This chapter is referred to in section 2034 of this title.
It is the purpose of this chapter 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.
(Pub. L. 92–63, §2, Aug. 4, 1971, 85 Stat. 164.)
Section 1 of Pub. L. 92–63 provided: “That this Act [enacting this chapter] may be cited as the ‘Vessel Bridge-to-Bridge Radiotelephone Act’.”
Section 10 of Pub. L. 92–63 provided that: “This Act [enacting this chapter] shall become effective May 1, 1971, or six months after the promulgation of regulations which would implement its provisions, whichever is later.” See 47 CFR 83.701 et seq.
For the purpose of this chapter—
(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.
(Pub. L. 92–63, §3, Aug. 4, 1971, 85 Stat. 164.)
Except as provided in section 1206 of this title—
(1) every power-driven vessel of twenty meters or over in length while navigating;
(2) every vessel of one hundred gross tons as measured under section 14502 of title 46, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of that title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of that title, 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.
The radiotelephone required by subsection (a) of this section 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 151 of this title.
(Pub. L. 92–63, §4, Aug. 4, 1971, 85 Stat. 164; Pub. L. 102–241, §16, Dec. 19, 1991, 105 Stat. 2213; Pub. L. 104–324, title VII, §704, Oct. 19, 1996, 110 Stat. 3933.)
1996—Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 104–324 inserted “as measured under section 14502 of title 46, or an alternate tonnage measured under section 14302 of that title as prescribed by the Secretary under section 14104 of that title,” after “one hundred gross tons”.
1991—Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 102–241 amended par. (1) generally, substituting “twenty meters or over in length” for “three hundred gross tons and upward”.
Pub. L. 101–380, title IV, §4118, Aug. 18, 1990, 104 Stat. 523, provided that: “The Secretary shall, not later than one year after the date of the enactment of this Act [Aug. 18, 1990], issue regulations necessary to ensure that vessels subject to the Vessel Bridge-to-Bridge Radiotelephone Act of 1971 (33 U.S.C. 1203) are also equipped as necessary to—
“(1) receive radio marine navigation safety warnings; and
“(2) engage in radio communications on designated frequencies with the Coast Guard, and such other vessels and stations as may be specified by the Secretary.”
This section is referred to in title 46 section 14305.
The radiotelephone required by this chapter 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 chapter.
(Pub. L. 92–63, §5, Aug. 4, 1971, 85 Stat. 165.)
Whenever radiotelephone capability is required by this chapter, 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 chapter, nor 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.
(Pub. L. 92–63, §6, Aug. 4, 1971, 85 Stat. 165.)
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 chapter, on such terms and conditions as he considers appropriate.
(Pub. L. 92–63, §7, Aug. 4, 1971, 85 Stat. 165.)
This section is referred to in section 1203 of this title.
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 chapter.
The Secretary shall, subject to the concurrence of the Federal Communications Commission, prescribe regulations for the enforcement of this chapter.
(Pub. L. 92–63, §8, Aug. 4, 1971, 85 Stat. 165.)
Whoever, being the master or person in charge of a vessel subject to this chapter, fails to enforce or comply with this chapter or the regulation, hereunder; or
Whoever, being designated by the master or person in charge of a vessel subject to this chapter to pilot or direct the movement of the vessel, fails to enforce or comply with this chapter or the regulations hereunder—
Is liable to a civil penalty of not more than $500 to be assessed by the Secretary.
Every vessel navigating in violation of this chapter 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.
Any penalty assessed under this section may be remitted or mitigated by the Secretary upon such terms as he may deem proper.
(Pub. L. 92–63, §9, Aug. 4, 1971, 85 Stat. 165.)