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HQ H017833





September 28, 2007

VES-3-02-OT:RR:BSTC:CCI H017833 JLB

CATEGORY: CARRIER

Mr. Bradley Wyatt
Marine Agent
S5/Norton Lilly International
952 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Suite 100
Mount Pleasant, SC 29464

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

Dear Mr. Wyatt:

This letter is in response to your correspondence dated September 28, 2007, in which you request a ruling on whether the coastwise transportation of the individuals mentioned therein aboard the M/V ST LOUIS EXPRESS constitutes a violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103. Our ruling on your request follows.

FACTS

The voyage in question involves the transportation of the subject individuals aboard the non-coastwise-qualified M/V ST LOUIS EXPRESS (“the vessel”). The individuals will embark on September 29, 2007 at Charleston, South Carolina and will disembark at the port of Norfolk, Virginia on October 2, 2007. The cruise line’s agent has stated that the individuals will travel aboard the vessel to repair pipes in the engine room.

ISSUE

Whether the individuals described above would be “passengers” within the meaning of 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b)?

LAW AND ANALYSIS

The coastwise passenger statute, former 46 U.S.C. App. § 289 recodified as 46 U.S.C. § 55103, pursuant to P.L. 109-304 (October 6, 2006), states that no foreign vessel shall transport passengers “between ports or places in the United States to which the coastwise laws apply, either directly or by way of a foreign port,” under a penalty of $300 for each passenger so transported and landed. See also 19 C.F.R. § 4.80(b)(2). 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.

Under 46 U.S.C. § 55103, a “passenger” is any person carried aboard a vessel “who is not connected with the operation of the vessel, her navigation, ownership, or business.” See also 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b). In this regard, Customs Bulletin notice, dated June 5, 2002, provides a strict interpretation of “passenger” defining the term as persons transported on a vessel unless they are "directly and substantially" connected with the operation, navigation, ownership or business of that vessel itself. See Headquarters Decision 116659, dated May 19, 2006; see also Headquarters Decision H005913, dated January 26, 2007.

Pursuant to Headquarters Decision 101699, dated November 5, 1975, it is well settled that "workmen, technicians, or observers transported by vessel between ports of the United States are not classified as ‘passengers’ within the meaning of section 4.50(b) and section 289 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." See also Headquarters Decision 116752, dated November 3, 2006, quoting HQ 116721. In the present case, the individuals would be traveling aboard the non-coastwise-qualified vessel to repair pipes in the engine room. Under the facts presented, the individuals would be “directly and substantially” related to the operation of the vessel during the voyage and would not be considered “passengers” under 46 U.S.C. § 55103 and 19 C.F.R. § 4.50(b). Consequently, the coastwise transportation of the subject individuals is not in violation of 46 U.S.C. § 55103.

HOLDING

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

Sincerely,

Glen E. Vereb, Chief

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