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    14 USC Sec. 88                                              01/05/2009




    Sec. 88. Saving life and property


      (a) In order to render aid to distressed persons, vessels, and
    aircraft on and under the high seas and on and under the waters
    over which the United States has jurisdiction and in order to
    render aid to persons and property imperiled by flood, the Coast
    Guard may:
        (1) perform any and all acts necessary to rescue and aid
      persons and protect and save property;
        (2) take charge of and protect all property saved from marine
      or aircraft disasters, or floods, at which the Coast Guard is
      present, until such property is claimed by persons legally
      authorized to receive it or until otherwise disposed of in
      accordance with law or applicable regulations, and care for
      bodies of those who may have perished in such catastrophes;
        (3) furnish clothing, food, lodging, medicines, and other
      necessary supplies and services to persons succored by the Coast
      Guard; and
        (4) destroy or tow into port sunken or floating dangers to
      (b)(1) Subject to paragraph (2), the Coast Guard may render aid
    to persons and protect and save property at any time and at any
    place at which Coast Guard facilities and personnel are available
    and can be effectively utilized.
      (2) The Commandant shall make full use of all available and
    qualified resources, including the Coast Guard Auxiliary and
    individuals licensed by the Secretary pursuant to section 8904(b)
    of title 46, United States Code, in rendering aid under this
    subsection in nonemergency cases.
      (c) An individual who knowingly and willfully communicates a
    false distress message to the Coast Guard or causes the Coast Guard
    to attempt to save lives and property when no help is needed is -
        (1) guilty of a class D felony;
        (2) subject to a civil penalty of not more than $5,000; and
        (3) liable for all costs the Coast Guard incurs as a result of
      the individual's action.
      (d) The Secretary shall establish a helicopter rescue swimming
    program for the purpose of training selected Coast Guard personnel
    in rescue swimming skills, which may include rescue diver training.


    (Aug. 4, 1949, ch. 393, 63 Stat. 501; Pub. L. 91-278, Sec. 1(3),
    June 12, 1970, 84 Stat. 304; Pub. L. 100-448, Sec. 30(a), Sept. 28,
    1988, 102 Stat. 1849; Pub. L. 101-595, title IV, Sec. 401, Nov. 16,
    1990, 104 Stat. 2989; Pub. L. 104-324, title II, Sec. 213(a), Oct.
    19, 1996, 110 Stat. 3915.)


      Derived from title 14, U.S.C., 1946 ed., Secs. 29, 53, 55, 60,
    61, 62, 63, 104, and title 34, U.S.C., 1946 ed., Sec. 471 (R.S.
    1536, R.S. 2759; June 18, 1878, ch. 265, Sec. 4, 20 Stat. 163; Apr.
    19, 1906, ch. 1640, Secs. 1-3, 34 Stat. 123; May 12, 1906, ch.
    2454, 34 Stat. 190; June 24, 1914, ch. 124, 38 Stat. 387; Aug. 29,
    1916, ch. 417, 39 Stat. 601; Aug. 6, 1947, ch. 502, 61 Stat. 786).
      This section broadens existing law in that it authorizes the
    Coast Guard to engage in saving life and property in the broadest
    possible terms, without limitation as to place. This section
    reflects existing sentiment as to Coast Guard functions in relation
    to saving life and property. There is no intention to supersede or
    conflict with the present authority of the Civil Aeronautics Board
    to investigate certain aircraft wrecks. 81st Congress, House Report
    No. 557.
      1996 - Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 104-324 added subsec. (d).
      1990 - Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 101-595 added subsec. (c).
      1988 - Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 100-448 designated existing
    provisions as par. (1), substituted "Subject to paragraph (2), the
    Coast Guard" for "The Coast Guard", and added par. (2).
      1970 - Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 91-278 substituted "on and under the
    high seas and on and under the waters" for "on the high seas and on
    waters" in introductory text.


      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.


      Pub. L. 107-295, title III, Sec. 346, Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat.
    2107, provided that:
      "(a) Report. - The Secretary of the department in which the Coast
    Guard is operating shall prepare a status report on the
    modernization of the National Distress and Response System and
    transmit the report, not later than 60 days after the date of
    enactment of this Act [Nov. 25, 2002] and annually thereafter until
    completion of the project, to the Committee on Commerce, Science,
    and Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on
    Transportation and Infrastructure of the House of Representatives.
      "(b) Contents. - The report required by subsection (a) shall -
        "(1) set forth the scope of the modernization, the schedule for
      completion of the System, and information on progress in meeting
      the schedule and on any anticipated delays;
        "(2) specify the funding expended to-date on the System, the
      funding required to complete the System, and the purposes for
      which the funds were or will be expended;
        "(3) describe and map the existing public and private
      communications coverage throughout the waters of the coastal and
      internal regions of the continental United States, Alaska,
      Hawaii, Guam, and the Caribbean, and identify locations that
      possess direction-finding, asset-tracking communications, and
      digital selective calling service;
        "(4) identify areas of high risk to boaters and Coast Guard
      personnel due to communications gaps;
        "(5) specify steps taken by the Secretary to fill existing gaps
      in coverage, including obtaining direction-finding equipment,
      digital recording systems, asset-tracking communications, use of
      commercial VHF services, and digital selective calling services
      that meet or exceed Global Maritime Distress and Safety System
      requirements adopted under the International Convention for the
      Safety of Life at Sea [see 33 U.S.C. 1602 and notes thereunder];
        "(6) identify the number of VHF-FM radios equipped with digital
      selective calling sold to United States boaters;
        "(7) list all reported marine accidents, casualties, and
      fatalities occurring in areas with existing communications gaps
      or failures, including incidents associated with gaps in VHF-FM
      coverage or digital selected calling capabilities and failures
      associated with inadequate communications equipment aboard the
      involved vessels during calendar years 1997 and thereafter;
        "(8) identify existing systems available to close all
      identified marine safety gaps before January 1, 2003, including
      expeditious receipt and response by appropriate Coast Guard
      operations centers to VHF-FM digital selective calling distress
      signal; and
        "(9) identify actions taken to-date to implement the
      recommendations of the National Transportation Safety Board in
      its Report No. MAR-99-01."
      Pub. L. 98-557, Sec. 9, Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 2862, required
    Secretary of department in which Coast Guard was operating to use
    such sums as necessary, from amounts appropriated for operation and
    maintenance of Coast Guard, to establish helicopter rescue swimming
    program for purpose of training selected Coast Guard personnel in
    rescue swimming skills, prior to repeal by Pub. L. 104-324, title
    II, Sec. 213(b), Oct. 19, 1996, 110 Stat. 3915.
      Pub. L. 97-322, title I, Sec. 113, Oct. 15, 1982, 96 Stat. 1585,
    as amended by Pub. L. 100-448, Sec. 30(b), Sept. 28, 1988, 102
    Stat. 1850, provided that: "The Commandant of the Coast Guard shall
    review Coast Guard policies and procedures for towing and salvage
    of disabled vessels in order to further minimize the possibility of
    Coast Guard competition or interference (other than by the Coast
    Guard Auxiliary) with private towing activities or other commercial
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