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§ 808. Registration, enrollment, and licensing of vessels purchased, chartered, or leased; unlawful transactions; penalties

(a) Repealed. Pub. L. 101–225, title III, § 307(3), Dec. 12, 1989, 103 Stat. 1925
(b) Necessity of registration, etc., for operation; laws, regulations, and liabilities applicable
Every vessel purchased, chartered, or leased from the Secretary of Transportation shall, unless otherwise authorized by the Secretary of Transportation, be operated only under such registry or enrollment and license. Such vessels while employed solely as merchant vessels shall be subject to all laws, regulations, and liabilities governing merchant vessels, whether the United States be interested therein as owner, in whole or in part, or hold any mortgage, lien, or other interest therein.
(c) Sale, lease, etc., to foreign persons; foreign registry or operation
Except as provided in section 1181 of this Appendix and in section 12106 (e) of title 46, a person may not, without the approval of the Secretary of Transportation—
(1) sell, lease, charter, deliver, or in any manner transfer, or agree to sell, lease, charter, deliver, or in any manner transfer, to a person not a citizen of the United States, any interest in or control of a documented vessel (except in a vessel that has been operated only as a fishing vessel, fish processing vessel, or fish tender vessel (as defined in section 2101 of title 46) or in a vessel that has been operated only for pleasure) owned by a citizen of the United States or the last documentation of which was under the laws of the United States; or
(2) place a documented vessel, or a vessel the last documentation of which was under the laws of the United States, under foreign registry or operate that vessel under the authority of a foreign country.
(d) Validity of unlawful charter, sale, etc.; penalties
(1) Any charter, sale, or transfer of a vessel, or interest in or control of that vessel, contrary to this section is void.
(2) A person that knowingly charters, sells, or transfers a vessel, or interest in or control of that vessel, contrary to this section shall be fined under title 18, imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both.
(3) A documented vessel may be seized by, and forfeited to, the United States Government if—
(A) the vessel is placed under foreign registry or operated under the authority of a foreign country contrary to this section; or
(B) a person knowingly charters, sells, or transfers a vessel, or interest or control in that vessel, contrary to this section.
(4) A person that charters, sells, or transfers a vessel, or an interest in or control of a vessel, in violation of this section is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of not more than $10,000 for each violation.
(e) Placement in foreign registry without approval of Secretary
Notwithstanding subsection (c)(2) of this section, the Merchant Marine Act, 1936 [46 App. U.S.C. 1101 et seq.], or any contract entered into with the Secretary of Transportation under that Act, a vessel may be placed under a foreign registry, without approval of the Secretary, if—
(1)
(A) the Secretary, in conjunction with the Secretary of Defense, determines that at least one replacement vessel of equal or greater military capability and of a capacity that is equivalent or greater, as measured by deadweight tons, gross tons, or container equivalent units, as appropriate, is documented under chapter 121 of title 46 by the owner of the vessel placed under the foreign registry; and
(B) the replacement vessel is not more than 10 years of age on the date of that documentation; or
(2) an operating agreement covering the vessel under chapter 531 of title 46 has expired.
(f) Approval of certain vessel transactions before documentation of vessel
To promote financing with respect to a vessel to be documented under chapter 121 of title 46, the Secretary may grant approval under subsection (c) of this section before the date the vessel is documented.

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