Laws and Regulations
The Military Cargo Preference Act of 1904 (1904 Act), 10 USC 2631 (2007), requires all items procured for or owned by U.S. military departments and defense agencies be carried exclusively (100 percent) on U.S.-flag vessels available at rates that are not excessive or otherwise unreasonable. These cargoes are generated primarily by DOD contracts with domestic and foreign contractors. Cargo preference applies not only to the end product but also to component parts.
Cargo Preference Act of 1954
Transportation of U.S. Government Personnel
Section 901(a) of the Merchant Marine Act 1936 as amended by the Cargo Preference Act of 1954, and as now codified at Chapter 553 Subchapter I of 46 USC 55302 (2007) any officer or employee of the United States traveling on official business overseas or to or from any of the possessions of the United States, unless otherwise noted, must travel and transport his personal effects on ships registered under the laws of the United States.
Section 901(b) of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 as amended by the Cargo Preference Act of 1954 and as now codified under Chapter 553 Subchapter I of 46 USC 55305 (2007), and further amended by Public Law 110-417, Section 3511 National Defense Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2009: Cargoes procured, furnished, or financed by the United States Government requires that at least 50 percent of the gross tonnage of all Government-generated cargo be transported on privately owned, U.S.-flag commercial vessels to the extent such vessels are available at fair and reasonable rates.
It should be noted that specific and substantive changes have been made to 46 USC 55305 (2007) as per the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009.
P.L. 105-383 established that substandard vessels and vessels operated by operators of substandard vessels are prohibited from the carriage of Government-impelled cargo for up to one year after such determination has been electronically published. The easy availability of this information has resulted in increased industry use. A listing of owners/operators prohibited from carrying Government-impelled cargo is available on the U.S. Coast Guard's Homeport webpage.
Exports Financed by the United States under Public Resolution 17
Public Resolution (PR) 17 - 73rd Congress, approved March 26, 1934 (48 Stat. 500) as amended by Public Law 97-31 approved August 6, 1981 (91 Stat. 165) has been codified at Chapter 553 Subchapter I of 46 USC 55302 (2007) requires that all cargoes generated by an instrumentality of the Government, be shipped (100 percent) on U.S.-flag vessels, unless a waiver is granted by the Maritime Administration.
The Maritime Security Act of 1996, Section 17 of the 1996 Act permits Great Lakes ports to participate in the handling of P.L. 480 Title II humanitarian food aid packaged commodities awarded on a lowest landed cost basis without reference to vessel flag. The law allows these ports to act as bridge-ports, providing loading and unloading services, even though the cargo actually may be shipped from another port, and thus provides stevedoring jobs during the winter months when the Great Lakes are closed to vessel traffic.
"The Cargo Preference Act of 1954 and Related Legislation" by Murray A. Bloom (contained in the "Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce" Vol. 39, No. 3, July 2008)
"Application of Federal Cargo Preference Act of 1904 to Supplies Bought for the Military to Which the Government has not yet Acquired Title" - Department of Justice Opinion dated February 2, 1988
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