastwise-qualified vessel to tow any vessel, other than a vessel in distress, between ports or places in the United States embraced within the coastwise laws, either directly or by way of a foreign port, or to do any part of such towing, or to tow any such vessel between points in a harbor of the United States.

Both the crane barge and the deck barge are non-coastwise-qualified, with the exception of scenario six where the barge is said to be coastwise-qualified. The tug is coastwise-qualified.

In HQ 116111, dated January 30, 2004, we stated as follows:

CBP has long held that the use of a non-coastwise-qualified crane vessel to load and unload cargo or construct or dismantle a marine structure is not coastwise trade and does not violate the coastwise laws, provided, that any movement of merchandise is effected exclusively by the operation of the crane and not by movement of the vessel, except for necessary movement which is incidental to a lifting operation while it is taking place. Thus, such a crane barge could lift merchandise with its crane at one coastwise point, be pivoted while remaining in one location, and put down the merchandise at a place other than that from which it was lifted. The crane barge would be prohibited from lifting merchandise with its crane at one coastwise point, not remain stationary, and while the merchandise is suspended from the crane, placing the merchandise at a second coastwise point. (See, CBP ruling letters 106351, dated November 1, 1983; 108213, dated March 6, 1986; 115630 GEV, dated March 25, 2002; and 115940, dated April 17, 2003).

The facts posed in scenario one do not involve a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883 inasmuch as the non-coastwise-qualified crane barge will merely be pivoting; it will not be otherwise moving. See HQ 116111, excerpted above, and the rulings cited therein.

The facts posed in scenario two involve a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883 inasmuch as the non-coastwise-qualified crane barge will be “maneuvering, howsoever necessary . . .” This movement will exceed mere pivoting and will constitute transportation for the purpose of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883.

The facts posed in scenario three involve a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883 inasmuch as the non-coastwise-qualified deck barge will be transporting merchandise between two coastwise points.

The facts posed in scenario four do not involve a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883 inasmuch as the non-coastwise-qualified crane barge will merely be pivoting; it will not be otherwise moving. See HQ 116111, excerpted above, and the rulings cited therein.

The facts posed in scenario five involve a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883 inasmuch as the non-coastwise-qualified crane barge will be “maneuvering, howsoever necessary . . .” This movement will exceed mere pivoting and will constitute transportation for the purpose of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883.

The facts posed in scenario six do not involve a violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883 inasmuch as: the transportation of the domestic building materials will be accomplished by a coastwise-qualified barge; and the non-coastwise-qualified crane barge, which will lift the materials from the coastwise-qualified barge on to the falsework, will merely be pivoting; it will not be otherwise moving. See HQ 116111, excerpted above, and the rulings cited therein.

If the deck barge were coastwise-qualified, our response to scenario three would be different in that there would be no violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 883 because the transportation would be accomplished by a coastwise-qualified barge.

We note that there will be no violation of 46 U.S.C. App. § 316(a) inasmuch as all towing will be accomplished by a coastwise-qualified tug.

HOLDING:

Title 46, United States Code, section 883 applies to the proposed activities and scenarios as described in the Law and Analysis section of this ruling.

Sincerely,

Glen E. Vereb
Chief

Previous Ruling Next Ruling