Whoever knowingly operates, or attempts or conspires to operate, by any means, or embarks in any submersible vessel or semi-submersible vessel that is without nationality and that is navigating or has navigated into, through, or from waters beyond the outer limit of the territorial sea of a single country or a lateral limit of that country’s territorial sea with an adjacent country, with the intent to evade detection, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.
(b)Evidence of Intent To Evade Detection.—
(d)Claim of Nationality or Registry.—A claim of nationality or registry under this section includes only—
a verbal claim of nationality or registry by the master or individual in charge of the vessel.
(1)In general.—It is an affirmative defense to a prosecution for a violation of subsection (a), which the defendant has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence, that the submersible vessel or semi-submersible vessel involved was, at the time of the offense—
lawfully operated in government-regulated or licensed activity, including commerce, research, or exploration; or
equipped with and using an operable automatic identification system, vessel monitoring system, or long range identification and tracking system.
(2)Production of documents.—The affirmative defenses provided by this subsection are proved conclusively by the production of—
(f)Federal Activities Excepted.—
Nothing in this section applies to lawfully authorized activities carried out by or at the direction of the United States Government.
(g)Applicability of Other Provisions.—