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92nd Congress, S. 699
August 4, 1971

An Act

To require a radiotelephone on certain vessels while navigating upon specified waters of the United States.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may be cited as the "Vessel Bridge-to-Bridge Radiotelephone Act”.

SEC. 2. It is the purpose of this Act to provide a positive means whereby the operators of approaching vessels can communicate their intentions to one another through voice radio, located convenient to the operator's navigation station. To effectively accomplish this, there is need for a specific frequency or frequencies dedicated to the exchange of navigational information, on navigable waters of the United States. SEC. 3. For the purpose of this Act

(1) "Secretary" means the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating;

(2) "power-driven vessel" means any vessel propelled by machinery; and

(3) "towing vessel" means any commercial vessel engaged in towing another vessel astern, alongside, or by pushing ahead. SEC. 4. (a) Except as provided in section 7 of this Act

(1) every power-driven vessel of three hundred gross tons and upward while navigating;

(2) every vessel of one hundred gross tons and upward carrying one or more passengers for hire while navigating;

(3) every towing vessel of twenty-six feet or over in length while navigating; and

(4) every dredge and floating plant engaged in or near a channel or fairway in operations likely to restrict or affect navigation of other vessels

shall have a radiotelephone capable of operation from its navigational bridge or, in the case of a dredge, from its main control station and capable of transmitting and receiving on the frequency or frequencies within the 156-162 Mega-Hertz band using the classes of emissions designated by the Federal Communications Commission, after consultation with other cognizant agencies, for the exchange of navigational information.

(b) The radiotelephone required by subsection (a) shall be carried on board the described vessels, dredges, and floating plants upon the navigable waters of the United States inside the lines established pursuant to section 2 of the Act of February 19, 1895 (28 Stat. 672), as amended.

SEC. 5. The radiotelephone required by this Act is for the exclusive use of the master or person in charge of the vessel, or the person designated by the master or person in charge to pilot or direct the movement of the vessel, who shall maintain a listening watch on the designated frequency. Nothing contained herein shall be interpreted as precluding the use of portable radiotelephone equipment to satisfy the requirements of this Act.

Vessel Bridgeto-Bridge




85 STAT. 164 85 STAT. 165

33 USC 151.

Use, restriction.


SEC. 6. Whenever radiotelephone capability is required by this Act, Equipment, a vessel's radiotelephone equipment shall be maintained in effective operating condition. If the radiotelephone equipment carried aboard a vessel ceases to operate, the master shall exercise due diligence to restore it or cause it to be restored to effective operating condition at the earliest practicable time. The failure of a vessel's radiotelephone equipment shall not, in itself, constitute a violation of this Act, nor

85 STAT. 165




Effective date.

shall it obligate the master of any vessel to moor or anchor his vessel; however, the loss of radiotelephone capability shall be given consideration in the navigation of the vessel.

SEC. 7. The Secretary may, if he considers that marine navigational safety will not be adversely affected or where a local communication system fully complies with the intent of this concept but does not conform in detail, issue exemptions from any provisions of this Act, on such terms and conditions as he considers appropriate.

SEC. 8. (a) The Federal Communications Commission shall, after consultation with other cognizant agencies, prescribe regulations necessary to specify operating and technical conditions and characteristics including frequencies, emission, and power of radiotelephone equipment required under this Act.

(b) The Secretary shall, subject to the concurrence of the Federal Communications Commission, prescribe regulations for the enforcement of this Act.

SEC. 9. (a) Whoever, being the master or person in charge of a vessel subject to this Act, fails to enforce or comply with this Act or the regulation, hereunder; or

Whoever, being designated by the master or person in charge of a vessel subject to this Act to pilot or direct the movement of the vessel, fails to enforce or comply with this Act or the regulations hereunderIs liable to a civil penalty of not more than $500 to be assessed by the Secretary.

(b) Every vessel navigating in violation of this Act or the regulations hereunder is liable to a civil penalty of not more than $500 to be assessed by the Secretary for which the vessel may be proceeded against in any district court of the United States having jurisdiction. (c) Any penalty assessed under this section may be remitted or mitigated by the Secretary upon such terms as he may deem proper.

SEC. 10. This Act shall become effective May 1, 1971, or six months after the promulgation of regulations which would implement its provisions, whichever is later.

Approved August 4, 1971.


HOUSE REPORT No. 92-346 (Comm. on Merchant Marine and Fisheries).
SENATE REPORT No. 92-78 (Comm. on Commerce).


Apr. 30, May 4, considered and passed Senate.
July 21, considered and passed House.

92nd Congress, H. R. 19
August 10, 1971

An Act

To provide for a coordinated national boating safety program.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That this Act may Federal Boat be cited as the "Federal Boat Safety Act of 1971”.


Safety Act of 1971.

SEC. 2. It is hereby declared to be the policy of Congress and the 85 STAT. 213 purpose of this Act to improve boating safety and to foster greater 85 STAT. 214 development, use, and enjoyment of all the waters of the United States by encouraging and assisting participation by the several States, the boating industry, and the boating public in development of more comprehensive boating safety programs; by authorizing the establishment of national construction and performance standards for boats and associated equipment; and by creating more flexible regulatory authority concerning the use of boats and equipment. It is further declared to be the policy of Congress to encourage greater and continuing uniformity of boating laws and regulations as among the several States and the Federal Government, a higher degree of reciprocity and comity among the several jurisdictions, and closer cooperation and assistance between the Federal Government and the several States in developing, administering, and enforcing Federal and State laws and regulations pertaining to boating safety.


