46 CFR § 296.20 - Tank vessels.
(b) First priority for the award of MSP Operating Agreements under the MSA 2003 may be granted to a tank vessel that is less than ten years of age on the date it enters an MSP Operating Agreement:
(1) Provided: (i) That the Contractor agrees to execute a binding agreement approved by the Secretary for a replacement vessel to be operated under the MSP Operating Agreement and to be built in the United States not later than nine months after the first date appropriated funds are available for construction and operating assistance for a minimum of three tank vessels;
(2) No payment can be made for an existing tank vessel granted priority one status after the earlier of:
(i) Four years following the date this MSP Operating Agreement is effective, except if amounts are available for construction of a minimum of three tank vessels under the National Defense Tank Vessel Construction Assistance Program (NDTVCP) by October 1, 2007, then no payments shall be made for the existing “tank vessel” after four years following the date such amounts are available; or
(3) The Secretary will not enter into more than five MSP Operating Agreements for tank vessels under this priority. If the five tank vessel MSP Operating Agreement slots are not fully subscribed, the Secretary, in consultation with the SecDef, may award the non-subscribed slots to lower priority vessels, if deemed appropriate. If the Secretary determines that no funds are, or are likely to be, allocated for any tank vessel construction in the United States, the five slots may nevertheless be awarded to existing tank vessels or the slots may be awarded permanently to any eligible vessels. The Secretary may temporarily award a slot reserved for a tank vessel under construction to a lower priority vessel during the construction period of that vessel if an existing tank vessel offered by the tank vessel Contractor is not eligible for priority for that slot. If no existing tank vessel is offered by the tank vessel Contractor, the Secretary may temporarily award an MSP Operating Agreement to any eligible vessel of another Contractor until a new tank vessel's construction is completed in the United States. Such temporary MSP Operating Agreements may be terminated under terms set forth in the temporary MSP Operating Agreement.