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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of March 26, 2020

Title 32Subtitle AChapter VSubchapter BPart 536 → Subpart H

Title 32: National Defense

Subpart H—Maritime Claims

§536.117   Statutory authority for maritime claims.
§536.118   Related statutes for maritime claims.
§536.119   Scope for maritime claims.
§536.120   Claims payable as maritime claims.
§536.121   Claims not payable as maritime claims.
§536.122   Limitation of settlement of maritime claims.
§536.123   Limitation of liability for maritime claims.
§536.124   Settlement authority for maritime claims.

§536.117   Statutory authority for maritime claims.

The Army Maritime Claims Settlement Act (AMCSA) (10 U.S.C. 4801-04, 4806, as amended) authorizes the Secretary of the Army or his designee to administratively settle or compromise admiralty and maritime claims in favor of, and against, the United States.

§536.118   Related statutes for maritime claims.

(a) The AMCSA permits the settlement of claims that would ordinarily fall under the Suits in Admiralty Act (SIAA), 46 U.S.C. app. 741-752; the Public Vessels Act (PVA), 46 U.S.C. app. 781-790; or the Admiralty Extension Act (AEA), 46 U.S.C. app. 740. Outside the United States the AMCSA may be used to settle admiralty claims in lieu of the Military Claims Act or Foreign Claims Act. Within the United States, filing under the AMCSA is not mandatory for causes of action as it is for the SIAA or PVA.

(b) Similar maritime claims settlement authority is exercised by the Department of the Navy under 10 U.S.C. 7363 and 7621-23 and by the Department of the Air Force under 10 U.S.C. 9801-9804 and 9806.

§536.119   Scope for maritime claims.

The AMCSA applies worldwide and includes claims that arise on high seas or within the territorial waters of a foreign country. At 10 U.S.C. 4802 it provides for the settlement or compromise of claims for:

(a) Damage caused by a vessel of, or in the service of, the Department of the Army (DA) or by other property under the jurisdiction of the DA.

(b) Compensation for towage and salvage service, including contract salvage, rendered to a vessel of, or in the service of, the DA or other property under the jurisdiction of the DA.

(c) Damage that is maritime in nature and caused by tortious conduct of U.S. military personnel or federal civilian employees, an agent thereof, or property under the Army's jurisdiction.

§536.120   Claims payable as maritime claims.

A claim is cognizable under this subpart if it arises in or on a maritime location, involves some traditional maritime nexus or activity, and is caused by the wrongful act or omission of a member of the U.S. Army, Department of Defense (DOD) or DA civilian employee, or an agent thereof, while acting within the scope of employment. This class of claims includes, but is not limited to:

(a) Damage to a ship, boat, barge, or other watercraft;

(b) An injury that involves a ship, boat, barge, or other watercraft;

(c) Damage to a wharf, pier, jetty, fishing net, farm facilities or other structures in, on, or adjacent to any body of water;

(d) Damage or injury on land or on water arising under the AEA and allegedly due to operation of an Army-owned or leased ship, boat, barge, or other watercraft;

(e) An injury that occurs on board an Army ship, boat, barge or other watercraft; and

(f) Crash into water of an Army aircraft.

§536.121   Claims not payable as maritime claims.

Under this subpart, claims are not payable if they:

(a) Are listed in §§536.42, 536.43, 536.44, 536.45 (except at (e) and (k)), and 536.46;

(b) Are not maritime in nature;

(c) Are not in the best interests of the United States, are contrary to public policy, or are otherwise contrary to the basic intent of the governing statute, for example, claims for property loss or damage or personal injury or death by inhabitants of unfriendly foreign countries or by individuals considered to be unfriendly to the United States. When a claim is considered not payable for the reasons stated in this section, it will be forwarded for appropriate action to the Commander USARCS, along with the recommendations of the responsible claims office.

(d) Are presented by a national, or a corporation controlled by a national, of a country at war or engaged in armed conflict with the United States, or any country allied with such enemy country, unless the appropriate settlement authority determines that the claimant is and, at the time of incident, was friendly to the United States. A prisoner of war or an interned enemy alien is not excluded or barred from bringing a claim for damage, loss, or destruction of personal property while held in the custody of the government if the claim is otherwise payable.

(e) Are for damages or injuries that a receiving State should pay for under an international agreement. See §536.34(c).

§536.122   Limitation of settlement of maritime claims.

(a) Within the United States the period of completing an administrative settlement under the AMCSA is subject to the same time limitation as that for beginning suit under the SIAA or PVA; that is, a two-year period from the date the cause of the action accrued. The claimant must have agreed to accept the settlement and it must be approved for payment by the Secretary of the Army or other approval authority prior to the end of such period. The presentation of a claim, or its consideration by the DA, neither waives nor extends the two-year limitation period and the claimant should be so informed, in writing, when the claim is acknowledged. See §536.28.

(b) For causes of action under the AEA, filing an administrative claim is mandatory. However, suit is required under the two-year time limit applicable to the SIAA and PVA, even though the AEA provides that no suit shall be filed under six months after filing a claim.

(c) For causes of action arising outside the United States, there is no time limitation for completing an administrative settlement.

§536.123   Limitation of liability for maritime claims.

For admiralty claims arising within the United States under the provisions of the Limitation of Shipowners' Liability Act, 46 U.S.C. app. 181-188, in cases alleging injury or loss due to negligent operation of its vessel, the United States may limit its liability to the value of its vessel after the incident from which the claim arose. The act requires filing of an action in federal District Court within six months of receiving written notice of a claim. Therefore, USARCS, or the Chief Counsel, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (COE), or his designee, must be notified within 10 working days of the receipt of any maritime claim arising in the United States or on the high seas out of the operation of an Army vessel, including pleasure craft owned by the United States. USARCS or Chief Counsel, COE will coordinate with the Department of Justice (DOJ) as to whether to file a limitation of liability action.

§536.124   Settlement authority for maritime claims.

(a) The Secretary of the Army, the Army General Counsel as designee of the Secretary, or other designee of the Secretary may approve any settlement or compromise of a claim in any amount. A claim settled or compromised in a net amount exceeding $500,000 will be investigated and processed and, if approved by the Secretary of the Army or his or her designee, will be certified to Congress for final approval.

(b) The Judge Advocate General (TJAG), The Assistant Judge Advocate General (TAJAG), the Commander USARCS, the Chief Counsel COE, or Division or District Counsel Offices are delegated authority to settle, such as to deny or approve payment in full or in part, any claim under this subpart regardless of the amount claimed, provided that any award does not exceed $100,000.

(c) A Staff Judge Advocate (SJA) or chief of a command claims service and heads of area claims offices (ACOs) are delegated authority to pay up to $50,000, regardless of the amount claimed, and to disapprove or make a final offer on a claim presented in an amount not exceeding $50,000.

(d) Authority to further delegate payment authority is set forth in §536.3(g)(1) of this part. For further discussion also related to settlement and approval authority see paragraph 2-69 of DA Pam 27-162.

(e) Where the claimed amount or potential claim damage exceeds $100,000 for COE claims or $50,000 for all others, Commander USARCS will be notified immediately, and be furnished a copy of the claim and a mirror file thereafter. See §536.30 and AR 27-20, paragraph 2-12.

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