SEC. 3. As used in this Act, and unless the context otherwise requires

(1) "Boat" means any vessel


(A) manufactured or used primarily for noncommercial use;

(B) leased, rented, or chartered to another for the latter's noncommercial use; or

(C) engaged in the carrying of six or fewer passengers. (2) "Vessel" includes every description of watercraft, other than a seaplane on the water, used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water.

(3) "Undocumented vessel" means a vessel which does not have and is not required to have a valid marine document as a vessel of the United States.

(2) "Pas" means operate, navigate, or employ on board a vessel other


(A) the owner or his representative;

(B) the operator;

(C) bona fide members of the crew engaged in the business of the vessel who have contributed no consideration for their carriage and who are paid for their services; or

(D) any guest on board a vessel which is being used exclusively for pleasure purposes who has not contributed any consideration, directly, or indirectly, for his carriage.

(6) "Owner" means a person who claims lawful possession of a vessel by virtue of legal title or equitable interest therein which entitles him to such possession.

85 STAT. 214

85 STAT. 215

(7) “Manufacturer" means any person engaged in

(A) the manufacture, construction, or assembly of boats or associated equipment; or

(B) the manufacture or construction of components for boats and associated equipment to be sold for subsequent assembly; or (C) the importation into the United States for sale of boats, associated equipment, or components thereof.

(8) "Associated equipment" means—

(A) any system, part, or component of a boat as originally manufactured or any similar part or component manufactured or sold for replacement, repair, or improvement of such system, part, or component;

(B) any accessory or equipment for, or appurtenance to, a boat; and

(C) any marine safety article, accessory, or equipment intended for use by a person on board a boat; but

(D) excluding radio equipment.

(9) "Secretary" means the Secretary of the Department in which the Coast Guard is operating.

(10) "State" means a State of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the District of Columbia.

(11) "Eligible State" means one that has a State boating safety program which has been accepted by the Secretary.


SEC. 4. (a) This Act applies to vessels and associated equipment used, to be used, or carried in vessels used, on waters subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and on the high seas beyond the territorial seas for vessels owned in the United States.

(b) Sections 5 through 11 and subsections 12(a) and 12(b) of this Act are applicable also to boats moving or intended to be moved in interstate commerce.

(c) This Act, except those sections where the content expressly indicates otherwise, does not apply to—

(1) foreign vessels temporarily using waters subject to United States jurisdiction;

(2) military or public vessels of the United States, except recreational-type public vessels;

(3) a vessel whose owner is a State or subdivision thereof, which is used principally for governmental purposes, and which is clearly identifiable as such;

(4) ships' lifeboats.



SEC. 5. (a) The Secretary may issue regulations

(1) establishing minimum safety standards for boats and associated equipment, and establishing procedures and tests required to measure conformance with such standards. Each standard shall be reasonable, shall meet the need for boating safety, and shall be stated, insofar as practicable, in terms of performance;

(2) requiring the installation, carrying, or using of associated equipment on boats and classes of boats subject to this Act; and prohibiting the installation, carrying, or using of associated equipment which does not conform with safety standards established

under this section. Equipment contemplated by this clause includes, but is not limited to, fuel systems, ventilation systems, electrical systems, navigational lights, sound producing devices, fire fighting equipment, lifesaving devices, signaling devices, ground tackle, life and grab rails, and navigational equipment. (b) A regulation or standard issued under this section-

(1) shall specify an effective date which is not earlier than one hundred and eighty days from the date of issuance, except that this period shall be increased in the discretion of the Secretary to not more than eighteen months in any case involving major product design, retooling, or major changes in the manufacturing process, unless the Secretary finds that there exists a boating safety hazard so critical as to require an earlier effective date; what constitutes major product redesign, retooling, or major changes shall be determined by the Secretary;

(2) may not compel substantial alteration of a boat or item of associated equipment which is in existence, or the construction or manufacture of which is commenced before the effective date of the regulation; but subject to that limitation may require compliance or performance to avoid a substantial risk of personal injury to the public that the Secretary considers appropriate in relation to the degree of hazard that the compliance will correct; and

(3) shall be consistent with laws and regulations governing the installation and maintenance of sanitation equipment.


SEC. 6. In establishing a need for formulating and prescribing regulations and standard under section 5 of this Act, the Secretary shall, among other things-

(1) consider the need for and the extent to which the regulations or standards will contribute to boating safety;

(2) consider relevant available boat safety standards, statistics and data, including public and private research, development, testing, and evaluation;

(3) consider whether any proposed regulation or standard is reasonable and appropriate for the particular type of boat or associated equipment for which it is prescribed;

(4) consult with the Boating Safety Advisory Council established pursuant to section 33 of this Act regarding all of the foregoing considerations.


SEC. 7. The Secretary may require or permit the display of seals, labels, plates, insignia, or other devices for the purpose of certifying or evidencing compliance with Federal safety regulations and standards for boats and associated equipment.


SEC. 8. The Secretary may, subject to such regulations, supervision, and review as he may prescribe, delegate to any person, or private or public agency, or to any employee under the supervision of such person or agency, any work, business, or function respecting the examination, inspection, and testing necessary for compliance enforcement or for the development of data to enable the Secretary to prescribe and to issue regulations and standards, under sections 5 and 6 of this Act.

85 STAT. 216

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