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HQ H003990

December 5, 2006

VES-3-02-RR:BSTC:CCI H003990 GOB


Brian G. Constable
Vice President and Chief Operating Officer APL Maritime, Ltd.
1111 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94607-5500

RE: Coastwise Transportation; 46 U.S.C. § 55103; 19 CFR § 4.50(b)

Dear Mr. Constable:

This letter is in response to your letter of November 29, 2006, with respect to the coastwise transportation of certain individuals, scheduled to commence on December 5, 2006. Our ruling is set forth below.


You request that two individuals be permitted to transit with the APL SINGAPORE from Los Angeles to Oakland on December 5, 2005. The individuals will install and test a main engine fuel/water emulsification unit aboard the vessel.

You state that:

The purpose of the installation is to reduce emissions and fuel consumption by emulsifying and injecting certain parts of water with fuel oil into the vessel’s main engine.

The equipment and process is highly specialized and the initial installation cannot be completed, monitored or adjusted unless [the] vessel is underway (due to service speeds and engine operating parameters). In addition, proper engineering and manufacturers guidance exceeding the experience range of the regular crew is required, necessitating the rider attendance.


Whether the individuals are “passengers” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 CFR § 4.50(b)?


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. Such a vessel, after it has obtained a coastwise endorsement from the U.S. Coast Guard, is said to be “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.

The coastwise law applicable to the carriage of passengers is found in 46 U.S.C. § 55103 (recodified by Pub. L. 109-304, enacted on October 6, 2006) and provides that:

(a) In General. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter or chapter 121 of this title, a vessel may not transport passengers between ports or places in the United States to which the coastwise laws apply, either directly or via a foreign port, unless the vessel-
is wholly owned by citizens of the United States for purposes of engaging in the coastwise traffic; and
has been issued a certificate of documentation with a coastwise endorsement under chapter 121 or is exempt from documentation but would otherwise be eligible for such a certificate and endorsement.

(b) Penalty. The penalty for violating subsection (a) is $300 for each passenger transported and landed.

Section 4.50(b), Customs Regulations (19 CFR § 4.50(b)) provides as follows:

A passenger within the meaning of this part is any person carried on a vessel who is not connected with the operation of such vessel, her navigation, ownership, or business.

You state that the subject individuals will be on the voyage in order to install and test a main engine fuel/water emulsification unit and that this work cannot be done unless the vessel is underway. In this context, and in accordance with previous Headquarters rulings, workmen, technicians, or observers transported by vessel between ports of the United States are not classified as “passengers” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 CFR § 4.50(b), if they are required to be on board to contribute to the accomplishment of the operation or navigation of the vessel during the voyage or are on board because of a necessary vessel ownership or business interest during the voyage. HQ 101699, of November 5, 1975; see also HQ 116721, of September 25, 2006, quoting HQ 101699.

Thus, in the present case, to the extent that the individuals would be engaged in any shipboard activities while traveling on the foreign vessel between coastwise ports, that would be “directly and substantially” related to the operation or business of the vessel itself, as would be the case under the facts herein submitted, such individuals would not be considered to be passengers (see HQ 116721, supra; and see HQ 116659, of May 19, 2006, referencing the “direct and substantial” test). See also, e.g., Customs telex 104712, of July 21, 1980, finding that repairmen were not passengers when carried aboard a foreign vessel between U.S. ports “for [the] purpose of repairing vessel en route between such ports."

Upon consideration of this matter, we find that the subject `individuals are not “passengers” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 CFR § 4.50(b). Therefore, the coastwise transportation of such individuals is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


The subject individuals are not “passengers” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 CFR § 4.50(b). Therefore, the coastwise transportation of such individuals is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.


Glen E. Vereb
Cargo Security, Carriers and Immigration Branch

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