(a) General Authority.—On written application, the Secretary of Transportation may adjust obligations and arrange for maintenance of an essential vessel as provided in this chapter if the Secretary determines, after any investigation or proceeding the Secretary considers desirable, that—
(1) the operation of the vessel in the service, route, or line to which it is assigned under this subtitle, or in which it otherwise would be operated, is not—
lawful under the Neutrality Act of 1939 (22 U.S.C. 441 et seq.) or a proclamation issued under that Act; or
it is not feasible under existing law to employ the vessel in any other service or operation in foreign or domestic trade (except temporary or emergency operation under section 56503(b)(5) of this title); and
the applicant, because of the restrictions of the Neutrality Act of 1939 (22 U.S.C. 441 et seq.) or the withdrawal of vessels for national defense under paragraph (1), is not earning or will not earn a reasonable return on the capital necessarily employed in its business.
(b) Effective Period.—
Adjustments and arrangements under subsection (a) shall continue in effect only as long as the circumstances described in subsection (a) continue to exist.
(Pub. L. 109–304, § 8(c), Oct. 6, 2006, 120 Stat. 1657.)