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U.S. CODE
TITLE 33
NAVIGATION AND NAVIGABLE WATERS

Version 2010-02-01

Last update 2011-11-19


  • NAVIGABLE WATERS GENERALLY
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
    • WATERS DECLARED NONNAVIGABLE: CHANGE OF NAME
  • INTERNATIONAL RULES FOR NAVIGATION AT SEA
  • NAVIGATION RULES FOR HARBORS, RIVERS, AND INLAND WATERS GENERALLY
    • PRELIMINARY
    • RULES CONCERNING LIGHTS, ETC.
    • SOUND SIGNALS FOR FOG, ETC.; SPEED
    • STEERING AND SAILING RULES AND SIGNALS
    • NO VESSEL UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TO NEGLECT PROPER PRECAUTIONS
    • DISTRESS SIGNALS
    • ORDERS
  • NAVIGATION RULES FOR GREAT LAKES AND THEIR CONNECTING AND TRIBUTARY WATERS
    • PRELIMINARY
    • RULES CONCERNING LIGHTS, ETC.
    • SOUND SIGNALS FOR FOG, ETC.; SPEED
    • STEERING AND SAILING RULES
    • ORDERS
    • VESSELS NOT UNDER WAY
  • NAVIGATION RULES FOR RED RIVER OF THE NORTH AND RIVERS EMPTYING INTO GULF OF MEXICO AND TRIBUTARIES
    • PRELIMINARY
    • RULES CONCERNING LIGHTS
    • SOUND SIGNALS FOR FOG, ETC.
    • STEERING AND SAILING RULES
    • ORDERS
    • MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
  • EXEMPTION OF NAVY OR COAST GUARD VESSELS FROM CERTAIN NAVIGATION RULES
  • GENERAL DUTIES OF SHIP OFFICERS AND OWNERS AFTER COLLISION OR OTHER ACCIDENT
  • REGULATIONS FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF PIRACY
  • SUMMARY TRIALS FOR CERTAIN OFFENSES AGAINST NAVIGATION LAWS
  • PROTECTION OF NAVIGABLE WATERS AND OF HARBOR AND RIVER IMPROVEMENTS GENERALLY
    • IN GENERAL
    • OIL POLLUTION OF COASTAL WATERS
    • NEW YORK HARBOR, HARBOR OF HAMPTON ROADS, AND HARBOR OF BALTIMORE
    • POTOMAC RIVER AND TRIBUTARIES IN DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
    • NAVIGABLE WATERS OF MARYLAND
    • WATER POLLUTION CONTROL
    • DAM INSPECTION PROGRAM
  • ANCHORAGE GROUNDS AND HARBOR REGULATIONS GENERALLY
  • BRIDGES OVER NAVIGABLE WATERS
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
    • ALTERATION OF BRIDGES
    • GENERAL BRIDGE AUTHORITY
    • INTERNATIONAL BRIDGES
  • RIVER AND HARBOR IMPROVEMENTS GENERALLY
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
    • PAY AND ALLOWANCES; TRAVELING EXPENSES AND SUBSISTENCE
    • ACQUISITION OF LAND AND MATERIALS
    • PARTICULAR WORK OR IMPROVEMENTS
    • PROSECUTION OF WORK GENERALLY
  • MISSISSIPPI RIVER COMMISSION
  • CALIFORNIA DEBRIS COMMISSION
  • FLOOD CONTROL
  • LIGHTHOUSES
  • NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
    • SURVEYS
    • NOAA FLEET MODERNIZATION
    • NOAA HYDROGRAPHIC SERVICES
    • RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, EDUCATION, AND INNOVATION
  • LONGSHORE AND HARBOR WORKERS COMPENSATION
  • SAINT LAWRENCE SEAWAY
  • POLLUTION OF THE SEA BY OIL
  • INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS FOR PREVENTING COLLISIONS AT SEA
  • SEA GRANT COLLEGES AND MARINE SCIENCE DEVELOPMENT
    • MARINE RESOURCES AND ENGINEERING DEVELOPMENT
    • NATIONAL SEA GRANT COLLEGE PROGRAM
  • POLLUTION CONTROL OF NAVIGABLE WATERS
  • VESSEL BRIDGE-TO-BRIDGE COMMUNICATION
  • PORTS AND WATERWAYS SAFETY PROGRAM
  • WATER POLLUTION PREVENTION AND CONTROL
    • RESEARCH AND RELATED PROGRAMS
    • GRANTS FOR CONSTRUCTION OF TREATMENT WORKS
    • STANDARDS AND ENFORCEMENT
    • PERMITS AND LICENSES
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
    • STATE WATER POLLUTION CONTROL REVOLVING FUNDS
  • OCEAN DUMPING
    • REGULATION
    • RESEARCH
  • POLLUTION CASUALTIES ON THE HIGH SEAS: UNITED STATES INTERVENTION
  • DEEPWATER PORTS
  • INTERNATIONAL REGULATIONS FOR PREVENTING COLLISIONS AT SEA
  • OCEAN POLLUTION RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AND MONITORING PLANNING
  • INLAND WATERWAYS TRUST FUND
  • PREVENTION OF POLLUTION FROM SHIPS
  • MARINE DEBRIS RESEARCH, PREVENTION, AND REDUCTION
  • INLAND NAVIGATIONAL RULES
    • RULES
      • General
      • Steering and Sailing Rules
        • conduct of vessels in any condition of visibility
        • conduct of vessels in sight of one another
        • conduct of vessels in restricted visibility
      • Lights and Shapes
      • Sound and Light Signals
      • Exemptions
    • MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS
  • ARTIFICIAL REEFS
  • WATER RESOURCES DEVELOPMENT
    • COST SHARING
    • HARBOR DEVELOPMENT
    • INLAND WATERWAY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM
    • WATER RESOURCES STUDIES
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
  • ORGANOTIN ANTIFOULING PAINT CONTROL
  • DUMPING OF MEDICAL WASTE BY PUBLIC VESSELS
  • SHORE PROTECTION FROM MUNICIPAL OR COMMERCIAL WASTE
    • SHORE PROTECTION
    • RELATED PROVISIONS
  • OIL POLLUTION
    • OIL POLLUTION LIABILITY AND COMPENSATION
    • PRINCE WILLIAM SOUND PROVISIONS
    • MISCELLANEOUS
    • OIL POLLUTION RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM
  • NATIONAL COASTAL MONITORING
  • ESTUARY RESTORATION
  • NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION COMMISSIONED OFFICER CORPS
    • GENERAL PROVISIONS
    • APPOINTMENT AND PROMOTION OF OFFICERS
    • SEPARATION AND RETIREMENT OF OFFICERS
    • SERVICE OF OFFICERS WITH THE MILITARY DEPARTMENTS
    • RIGHTS AND BENEFITS
  • OCEANS AND HUMAN HEALTH
  • TSUNAMI WARNING AND EDUCATION
  • NATIONAL LEVEE SAFETY PROGRAM
  • OCEAN EXPLORATION
    • EXPLORATION
    • NOAA UNDERSEA RESEARCH PROGRAM
  • OCEAN AND COASTAL MAPPING INTEGRATION
  • INTEGRATED COASTAL AND OCEAN OBSERVATION SYSTEM
  • FEDERAL OCEAN ACIDIFICATION RESEARCH AND MONITORING
  • Version 2010-02-01

