Complaints of unfitness
If the chief and second mates or a majority of the crew of a vessel ready to begin a voyage discover, before the vessel leaves harbor, that the vessel is unfit as to crew, hull, equipment, tackle, machinery, apparel, furniture, provisions of food or water, or stores to proceed on the intended voyage and require the unfitness to be inquired into, the master immediately shall apply to the district court of the United States at the place at which the vessel is located, or, if no court is being held at the place at which the vessel is located, to a judge or justice of the peace, for the appointment of surveyors. At least 2 complaining seamen shall accompany the master to the judge or justice of the peace.
A master failing to comply with this subsection is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of $500.
Any 3 seamen of a vessel may complain that the provisions of food or water for the crew are, at any time, of bad quality, unfit for use, or deficient in quantity. The complaint may be made to the Secretary, commanding officer of a United States naval vessel, consular officer, or chief official of the Customs Service.
The Secretary, officer, or official shall examine, or have examined, the provisions of food or water. If the provisions are found to be of bad quality, unfit for use, or deficient in quantity, the person making the findings shall certify to the master of the vessel which provisions are of bad quality, unfit for use, or deficient.
(3) The Secretary, officer, or official to whom the complaint was made shall—
make an entry in the official logbook of the vessel on the results of the examination; and
submit a report on the examination to the district court of the United States at which the vessel is to arrive, with the report being admissible into evidence in any legal proceeding.
(4) The master is liable to the Government for a civil penalty of not more than $100 each time the master, on receiving the certification referred to in paragraph (2) of this subsection—
does not provide other proper provisions of food or water, when available, in place of the provisions certified as of bad quality or unfit for use;
does not obtain sufficient provisions when the certification includes a finding of a deficiency in quantity; or
uses provisions certified to be of bad quality or unfit for use.
Historical and Revision Notes
Section 10902 instructs the crew on making complaints of unfitness of vessel with regard to equipment and provisions, and instructs the master on responding to those complaints, and provides a penalty for violations.
1993—Subsec. (b)(1). Pub. L. 103–206, § 422(b)(1), inserted “Secretary,” after “The complaint may be made to the” and struck out “Coast Guard shipping commissioner,” after “consular officer,”.
Subsec. (b)(2), (3). Pub. L. 103–206, § 422(b)(2), substituted “The Secretary, officer,” for “The officer, commissioner,”.
Transfer of Functions
For transfer of functions, personnel, assets, and liabilities of the United States Customs Service of the Department of the Treasury, including functions of the Secretary of the Treasury relating thereto, to the Secretary of Homeland Security, and for treatment of related references, see sections 203(1), 551(d), 552(d), and 557 of Title 6, Domestic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan of November 25, 2002, as modified, set out as a note under section 542 of Title 6.
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