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§ 835. Restrictions on transfer of shipping facilities during war or national emergency

When the United States is at war or during any national emergency, the existence of which is declared by proclamation of the President, it shall be unlawful, without first obtaining the approval of the Secretary of Transportation:
(a) To transfer to or place under any foreign registry or flag any vessel owned in whole or in part by any person a citizen of the United States or by a corporation organized under the laws of the United States, or of any State, Territory, District, or possession thereof; or
(b) To sell, mortgage, lease, charter, deliver, or in any manner transfer, or agree to sell, mortgage, lease, charter, deliver, or in any manner transfer, to any person not a citizen of the United States,
(1) any such vessel or any interest therein, or
(2) any vessel documented under the laws of the United States, or any interest therein, or
(3) any shipyard, dry dock, shipbuilding or ship-repairing plant or facilities, or any interest therein; or
(c) To issue, transfer, or assign a bond, note, or other evidence of indebtedness which is secured by a mortgage of a vessel to a trustee or by an assignment to a trustee of the owner’s right, title, or interest in a vessel under construction, or by a mortgage to a trustee on a shipyard, drydock, or shipbuilding or ship-repairing plant or facilities, to a person not a citizen of the United States, unless the trustee or a substitute trustee of such mortgage or assignment is approved by the Secretary of Transportation: Provided, however, That the Secretary of Transportation shall grant his approval if such trustee or a substitute trustee is a bank or trust company which
(1) is organized as a corporation, and is doing business, under the laws of the United States or any State thereof,
(2) is authorized under such laws to exercise corporate trust powers,
(3) is a citizen of the United States,
(4) is subject to supervision or examination by Federal or State authority, and
(5) has a combined capital and surplus (as set forth in its most recent published report of condition) of at least $3,000,000; or for the trustee or substitute trustee approved by the Secretary of Transportation to operate said vessel under the mortgage or assignment: Provided further, That if such trustee or a substitute trustee at any time ceases to meet the foregoing qualifications, the Secretary of Transportation, shall disapprove such trustee or substitute trustee, and after such disapproval the transfer or assignment of such bond, note, or other evidence of indebtedness to a person not a citizen of the United States, without the approval of the Secretary of Transportation, shall be unlawful; or
(d) To enter into any contract agreement, or understanding to construct a vessel within the United States for or to be delivered to any person not a citizen of the United States, without expressly stipulating that such construction shall not begin until after the war or emergency proclaimed by the President has ended; or
(e) To make any agreement or effect any understanding whereby there is vested in or for the benefit of any person not a citizen of the United States, the controlling interest or a majority of the voting power in a corporation which is organized under the laws of the United States, or of any State, Territory, District, or possession thereof, and which owns any vessel, shipyard, drydock, or shipbuilding, or ship-repairing plant or facilities; or
(f) To cause or procure any vessel constructed in whole or in part within the United States, which has never cleared for any foreign port, to depart from a port of the United States before it has been documented under the laws of the United States.
Whoever violates, or attempts or conspires to violate, any of the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $5,000 or by imprisonment for not more than five years, or both.
If a bond, note, or other evidence of indebtedness which is secured by a mortgage of a vessel to a trustee or by an assignment to a trustee of the owner’s right, title, or interest in a vessel under construction, or by a mortgage to a trustee on a shipyard, drydock or ship-building or ship-repairing plant or facilities, is issued, transferred, or assigned to a person not a citizen of the United States in violation of subsection (c) of this section, the issuance, transfer or assignment shall be void.
Any vessel, shipyard, drydock, ship-building or ship-repairing plant or facilities, or interest therein, sold, mortgaged, leased, chartered, delivered, transferred, or documented, or agreed to be sold, mortgaged, leased, chartered, delivered, transferred, or documented, in violation of any of the provisions of this section, and any stocks, bonds, or other securities sold or transferred, or agreed to be sold or transferred, in violation of any of such provisions, or any vessel departing in violation of the provisions of subsection (e) [1] of this section, shall be forfeited to the United States.
Any such sale, mortgage, lease, charter, delivery, transfer, documentation, or agreement therefor shall be void, whether made within or without the United States, and any consideration paid therefor or deposited in connection therewith shall be recoverable at the suit of the person who has paid or deposited the same, or of his successors or assigns, after the tender of such vessel, shipyard, drydock, shipbuilding or ship-repairing plant or facilities, or interest therein, or of such stocks, bonds, or other securities, to the person entitled thereto, or after forfeiture thereof to the United States, unless the person to whom the consideration was paid, or in whose interest it was deposited, entered into the transaction in the honest belief that the person who paid or deposited such consideration was a citizen of the United States.


[1] See References in Text note below.

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