CHAPTER 1

NAVIGABLE WATERS GENERALLY

1 - SUBCHAPTER I

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Regulations by Secretary of the Army for navigation of waters generally

It shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Army to prescribe such regulations for the use, administration, and navigation of the navigable waters of the United States as in his judgment the public necessity may require for the protection of life and property, or of operations of the United States in channel improvement, covering all matters not specifically delegated by law to some other executive department. Such regulations shall be posted, in conspicuous and appropriate places, for the information of the public; and every person and every corporation which shall violate such regulations shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and, on conviction thereof in any district court of the United States within whose territorial jurisdiction such offense may have been committed, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500, or by imprisonment (in the case of a natural person) not exceeding six months, in the discretion of the court.

Any regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Army in pursuance of this section may be enforced as provided in section 413 of this title, the provisions whereof are made applicable to the said regulations.



Regulations for navigation of South and Southwest Passes of Mississippi River; penalties

The Secretary of the Army is authorized to make such rules and regulations for the navigation of the South and Southwest Passes of the Mississippi River as to him shall seem necessary or expedient for the purpose of preventing any obstruction to the channels through said South and Southwest Passes and any injury to the works therein constructed. The term "South and Southwest Passes", as employed in this section, shall be construed as embracing the entire extent of channel in each case, between the upper ends of the works at the head of the pass and the outer or sea ends of the jetties at the entrance from the Gulf of Mexico; and any willful violation of any rule or regulation made by the Secretary of the Army in pursuance of this section shall be deemed a misdemeanor, for which the owner or owners, agent or agents, master or pilot of the vessel so offending shall be separately or collectively responsible, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not less than $100, nor exceeding $500, or by imprisonment for not exceeding three months, or by both fine and imprisonment, at the discretion of the court.



