46 U.S. Code § 3305 - Scope and standards of inspection

§ 3305.
Scope and standards of inspection
(1) The inspection process shall ensure that a vessel subject to inspection—
is of a structure suitable for the service in which it is to be employed;
is equipped with proper appliances for lifesaving, fire prevention, and firefighting;
has suitable accommodations for the crew, sailing school instructors, and sailing school students, and for passengers on the vessel if authorized to carry passengers;
has an adequate supply of potable water for drinking and washing by passengers and crew;
is in a condition to be operated with safety to life and property; and
complies with applicable marine safety laws and regulations.
(2) In determining the adequacy of the supply of potable water under paragraph (1)(D), the Secretary shall consider—
the size and type of vessel;
the number of passengers or crew on board;
the duration and routing of voyages; and
guidelines for potable water recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Public Health Service.
If an inspection, or examination under section 3308 of this title, reveals that a life preserver, lifesaving device, or firehose is defective and incapable of being repaired, the owner or master shall destroy the life preserver, lifesaving device, or firehose in the presence of the official conducting the inspection or examination.
A nautical school vessel operated by a civilian nautical school or by an educational institution under section 558 of title 40 shall be inspected like a small passenger vessel or a passenger vessel, depending on its tonnage.
(Pub. L. 98–89, Aug. 26, 1983, 97 Stat. 513; Pub. L. 99–36, § 1(a)(1), May 15, 1985, 99 Stat. 67; Pub. L. 99–640, § 13(e), Nov. 10, 1986, 100 Stat. 3551; Pub. L. 107–217, § 3(m)(2), Aug. 21, 2002, 116 Stat. 1302; Pub. L. 108–293, title IV, § 416, Aug. 9, 2004, 118 Stat. 1047; Pub. L. 109–241, title IX, § 901(f), July 11, 2006, 120 Stat. 564.)

Historical and Revision Notes

Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)














Section 3305 consolidates, at one place, the basic scope of coverage of the inspection process. It is to be noted that the time difference in enactment of various statutes has resulted in some anomalies. Thus, for example, R.S. 4417 (46 U.S.C. 391) which had originally set periods of inspection and vested authority in “local inspectors” was expanded over the years to provide the base for inspection of certain classes of vessels as well as setting out the periods and scope. The distillation of inspection objectives and standards in later laws and the transfer of all functions of separately created bureaus and functionaries to the Coast Guard permit this consolidation. There are those who have a desire to see the scope and standards of inspection be more specific in law similar to those presently applicable to boilers and boiler plating that predate 1871. The Committee believes this serves no useful purpose since the specifics are either antiquated or too limiting and have, in fact, been superceded by the statutorily authorized adoption of various industrial specifications, standards, and codes by the Coast Guard. These include the American Bureau of Shipping (ABS), American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), American National Standards Institute (ANSI), American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), American Welding Society (AWS), Underwriters Laboratories (UL), and many others. In addition, Coast Guard regulations must also implement and conform to the numerous international maritime safety treaties to which the United States is signatory. The Committee expects that the regulatory flexibility being provided will not reduce the present vessel inspection requirements that have been historically developed.

Section 3305(a) establishes the statutory scope of the Coast Guard’s vessel inspection authority and duty. The inspection process shall ensure that a vessel is of suitable structure, equipment, and accommodations, is maintained in an operating condition consistent with safety of life and property, and complies with applicable marine safety laws and regulations.

Subsection (b) requires that defective life preservers and firehose be destroyed in the presence of the inspecting official, normally a qualified Coast Guard marine inspector. The Committee believes that if this equipment is defective for use on an inspected vessel, it should be destroyed so that it cannot be used on an uninspected or recreational vessel.

Subsection (c) provides flexibility in the inspection of various sizes of nautical school vessels.


2006—Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 109–241 realigned margins.

2004—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 108–293, § 416(b), designated existing provisions as par. (1), redesignated former pars. (1) to (6) as subpars. (A) to (F), respectively, of par. (1), and added par. (2).

Subsec. (a)(4) to (6). Pub. L. 108–293, § 416(a), added par. (4) and redesignated former pars. (4) and (5) as (5) and (6), respectively.

2002—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 107–217 substituted “section 558 of title 40” for “section 13 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1986”.

1986—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 99–640 inserted “or by an educational institution under section 13 of the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 1986”.

1985—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 99–36 substituted “lifesaving” and “life preserver, lifesaving device, or firehose” for “life-saving” and “life preserver or firehose”, respectively.

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46 CFR - Shipping



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