Registration And Ownership
A sovereign nation has the authority to regulate all vessels that fly its flag on the high seas. Congress, accordingly, is empowered to enact legislation controlling domestic merchant ships that sail the high seas. Title 46 of the United States Code Annotated, entitled Shipping, contains most of the pertinent federal laws regarding U.S. shipping.
All the ships in the U.S. merchant fleet are registered in the United States and completely staffed by U.S. citizens. Because of the higher labor costs associated with employing U.S. personnel, many ships are registered in other countries to avoid this labor requirement.
Ships can be owned by either one person or co-owners. Because of the enormous cost of merchant vessels, the majority are held by more than one owner. A bill of sale is the ordinary evidence of title to, and ownership of, a vessel. Between co-owners, the right to control and use the vessel is generally reserved for the majority interest. In the event that co-owners absolutely cannot come to an agreement on how to use the vessel, one or more of them may obtain a court decree for sale of it. In general, however, a part owner shares in the profits and expenses from use of the ship in proportion to her interest.
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