Regulations to prevent injuries from target practice

Authority to adopt regulations—In the interest of the national defense, and for the better protection of life and property on the navigable waters of the United States, the Secretary of the Army is authorized and empowered to prescribe such regulations as he may deem best for the use and navigation of any portion or area of the navigable waters of the United States or waters under the jurisdiction of the United States endangered or likely to be endangered by Artillery fire in target practice or otherwise, or by the proving operations of the Government ordnance proving grounds at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, or at any Government ordnance proving ground that may be established elsewhere on or near such waters, and of any portion or area of said waters occupied by submarine mines, mine fields, submarine cables, or other material and accessories pertaining to seacoast fortifications, or by any plant or facility engaged in the execution of any public project of river and harbor improvement; and the said Secretary shall have like power to regulate the transportation of explosives upon any of said waters: Provided, That the authority conferred shall be so exercised as not unreasonably to interfere with or restrict the food fishing industry, and the regulations prescribed in pursuance hereof shall provide for the use of such waters by food fishermen operating under permits granted by the Department of the Army.

Detail of vessels to enforce regulations—To enforce the regulations prescribed pursuant to this section, the Secretary of the Army, may detail any public vessel in the service of the Department of the Army, or, upon the request of the Secretary of the Army, the head of any other department may enforce, and the head of any such department is authorized to enforce, such regulations by means of any public vessel of such department.

Posting and violation of regulations—The regulations made by the Secretary of the Army pursuant to this section shall be posted in conspicuous and appropriate places, designated by him, for the information of the public; and every person who and every corporation which shall willfully violate any regulations made by the said Secretary pursuant to this section shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof in any court of competent jurisdiction shall be punished by a fine not exceeding $500, or by imprisonment (in the case of a natural person) not exceeding six months, in the discretion of the court.

Venue and jurisdiction of offenses; procedure—Offenses against the provisions of this section, or any regulation made pursuant thereto, committed in any Territory or other place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States where there is no court having general jurisdiction of crimes against the United States, shall be cognizable in any court of such place or Territory having original jurisdiction of criminal cases in the place or Territory in which the offense has been committed, with the same right of appeal in all cases as is given in other criminal cases where imprisonment not exceeding six months forms a part of the penalty, and jurisdiction is conferred upon such courts and such courts shall exercise the same for such purposes; and in case any such offense be committed beyond the territorial jurisdiction of any court having jurisdiction thereof, the offense shall be deemed and held to have been committed within the jurisdiction in which the offender may be found or into which he is first brought, and shall be tried by the court having jurisdiction thereof.



Water gauges on Mississippi River and tributaries

The Secretary of the Army is authorized and directed to have water gauges established, and daily observations made of the rise and fall of the Mississippi River and its tributaries.

For the purpose of securing the uninterrupted gauging of the waters of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, as provided for in this section, upon the application of the Chief of Engineers, the Secretary of the Army is authorized to draw his warrant or requisition, from time to time, upon the Secretary of the Treasury for such sums as may be necessary to do such work, not to exceed in the aggregate for each year the sum of $9,600.



Abolition of tolls on Government canals, canalized rivers, etc.; expense of operation, repairs to and reconstruction of canals, etc.; Panama Canal excepted; levies by non-Federal interest

(a) No tolls or operating charges whatever shall be levied upon or collected from any vessel, dredge, or other water craft for passing through any lock, canal, canalized river, or other work for the use and benefit of navigation, now belonging to the United States or that may be hereafter acquired or constructed; and for the purpose of preserving and continuing the use and navigation of said canals and other public works without interruption, the Secretary of the Army, upon the recommendation of the Chief of Engineers, United States Army, is authorized to draw his warrant or requisition, from time to time, upon the Secretary of the Treasury to pay the actual expenses of operating, maintaining, and keeping said works in repair, which warrants or requisitions shall be paid by the Secretary of the Treasury out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated: Provided, That whenever, in the judgment of the Secretary of the Army, the condition of any of the aforesaid works is such that its entire reconstruction is absolutely essential to its efficient and economical maintenance and operation as herein provided for, the reconstruction thereof may include such modifications in plan and location as may be necessary to provide adequate facilities for existing navigation: Provided further, That the modifications are necessary to make the reconstructed work conform to similar works previously authorized by Congress and forming a part of the same improvement, and that such modifications shall be considered and approved by the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors and be recommended by the Chief of Engineers before the work of reconstruction is commenced: And provided further, That nothing contained in this section shall be held to apply to the Panama Canal.

