46 U.S. Code § 8302 - Staff department

(a) This section applies to a vessel of the United States except—
a fishing or whaling vessel or a yacht;
a vessel operated only on bays, sounds, inland waters, and lakes (except the Great Lakes); and
a vessel ferrying passengers and cars on the Great Lakes.
The staff department on a vessel is a separate and independent department. It consists of individuals registered under section 7101 of this title, clerks, and individuals assigned to the senior registered medical doctor.
The staff department is composed of a medical division and a purser’s division. The officer in charge of each division is responsible only to the master. The senior registered medical doctor is in charge of the medical division. The senior registered purser is in charge of the purser’s division.
The officer in charge of the purser’s division of the staff department on an oceangoing passenger vessel licensed to carry more than 100 passengers shall be a registered chief purser. When more than 3 individuals are employed in the purser’s division of that vessel, there also shall be at least one registered senior assistant purser and one registered junior assistant purser.
A person may not employ an individual to serve in, and an individual may not serve in, a grade of staff officer on a vessel, when that staff officer is required by this section to be registered, if the individual does not have a certificate of registry as staff officer in that grade. A person (including an individual) violating this subsection is liable to the United States Government for a civil penalty of $100. However, if a registered staff officer is not available at the time of sailing, the vessel may sail with an unregistered staff officer or without a staff officer.
A staff officer may not be included in a vessel’s certificate of inspection.
A registered staff officer serving under this section who is a member of the Navy Reserve may wear on the officer’s uniform special distinguishing insignia prescribed by the Secretary of the Navy.
The uniform stripes, decoration, or other insignia worn by a staff officer shall be of gold braid or woven gold or silver material. A crewmember (except a staff officer) may not wear any uniform with a staff officer’s identifying insignia.

Historical and Revision Notes

Revised section

Source section (U.S. Code)




8302(e), (f)






Section 8302 sets forth the organization and manning requirements of the staff department of a vessel. The staff department has medical and clerical responsibilities.

Subsection (a) applies this section to every United States vessel except a yacht, a fishing, whaling, or certain types of inland waterway vessel, and a ferry carrying passengers or cars on the Great Lakes. A ferry is a vessel that primarily carries passengers, cars, or trains from shore to shore as a means to connect existing points on a transportation route so that the same type of transportation mode may continue to be used upon arrival at either point. Vessels carrying cars as cargo would not be included in this type of vessel.

Subsection (b) establishes the staff department as a separate one consisting of registered individuals (pursers, medical doctors, and professional nurses), clerks, and medical assistants. Subsection (c) divides the department into a medical division and a purser’s division and designates the individual in charge of each division. Subsection (d) prescribes particular requirements of the purser’s division based on size of the vessel or number of individuals employed in the division.

Subsection (e) prohibits the employment or service of an individual who is not registered or of the grade as required under this section and prescribes a penalty for violation of the subsection. This penalty applies to both the employer and the individual employed. If a registered staff officer is unavailable at the time of departure for a voyage, the vessel may proceed on its voyage with either an unregistered staff officer or without a staff officer.

Subsection (f) prohibits including a staff officer on a vessel’s certificate of inspection.

Subsections (g) and (h) prescribe the type and restrictions for the uniform accouterments of a staff officer.

Editorial Notes

2021—Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 116–283 substituted “3 individuals” for “3 persons”.

2006—Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 109–163 substituted “Navy Reserve” for “Naval Reserve”.

1985—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 99–36 inserted a comma after “clerks”.

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