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10 U.S. Code § 8120 - Expiration: rights of member

The senior officer present afloat in foreign waters shall send to the United States by Government or other transportation as soon as possible each enlisted member of the naval service who is serving on a naval vessel, whose term of enlistment has expired, and who desires to return to the United States. However, when the senior officer present afloat considers it essential to the public interest, he may retain such a member on active duty until the vessel returns to the United States.
(b) Each member retained under this section—
shall be discharged not later than 30 days after his arrival in the United States; and
except in time of war is entitled to an increase in basic pay of 25 percent.
The substance of this section shall be included in the enlistment contract of each person enlisting in the naval service.
(Aug. 10, 1956, ch. 1041, 70A Stat. 320, § 5540; renumbered § 8120, Pub. L. 115–232, div. A, title VIII, § 807(b)(3), Aug. 13, 2018, 132 Stat. 1834.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Revised section

Source (U.S. Code)

Source (Statutes at Large)


34 U.S.C. 201.

R.S. 1422; Mar. 3, 1875, ch. 155, 18 Stat. 484.

34 U.S.C. 201a.

Aug. 18, 1941, ch. 364, § 4, 55 Stat. 630.

34 U.S.C. 201b.

Dec. 13, 1941, ch. 570, § 2, 55 Stat. 799.

In subsection (a) the words “the senior officer present afloat” are substituted for the words “the commanding officer of any fleet, squadron, or vessel acting singly” to modernize the terminology. At the time of the enactment of the Revised Statutes the word “squadron” meant an organization of any number of vessels more than one, so that all cases were covered by R.S. 1422. The concept of “senior officer present afloat”, today, covers as nearly as possible the current equivalent of the concept in the original section. The words “in foreign waters” are inserted to conform to the interpretation of the Supreme Court in Wilkes v. Dinsman, 7 How. 89 (1849). The words “on service” are omitted, as they have no current ascertainable meaning. The words “by Government or other transportation” are substituted for the words “in some public or other vessel”, since this provision is interpreted as directing transportation by either ship or aircraft. The words “to the United States” are substituted for the words “to an Atlantic or to a Pacific port of the United States, as their enlistment may have occurred on either the Atlantic or Pacific coast, of the United States” because aircraft now land at inland airports as well as coastal airports and the duty to return an enlisted member to the United States under this provision is considered complete upon the member’s arrival in the United States. The extensive transportation system in the United States presently obviates the necessity of returning a member to a particular area. Furthermore, under 37 U.S.C. 253, the Government bears the cost of transporting the discharged member to his home or to the place from which he was called to active duty. The words “enlisted member of the naval service” are substituted for the words “all petty officers and persons of inferior ratings” in accordance with present terminology. Members of the Marine Corps are included because of interpretations of the Comptroller General, in construing the language of the statute. (14 Comp. Gen. 807, 808, May 1, 1935.) The reference to persons enlisted without the limits of the United States is omitted as unnecessary, since return to the United States is optional with the member and the basic rule applies irrespective of place of enlistment. The language requiring that persons who are detained or sent home be subject to the laws and regulations for the Government of the Navy is omitted as unnecessary in view of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The provision referring to reentry to serve until the vessel returns to the United States is omitted because no law authorizes entry or reentry into the service for this restricted purpose.

In subsection (b) the words “an increase in basic pay of 25 percent” are substituted for the words “an addition of one-fourth of their former pay” in conformity with the Career Compensation Act of 1949. 34 U.S.C. 201b permanently suspended the detention pay increase in time of war and this effect is expressed in subsection (b)(2) by the words “except in time of war”. 34 U.S.C. 201a, declaring that the pay addition authorized by this section does not apply to enlistments extended under other provisions of law, is omitted as unnecessary, since the increased pay provision is specifically limited to detentions under this section.

In subsection (c) the term “enlistment contract” is substituted for the term “shipping-articles” to conform to present terminology.

Editorial Notes

2018—Pub. L. 115–232 renumbered section 5540 of this title as this section.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Effective Date of 2018 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 115–232 effective Feb. 1, 2019, with provision for the coordination of amendments and special rule for certain redesignations, see section 800 of Pub. L. 115–232, set out as a note preceding section 3001 of this title.