33 CFR 245.45 - Abandonment.
(a) Establishing abandonment. Abandonment is the surrendering of all rights to a vessel (or similar obstruction) and its cargo by the owner, or owners if vessel and cargo are separately owned. In all cases other than emergency, abandonment will be established as a precondition to Corps removal, to avoid a “taking” of private property for public purposes. Abandonment is established by either:
(1) Affirmative action on the part of the owner declaring intention to abandon, or
(2) Failure to commence immediate removal of the obstruction and prosecute such removal diligently.
(b) Owner declaration. The Corps of Engineers will not “accept” a notice of abandonment. Any notice of abandonment received by the Corps of Engineers will be acknowledged only, and will stand by itself as a declaration. Abandonment by the operator or lessee alone does not constitute abandonment.
(c) Non-diligence. The determination of whether removal is commenced immediately and prosecuted diligently will be made by the District Engineer based on the degree of hazard to navigation, the difficulty and complexity of the removal operation, and the appropriateness of the removal effort. When no removal actions are being undertaken and the District Engineer is unable to identify the owner through investigation or 30 days of public notice, abandonment is presumed.
(e) Later claims. After abandonment is established, the owner may no longer undertake removal or make any claim upon the vessel (or other obstruction) or its cargo, unless expressly permitted by the District Engineer.
(f) Continuing owner liability. The abandonment of a wreck or other obstruction does not remove the owner's liability for the cost of removal and disposal if removal is undertaken by the Corps of Engineers, except in cases of nonnegligent sinking which occurred prior to November 17, 1986.