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) shall be carried on board the described vessels, dredges, and floating plants upon the navigable waters of the United States, which includes all waters of the territorial sea of the United States as described in Presidential Proclamation 5928 of December 27, 1988.
(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; Pub. L. 107–295, title III, §321, Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2103.)
Presidential Proclamation 5928 of December 27, 1988, referred to in subsec. (b), is set out as a note under section 1331 of Title 43, Public Lands.
2002—Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 107–295 substituted "United States, which includes all waters of the territorial sea of the United States as described in Presidential Proclamation 5928 of December 27, 1988" for "United States inside the lines established pursuant to section 151 of this title".
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".
Section effective May 1, 1971, or six months after the promulgation of regulations which would implement its provisions, whichever is later, see section 10 of Pub. L. 92–63, set out as a note under section 1201 of this title.
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."