(a) The Secretary of Transportation shall establish a vessel identification system to make available information under section 12503 of this title for use by the public for law enforcement and other purposes relating to—
(1) the ownership of documented vessels;
(2) the ownership of vessels numbered under chapter 123 of this title; and
(3) the ownership of vessels titled under the law of a State.
(b) The vessel identification system shall include information prescribed by the Secretary including—
(1) identifying a vessel;
(2) identifying the owner of the vessel, including—
(A) the owner's social security number or, if that number is not available, other means of identification acceptable to the Secretary; or
(B) for an owner other than an individual—
(i) the owner's taxpayer identification number; or
(ii) if the owner does not have a taxpayer identification number, the social security number of an individual who is a corporate officer, general partner, or individual trustee of the owner and who signed the application for documentation or numbering for the vessel;
(3) identifying the State in which it is titled or numbered;
(4) indicating whether the vessel is numbered or titled, or both;
(5) if titled in a State, indicating where evidence of a lien or other security interest may be found against the vessel in that State; and
(6) information assisting law enforcement officials.
(c) The Secretary may maintain information under this chapter in connection with any other information system maintained by the Secretary.
(Added Pub. L. 100–710, title I, §101(a), Nov. 23, 1988, 102 Stat. 4735; amended Pub. L. 101–225, title III, §302(1), Dec. 12, 1989, 103 Stat. 1922; Pub. L. 101–595, title VI, §603(10), Nov. 16, 1990, 104 Stat. 2993.)
Subsection (a) of section 12501 requires the Secretary of Transportation to establish a system of information concerning vessels of the United States for law enforcement and other purposes. The Secretary is required to make available information from the system relating to the ownership of vessels documented under chapter 121 of title 46, numbered under chapter 123 of that title, and titled under the law of a State. The information is available under section 12503 for use by the public, similarly under the Ship Mortgage Act, 1920.
Subsection (b) lists the vessel identification information which is required to be maintained by the Secretary. The Secretary has the authority to prescribe other information to be maintained in addition to the items listed. For example, the Secretary may identify vessels issued fisheries permits by the Department of Commerce. The Secretary may also monitor transactions involving vessels that require approval by the Secretary under section 9 of the Shipping Act, 1916 (46 App. U.S.C. 808) before interest or control in the vessel may be transferred to a noncitizen.
Subsection (c) clarifies that the Secretary has the flexibility to maintain this system in connection with any other information system maintained by the Secretary, including the Federal Aviation Administration system containing aircraft ownership information. This would also permit the Secretary to combine various systems and data bases maintained by the Secretary such as documentation and numbering of vessels, and safety, casualty, and law enforcement statistics.
1990—Subsec. (b)(2)(A). Pub. L. 101–595 amended subpar. (A) generally. Prior to amendment, subpar. (A) read as follows: "the owner's social security number; or".
1989—Subsec. (b)(2). Pub. L. 101–225 amended par. (2) generally, adding subpars. (A) and (B).
Section effective Jan. 1, 1989, with certain exceptions and qualifications, see section 107 of Pub. L. 100–710, set out as a note under section 31301 of this title.
Pub. L. 100–710, title I, §104(e)(2), Nov. 23, 1988, 102 Stat. 4751, provided that: "To establish, centralize, and computerize records and other information maintained under chapters 121, 125, and 313 of title 46, United States Code, from the effective date of this title [Jan. 1, 1989, with certain exceptions and qualifications, see section 107 of Pub. L. 100–710, set out as a note under section 31301 of this title] through September 30, 1993, the Secretary of Transportation shall spend (out of amounts appropriated for the Department of Transportation under an appropriations law) not less than an amount that is equal to the amounts estimated to be—
"(A) collected under section 9701 of title 31, United States Code, for fees paid for services and things of value provided under chapter 313 of title 46, United States Code (as enacted by section 101 of this Act), and for documenting vessels under chapter 121 of title 46; and
"(B) transferred to or collected by the Secretary under chapter 125 of title 46, United States Code (as enacted by section 101 of this Act)."
Pub. L. 100–710, title I, §104(g), Nov. 23, 1988, 102 Stat. 4751, provided that: "Nothing in this section [amending sections 2101, 2110, 12102, 12103, 12105, 12110, 12112, 12117, 12119, and 12120 of this title and sections 808, 1242, and 1271 of the Appendix to this title, and enacting provisions set out as notes under sections 12501, 12502, and 12505 of this title] requires the Coast Guard to recruit, compensate, train, purchase, or deploy any personnel or equipment to carry out chapter 125 of title 46, United States Code (as enacted by section 101 of this Act), except to the extent that appropriations are made available in an appropriations law for the Department of Transportation."
[For transfer of authorities, functions, personnel, and assets of the Coast Guard, including the authorities and functions of the Secretary of Transportation relating thereto, to the Department of Homeland Security, and for treatment of related references, see sections 468(b), 551(d), 552(d), and 557 of Title 6, Domestic Security, and the Department of Homeland Security Reorganization Plan of November 25, 2002, as modified, set out as a note under section 542 of Title 6.]