(b) No taxes, tolls, operating charges, fees, or any other impositions whatever shall be levied upon or collected from any vessel or other water craft, or from its passengers or crew, by any non-Federal interest, if the vessel or water craft is operating on any navigable waters subject to the authority of the United States, or under the right to freedom of navigation on those waters, except for—
  • (1) fees charged under section 2236 of this title;

  • (2) reasonable fees charged on a fair and equitable basis that—
    • (A) are used solely to pay the cost of a service to the vessel or water craft;

    • (B) enhance the safety and efficiency of interstate and foreign commerce; and

    • (C) do not impose more than a small burden on interstate or foreign commerce; or

  • (3) property taxes on vessels or watercraft, other than vessels or watercraft that are primarily engaged in foreign commerce if those taxes are permissible under the United States Constitution.





    Free passage to harbor of Michigan City, Indiana

    The passage of vessels to and from the harbor of Michigan City, in Indiana, shall be free and not subject to toll or charge.



    Use of Government iron pier in Delaware Bay

    The Government iron pier in Delaware Bay near Lewes, Delaware, shall be open to public use under regulations to be prescribed by the Secretary of the Army.



    Toll free rivers in Alabama

    The Tennessee, Coosa, Cahawba, and Black Warrior Rivers, within the State of Alabama, shall be forever free from toll for all property belonging to the United States, and for all persons in their service, and for all citizens of the United States, except as to such tolls as may be allowed by Act of Congress.



    Des Moines River as toll free

    The Des Moines River shall forever remain free from any toll, or other charge whatever, for any property of the United States, or persons in their service, passing along the same.



    Waters in Louisiana Purchase as public highways

    All the navigable rivers and waters in the former Territories of Orleans and Louisiana shall be and forever remain public highways.



    Authority for compact between Middle Northwest States as to jurisdiction of offenses committed on boundary waters

    The consent of the Congress is given to the States of North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Nebraska, or any two or more of them, by such agreement or compact as they may deem desirable or necessary, or as may be evidenced by legislative acts enacted by any two or more of said States, not in conflict with the Constitution of the United States or any law thereof, to determine and settle the jurisdiction to be exercised by said States, respectively, over offenses arising out of the violation of the laws of any of said States upon any of the waters forming the boundary lines between any two or more of said States, or waters through which such boundary line extends, and that the consent of the Congress be, and the same is, given to the concurrent jurisdiction agreed to by the States of Minnesota and South Dakota, as evidenced by the act of the Legislature of the State of Minnesota approved April 20, 1917, and the act of the Legislature of the State of South Dakota approved February 13, 1917.



    Port Arthur Ship Canal

    After there shall be conveyed to the United States, free of cost, a valid title to the line of water communication between Taylors Bayou and Sabine Pass, in the State of Texas, known as the Port Arthur Ship Canal, together with a valid title to the turning basin as existing June 19, 1906, and to the artificial slip on which the lumber dock of the Port Arthur Canal and Dock Company is built, the said waterways shall thereupon become free public waters of the United States, and be subject to the laws enacted by Congress for the maintenance, preservation, protection, and regulation of navigable waters: Provided, That the company or corporation conveying title to said canal as aforesaid shall also convey to the United States, free of cost, the fee to a strip of land one hundred and fifty feet wide along the westerly margin of the canal, except that where the right of way of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company prevents the transfer of such strip of land along the westerly margin of said canal there shall be conveyed such strip on the easterly margin thereof as may be necessary to make up such one hundred and fifty feet of width, with the reservation that until Congress shall have authorized and provided for the enlargement and widening of said canal the said company or corporation, its successors or assigns, shall have the right to control, occupy, and use the said strip of land and every part thereof in the same manner and to the same extent as before the execution and delivery of the conveyance, and also the right to transfer, lease, sell, quitclaim, or otherwise dispose of said property and every part thereof, subject to the grant made to the United States. The charges for the use of said docks and wharves shall be just and reasonable and shall not be greater than charges for similar services at other ports of the United States on the Gulf of Mexico.



    1 - SUBCHAPTER II

    WATERS DECLARED NONNAVIGABLE: CHANGE OF NAME