PUBLIC VESSELS ACT

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PUBLIC VESSELS ACT

SEC. 1. LIBEL IN ADMIRALTY AGAINST OR IMPLEADER OF UNITED STATES (46 App. U.S.C. 781 (2002)). A libel in personam in admiralty may be brought against the United States, or a petition impleading the United States, for damages caused by a public vessel of the United States, and for compensation for towage and salvage services, including contract salvage, rendered to a public vessel of the United States: Provided, That the cause of action arose after the 6th day of April, 1920

SEC. 2. VENUE OF SUIT; APPLICATION OF PROVISIONS OF THE SUITS IN ADMIRALTY ACT (46 App. U.S.C. 782 (2002)). Such suit shall be brought in the district court of the United States for the district in which the vessel or cargo charged with creating the liability is found within the United States, or if such vessel or cargo be outside the territorial waters of the United States, then in the district court of the United States for the district in which the parties so suing, or any of them, reside or have an office for the transaction of business in the United States; or in case none of such parties reside or have an office for the transaction of business in the United States, and such vessel or cargo be outside the territorial waters of the United States, then in any district court of the United States. Such suits shall be subject to and proceed in accordance with the provisions of an Act entitled _An Act authorizing suits against the United States in admiralty, suits for salvage services, and providing for the release of merchant vessels belonging to the United States from arrest and attachment in foreign jurisdictions, and for other purposes,_ approved March 9, 1920, or any amendment thereof, in so far as the same are not inconsistent herewith, except that no interest shall be allowed on any claim up to the time of the rendition of judgment unless upon a contract expressly stipulating for the payment of interest.

SEC. 3. CROSS LIBEL, SET-OFF, OR COUNTERCLAIM (46 App. U.S.C. 783 (2002)).
In the event of the United States filing a libel in rem or in personam in admiralty for damages caused by a privately owned vessel, the owner of such vessel, or his successors in interest, may file a cross libel in personam or claim a set-off or counterclaim against the United States in such suit for and on account of any damages arising out of the same subject matter or cause of action: Provided, That whenever a cross libel is filed for any cause of action for which the original libel is filed by authority of this Act, the respondent in the cross libel shall give security in the usual amount and form to respond to the claim set forth in said cross libel unless the court, for cause shown, shall otherwise direct; and all proceedings on the original libel shall be stayed until such security shall be given.

SEC. 4. SUBPOENAS TO OFFICERS OR MEMBERS OF CREWS (46 App. U.S.C. 784 (2002)). No officer or member of the crew of any public vessel of the United States may be subpoenaed in connection with any suit authorized under this Act without the consent of the Secretary of the department or the head of any independent establishment of the Government having control of the vessel at the time the cause of action arose, or of the master or commanding officer of such vessel at the time of the issuance of such subpoena.

SEC. 5. SUITS BY NATIONALS OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS (46 App. U.S.C. 785 (2002)). No suit may be brought under this Act by a national of any foreign government unless it shall appear to the satisfaction of the court in which suit is brought that said government, under similar circumstances, allows nationals of the United States to sue in its courts.

SEC. 6. ARBITRATION, COMPROMISE, OR SETTLEMENT (46 App. U.S.C. 786 (2002)). The Attorney General of the United States is authorized to arbitrate, compromise, or settle any claim on which a libel or cross libel would lie under the provisions of this Act, and for which a libel or cross libel has actually been filed.

SEC. 7. PAYMENT OF JUDGMENTS OR SETTLEMENTS (46 App. U.S.C. 787 (2002)).
Any final judgment rendered on any libel or cross libel herein authorized, and any settlement had and agreed to under the provisions of section 6 of this Act, shall, upon presentation of a duly authenticated copy thereof, be paid by the proper accounting officer of the United States out of any moneys in the Treasury of the United States appropriated therefor by Congress.

SEC. 8. LIEN NOT CREATED AGAINST PUBLIC VESSELS (46 App. U.S.C. 788 (2002)). Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed to recognize the existence of or as creating a lien against any public vessel of the United States.

SEC. 9. EXEMPTIONS AND LIMITATIONS OF LIABILITY (46 App. U.S.C. 789 (2002)).
The United States shall be entitled to the benefits of all exemptions and of all limitations of liability accorded by law to the owners, charterers, operators or agents of vessels.

SEC. 10. REPORTS BY ATTORNEY GENERAL (46 App. U.S.C. 790 (2002)). The Attorney General of the United States shall report to the Congress at each session thereof all claims which shall have been settled under this act.

source: U.S. Department of Transportation MARITIME ADMINISTRATION
http://www.marad.dot.gov/publications/complaw03/Public%20Vessels%20Act.htm

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