32 CFR 767.5 - Policy.
(a) As stewards of the DON's sunken military craft and terrestrial military craft, the NHHC is responsible for managing these irreplaceable resources for the continued education and appreciation of present and future generations. To ensure consistent and effective stewardship, the NHHC has developed a comprehensive program that encompasses the following aspects: Preservation planning; wrecksite management; archaeological research; conservation and curation; and public information, interpretation, and education. The NHHC strongly encourages cooperation with other Department of Defense commands, Federal and State agencies, educational institutions, and individuals interested in preserving DON's maritime and aviation heritage.
(b) Subject to operational requirements, sunken military craft and terrestrial military craft will generally be managed in place unless wrecksite disturbance, recovery, or injury is justified and necessary to protect the craft or the environment, to address matters pertaining to human remains or public safety, to mitigate adverse effects, to conduct research, or to provide for public education. While the NHHC prefers non-intrusive in situ research on sunken military craft and terrestrial military craft, it recognizes that wrecksite disturbance, removal, or injury may become necessary or appropriate. At such times, wrecksite disturbance, removal, or injury may be permitted by the NHHC with respect to DON sunken military craft for archaeological, historical, or educational purposes, subject to conditions set forth in accordance with these regulations. Historic shipwrecks under the jurisdiction of the DON that do not qualify as sunken military craft are to be provided the same consideration and treatment as terrestrial military craft.
(c) In addition to managing historic sunken military craft and terrestrial military craft, the NHHC will serve as the permitting authority for the disturbance of non-historic DON sunken military craft. Permit applications will only be issued in instances where there is a clear demonstrable benefit to the DON, and only special use permits can be issued in the case of non-historic sunken military craft. In such instances, prior to issuing a special use permit, the NHHC will consult with appropriate DON offices within affected commands or offices, including, but not limited to, the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Air Systems Command, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Naval Supply Systems Command, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Navy Personnel Command, Military Sealift Command, Supervisor of Salvage and Diving, Office of the Judge Advocate General of the Navy, the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, or other interested offices.
(d) The NHHC will serve as the permitting authority for disturbance of those foreign state sunken military craft located in U.S. waters addressed in § 767.15. The NHHC, in consultation with the Department of State as appropriate, will make a reasonable effort to inform the applicable agency of a foreign state of the discovery or significant changes to the condition of its sunken military craft upon becoming aware of such information. The NHHC will also serve as the permitting authority for disturbance of those sunken military craft of another military department, or the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating, that have been incorporated into the DON permitting program in accordance with § 767.15(e).
(e) The DON recognizes that, in accordance with section 1402(a)(3) of the Act and other statutes, certain federal agencies have statutory authority to conduct and permit specific activities directed at DON sunken military craft and terrestrial military craft. The NHHC will coordinate, consult, and enter into interagency agreements with those federal agencies to ensure effective management of DON sunken military craft and terrestrial military craft and compliance with applicable law.
(f) Where appropriate, the NHHC will coordinate, consult, and enter into agreements with the appropriate State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), or state land or resource manager, to ensure effective management of DON sunken military craft and terrestrial military craft and compliance with applicable law.
(g) Notwithstanding any other section of this part, no act by the owner of a vessel, or authorized agent of the owner of a vessel, under a time charter, voyage charter, or demise charter to the DON and operated on military service at the time of its sinking, provided that the sunken military craft is not considered historic as determined by the NHHC, shall be prohibited by, nor require a permit under, the SMCA or these regulations. This paragraph (g) shall not be construed to otherwise affect any right or remedy of the United States existing at law, in equity, or otherwise, in regard to any such sunken military craft, in regard to cargo owned by the United States on board or associated with any such craft, or in regard to other property or contents owned by the United States on board or associated with any such sunken military craft.
(h) The NHHC reserves the right to deny an applicant a permit if the proposed activity does not meet the permit application requirements; is inconsistent with DON policy or interests; does not serve the best interests of the sunken military craft or terrestrial military craft in question; in the case of foreign sunken military craft, is inconsistent with the desires of a foreign sovereign; is inconsistent with an existing resource management plan; is directed towards a sunken military craft or terrestrial military craft upon which other activities are being considered or have been authorized; will be undertaken in such a manner as will not permit the applicant to meet final report requirements; raises professional ethical conduct concerns or concerns over commercial exploitation; raises concerns over national security, foreign policy, environmental or ordnance issues; or out of respect for any human remains that may be associated with a wrecksite. The NHHC also reserves the right to deny an applicant a permit if the applicant has not fulfilled requirements of permits previously issued by the NHHC to the applicant.