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HQ H017802





September 28, 2007

VES-3-02-OT:RR:BSTC:CCI H017802 LLB

CATEGORY: CARRIER

Mr. Francisco Plata
Barwil Unitor Ship Services
210 Edgewater Street
Staten Island, New York

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

Dear Mr. Plata:

This letter is in response to your correspondence of September 27, 2007, in which you inquire about the coastwise transportation of the individual mentioned therein aboard the M/V NYK COSMOS. Our decision follows.

FACTS

The voyage in question involves the transportation of the subject individual who is currently aboard the non-coastwise-qualified M/V NYK COSMOS (the "vessel") from New York, New York to Savannah, Georgia. The individual is inspecting the crew's compliance with safety requirements and auditing the vessel's accounting records. The inspection and audit will be completed on October 5, 2007, at which time the subject individual will disembark in Savannah.

ISSUE

Whether the individual described in the FACTS section above is a "passenger" within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b)

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. 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. § 551031 which provides:

(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- (1) is wholly owned by citizens of the United States for purposes of engaging in coastwise traffic; (2) 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.

The Customs and Border Protection ("CBP") Regulations, promulgated under the authority of 46 U.S.C. § 55103, provide:

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

19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b).

You state that the subject individual will be transported on the vessel for the purpose of conducting a vessel security inspection and accounting audit. 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 C.F.R. § 4.50(b), if they are required to be on board to contribute to the accomplishment of the operation of the vessel during the voyage or are on board because of a necessary vessel ownership or business interest during the voyage. HQ 101699 (Nov. 5, 1975); see also HQ 116721 (Sept. 25, 2006) quoting HQ 101699.

In the present case, to the extent the individual 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 itself, as would be the case under the facts herein submitted, such individual would not be considered a passenger.2

We find that such individual is not a "passenger" within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b). Accordingly, the coastwise transportation of such individual is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.3

HOLDING

The subject individual is not a "passenger" within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b). Therefore, the coastwise transportation of such individual is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.

Sincerely,

Glen E. Vereb
Chief

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