18 U.S. Code § 2285 - Operation of submersible vessel or semi-submersible vessel without nationality
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Operation of submersible vessel or semi-submersible vessel without nationality
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.—
For purposes of subsection (a), the presence of any of the indicia described in paragraph (1)(A), (E), (F), or (G), or in paragraph (4), (5), or (6), of section 70507(b) of title 46 may be considered, in the totality of the circumstances, to be prima facie evidence of intent to evade detection.
There is extraterritorial Federal jurisdiction over an offense under this section, including an attempt or conspiracy to commit such an offense.
(d)Claim of Nationality or Registry.—A claim of nationality or registry under this section includes only—
possession on board the vessel and production of documents evidencing the vessel’s nationality as provided in article 5 of the 1958 Convention on the High Seas;
(e) Affirmative Defenses.—
(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—
a vessel of the United States or lawfully registered in a foreign nation as claimed by the master or individual in charge of the vessel when requested to make a claim by an officer of the United States authorized to enforce applicable provisions of United States law;
lawfully operated in government-regulated or licensed activity, including commerce, research, or exploration; or
(2)Production of documents.—The affirmative defenses provided by this subsection are proved conclusively by the production of—
government documents evidencing the vessel’s nationality at the time of the offense, as provided in article 5 of the 1958 Convention on the High Seas;
a certificate of classification issued by the vessel’s classification society upon completion of relevant classification surveys and valid at the time of the offense; or
(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.—
In this section, the terms “submersible vessel”, “semi-submersible vessel”, “vessel of the United States”, and “vessel without nationality” have the meaning given those terms in section 70502 of title 46.
Findings and Declarations
“Congress finds and declares that operating or embarking in a submersible vessel or semi-submersible vessel without nationality and on an international voyage is a serious international problem, facilitates transnational crime, including drug trafficking, and terrorism, and presents a specific threat to the safety of maritime navigation and the security of the United States.”
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