46 USC 3316 - Classification societies

(a) Each department, agency, and instrumentality of the United States Government shall recognize the American Bureau of Shipping as its agent in classifying vessels owned by the Government and in matters related to classification, as long as the Bureau is maintained as an organization having no capital stock and paying no dividends. The Secretary and the Secretary of Transportation each shall appoint one representative (except when the Secretary is the Secretary of Transportation, in which case the Secretary shall appoint both representatives) who shall represent the Government on the executive committee of the Bureau. The Bureau shall agree that the representatives shall be accepted by it as active members of the committee. The representatives shall serve without compensation, except for necessary traveling expenses.
(1) The Secretary may delegate to the American Bureau of Shipping or another classification society recognized by the Secretary as meeting acceptable standards for such a society, for a vessel documented or to be documented under chapter 121 of this title, the authority to
(A) review and approve plans required for issuing a certificate of inspection required by this part;

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(B) conduct inspections and examinations; and
(C) issue a certificate of inspection required by this part and other related documents.
(2) The Secretary may make a delegation under paragraph (1) to a foreign classification society only
(A) to the extent that the government of the foreign country in which the society is headquartered delegates authority and provides access to the American Bureau of Shipping to inspect, certify, and provide related services to vessels documented in that country; and
(B) if the foreign classification society has offices and maintains records in the United States.
(3) When an inspection or examination has been delegated under this subsection, the Secretarys delegate
(A) shall maintain in the United States complete files of all information derived from or necessarily connected with the inspection or examination for at least 2 years after the vessel ceases to be certified; and
(B) shall permit access to those files at all reasonable times to any officer, employee, or member of the Coast Guard designated
(i) as a marine inspector and serving in a position as a marine inspector; or
(ii) in writing by the Secretary to have access to those files.

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(1) A classification society (including an employee or agent of that society) may not review, examine, survey, or certify the construction, repair, or alteration of a vessel in the United States unless
(A) the society has applied for approval under this subsection and the Secretary has reviewed and approved that society with respect to the conduct of that society under paragraph (2); or
(B) the society is a full member of the International Association of Classification Societies.
(2) The Secretary may approve a person for purposes of paragraph (1) only if the Secretary determines that
(A) the vessels surveyed by the person while acting as a classification society have an adequate safety record; and
(B) the person has an adequate program to
(i) develop and implement safety standards for vessels surveyed by the person;
(ii) make the safety records of the person available to the Secretary in an electronic format;
(iii) provide the safety records of a vessel surveyed by the person to any other classification society that requests those records for the purpose of conducting a survey of the vessel; and
(iv) request the safety records of a vessel the person will survey from any classification society that previously surveyed the vessel.