Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Ray Act and Small Passenger Vessels

Have you ever wondered why passengers vessels of less than 100 GT which carry less than 6 passengers are called SPVs?

On May 10, 1956, Congress enacted the `Ray Act', now referred to as the `Small Passenger Vessel Act', requiring inspection of passenger vessels weighing less than 100 gross tons and carrying more than six passengers, to ensure that the vessel could be `operated, and navigated with safety to life in the proposed service and that all applicable requirements of marine safety statutes and regulations are faithfully complied with.' 70 Stat. 151.

On September 1, 1958, Congress adopted the Federal Boating Act of 1958, amending the Motor Boat Act of 1940 making it applicable to all `motor boats . . . on the navigable waters of the United States . . .' and requiring the numbering of all vessels propelled by machinery of more than 10 horsepower and established a system whereby individual States could adopt a uniform numbering and certificate system. The Act further required that accidents involving numbered vessels be reported to the State in which the accident occurred and that the data collected by the States be reported to the Coast Guard. 72 Stat. 1754. In 1961, Congress extended the requirements of the Federal Boating Act of 1958 to Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. 75 Stat. 408.

On July 20, 1965, Congress `exempted oceanographic research vessels from the application of vessels inspection laws', and declared that `scientific personnel' were not `passengers'. 79 Stat. 424.

In 1967, Executive Order 167-81 transferred the U.S. Coast Guard from the Treasury Department to the newly-formed Department of Transportation.

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