10 U.S. Code § 7651 - Scope of chapter

§ 7651.
Scope of chapter
(a) This chapter applies to all captures of vessels as prize during war by authority of the United States or adopted and ratified by the President. However, this chapter does not affect the right of the Army or the Air Force, while engaged in hostilities, to capture wherever found and without prize procedure—
enemy property; or
neutral property used or transported in violation of the obligations of neutrals under international law.
(b) As used in this chapter—
“vessel” includes aircraft; and
“master” includes the pilot or other person in command of an aircraft.
Property seized or taken upon the inland waters of the United States by its naval forces is not maritime prize. All such property shall be delivered promptly to the proper officers of the courts.
Nothing in this chapter may be construed as contravening any treaty of the United States.
(Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 474.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Revised section

Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)


34 U.S.C. 1131 (less 1st proviso).

R.S. 4613 (less 1st proviso); June 24, 1941, ch. 232, 55 Stat. 261.

34 U.S.C. 1159 (as applicable to capture).

Aug. 18, 1942, ch. 553, § 1 (as applicable to capture), 56 Stat. 746; July 1, 1944, ch. 370, § 1, 58 Stat. 678; Nov. 14, 1945, ch. 472, § 1, 59 Stat. 581.


34 U.S.C. 1131 (1st proviso).

R.S. 4613 (1st proviso); June 24, 1941, ch. 232, 55 Stat. 261.

34 U.S.C. 1132.

R.S. 4614; June 24, 1941, ch. 232, 55 Stat. 261.


50 U.S.C. 214.

R.S. 5310.


34 U.S.C. 1158 (last sentence).

R.S. 4652 (last sentence).

In subsection (a) the words “including aircraft” are omitted as covered by subsection (b). The section is written to make the words “during war” applicable to the entire chapter. These words appear in 34 U.S.C. 1159, but not in 34 U.S.C. 1131. Prize is historically and uniformly treated as a war-time matter, so no substantive change results from the extension. The words “this chapter does not affect” are substituted for the words “nothing herein contained shall be construed as affecting, or in any way impairing”. The words “Air Force” are added under authority of § 305(a) of the National Security Act of 1947, as amended (5 U.S.C. 171

), to provide the same applicability as formerly provided by the word “Army”. The word “legal” is omitted as surplusage.

In subsection (b) the definition of the term “ship” is omitted as covered by the term “vessel”. All of 34 U.S.C. 1132 except that part which includes “aircraft” within the term “vessels” is omitted as unnecessary since the defined term “vessels of the Navy” does not appear in the provisions to which the definition is made applicable. The last sentence of 34 U.S.C. 1158 applies only to Title LIV (Prize) of the Revised Statutes. In subsection (d) it is broadened to cover the entire body of statutory prize law. Additions to the prize law made by the Act of August 18, 1942, ch. 553, 56 Stat. 746, as amended, operated only to extend the jurisdiction of courts of the United States to certain cases in which the prizes are not brought into the territorial waters of the United States. Relations of this country with other countries are not affected by the 1942 Act except when jurisdiction is exercised by American courts over prizes brought into cobelligerent ports. As that Act provides that the consent of the cobelligerent is necessary to the exercise of such jurisdiction, the rule against contravention of treaties is properly applied to it.


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