(a) Settlement authority. The Navy has the same authority to settle affirmative admiralty claims as it does claims against the Navy. The statute conferring this authorization is codified in 10 U.S.C. 7623, and is the reciprocal of 10 U.S.C. 7622 referred to in § 752.3.
(b) Scope.10 U.S.C. 7623 is a tort claims-settlement statute. It is not limited to affirmative claims arising out of collision, but embraces all instances of damage caused by a vessel or floating object to property of the United States under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Navy or for which the Department of the Navy has assumed an obligation to respond. Perhaps the most frequent instance is where a privately owned vessel damages a Navy pier or shore structure. To eliminate any issue of whether the damaging instrumentality was a vessel, the words “or floating object” were included.
(c) Statute of limitation. The United States is subject to a three-year statute of limitation when it asserts an affirmative claim for money damages grounded in tort. This limitation is subject to the usual exclusions, such as inability to prosecute due to war, unavailability of the “res” or defendant, and certain exemptions from legal process (28 U.S.C. 2415, 2416 ).
(d) Litigation.10 U.S.C. 7623 does not apply to any claim where suit is filed. If the Admiralty and Maritime Law Division is unable to effect settlement, the matter is referred to the Department of Justice for the filing of a complaint against the offending party. Thereafter, as in the case of adverse litigated claims, the Navy has no further authority to effect settlement.