(a) For the identification of a vessel of the United States, the Secretary of Transportation—
(1) shall maintain a unique numbering system and assign a number to each vessel of the United States;
(2) may maintain a system of signal letters for a documented vessel;
(3) shall record a name selected by the owner of a documented vessel approved by the Secretary as the vessel's name of record; and
(4) may establish other identification markings.
(b) The manufacturer or owner of a vessel shall affix to the vessel and maintain in the manner prescribed by the Secretary the number assigned and any other markings the Secretary may require.
(c) Once a number is assigned under this section, it may not be used by another vessel.
(d) Once a documented vessel's name is established, the name may not be changed without the approval of the Secretary.
(e) A person may not tamper with or falsify a number or other marking required under this section.
(Added Pub. L. 100–710, title I, §101(a), Nov. 23, 1988, 102 Stat. 4736.)
Last modified: October 26, 2015