(a) Administrative authority of the Secretary of the Navy.
The Secretary of the Navy has administrative authority for settlement and direct payment where the amount paid does not exceed $15,000,000 and where the matter is not in litigation, of claims for damage caused by naval vessels or by other property under the jurisdiction of the Navy, or damage caused by a maritime tort committed by an agent or employee of the Navy, and for towage or salvage services rendered to naval vessels (10 U.S.C. 7622 ). The Secretary also has authority to settle affirmative admiralty claims for damage caused by a vessel or floating object to property under the jurisdiction of the Navy (10 U.S.C. 7623 ).
(b) Admiralty and Maritime Law Division of the Office of the Judge Advocate General.
The Navy's admiralty-tort claims are processed and adjudicated in the Admiralty and Maritime Law Division of the Office of the Judge Advocate General. All correspondence with the Admiralty and Maritime Law Division should be addressed to the Office of the Judge Advocate General (Code 11), 1322 Patterson Avenue SE, Suite 3000, Washington Navy Yard, DC 20374-5066.
(c) Mission and policy.
The primary mission of the Admiralty and Maritime Law Division is to effect prompt and equitable settlements of admiralty claims, both against and in favor of the United States. The settlement procedure has evolved to eliminate the expenses and delays arising out of litigation and to obtain results advantageous to the financial interests of the United States. Where settlements cannot be made, litigation ensues in the Federal Courts. The final test of whether a settlement is justified is the probable result of litigation. Settlements are therefore considered and determined by the probable results of litigation. The policy of the Navy is to effect fair and prompt settlements of admiralty claims wherever legal liability exists.
(d) Admiralty-tort claims.
As indicated above, the Admiralty and Maritime Law Division primarily handles admiralty-tort claims. These are claims for damage caused by vessels in the naval service or by other property under the jurisdiction of the Navy, or damage caused by a maritime tort committed by an agent or employee of the Navy, and claims for damage caused by a privately owned vessel to a vessel or property of the Navy (affirmative claims). The Admiralty and Maritime Law Division also handles claims for towage and salvage services rendered to a vessel in the naval service.
(e) Admiralty-contract claims.
Admiralty-contract claims arising out of the operations of the Military Sealift Command (MSC) are handled by its Office of Counsel. MSC is responsible for the procurement of vessels and space for the commercial ocean transportation of Department of Defense cargo, mail, and personnel. It is also responsible for the maintenance, repair, and alteration of Government-owned vessels assigned to it. The Office of Counsel, MSC, deals with the various claims of a contract nature which arise out of these operations. These include claims for cargo damage, charter hire, redelivery, general average, and claims arising under MSC ship-repair contracts.
(f) Damage caused by Navy contract stevedores.
Office of Counsel, Naval Supply Systems Command, has cognizance of admiralty claims for damage caused by Navy contract stevedores. Under these stevedore contracts, the stevedoring companies are responsible for negligent acts of their employees which result in vessel damage. It is important that the extent of any such damage be accurately determined and promptly reported to the contracting officer having cognizance of the particular stevedore contract involved.
(g) Resolving conflicts.
Admiralty-tort claims, such as collision, personal-injury, and death claims, are dealt with by the Admiralty and Maritime Law Division, irrespective of whether an MSC vessel or other naval vessel is involved. Whether any particular claim is to be handled by JAG or by MSC, therefore, is determined by the nature of the claim. Cases may arise which could be handled by either office. If doubt exists, such matters should be reported both to JAG and to MSC. An agreement will then be reached between the Admiralty and Maritime Law Division and the Office of Counsel, MSC, as to how the incident should be handled.
[39 FR 9962, Mar. 15, 1974, as amended at 55 FR 12173, Apr. 2, 1990; 65 FR 60861, 60862, Oct. 13, 2000; 69 FR 20542, Apr. 16, 2004; 72 FR 56268, Oct. 3, 2007]