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Historical and Revision Notes

Chapter 37 consolidates the laws that are applicable to vessels that transport oil or hazardous material in bulk as cargo or cargo residue.

The history of Federal authority to carry out a tank vessel safety program begins with the enactment of the so-called Tank Vessel Act of 1936 which, as amended, is presently codified in section 391a of title 46, United States Code. The 1936 Act remained essentially the same until it was amended by the Ports and Waterways Safety Act of 1972. The 1972 amendment contained more specific standards for the protection of a tank vessel and its crew and added vessel standards to improve the quality of the marine environment. After a rash of tank vessel accidents during the latter part of 1976 and early 1977 within our territorial seas and in nearby coastal waters, there was an outpouring of public attention to the need to protect United States ports and waterways, for the safety of tank vessels, and for the protection of the marine environment. This led to the enactment of the Port and Tanker Safety Act of 1978, which provided broader and more extensive regulatory authority over areas already regulated and over many areas not previously regulated. It provided for improvements in the supervision and control of vessels of all types operating in the navigable waters of the United States, and in the safety of all tank vessels, foreign or domestic, that transport or transfer oil or hazardous cargoes in ports or places subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. The 1978 amendments also reflect, in part, certain tank vessel standards and requirements that have been accepted internationally, in particular those developed by the International Conference on Tanker Safety and Pollution Prevention held in London in February, 1978.

Editorial Notes

2006—Pub. L. 109–304, § 15(14), Oct. 6, 2006, 120 Stat. 1703, inserted “single hull” before “non-self-propelled” in item 3719.

1996—Pub. L. 104–324, title IX, § 901(c), Oct. 19, 1996, 110 Stat. 3947, added item 3719.

1990—Pub. L. 101–380, title IV, § 4115(c), Aug. 18, 1990, 104 Stat. 520, added item 3703a.