(a) Except as in paragraph (b) of this section, this subchapter applies to each vessel of less than 100 gross tons that carries more than 150 passengers, or has overnight accommodations for more than 49 passengers, and that -
(1) Carries at least one passenger for hire;
(2) Is chartered with or without a crew provided or specified by the owner or the owner's representative; or
(3) If a submersible vessel, carries at least one passenger for hire; or
(4) Is a ferry carrying more than 150 passengers, or having overnight accommodations for more than 49 passengers.
For a vessel of less than 100 gross tons that carries 150 or less passengers or has overnight accommodations for 49 or less passengers, see subchapter T of this chapter.
(b) This subchapter does not apply to:
(1) A vessel operating exclusively on inland waters that are not navigable waters of the United States;
(2) An oceanographic research vessel;
(3) A boat forming part of a vessel's lifesaving equipment and that is not used for carrying passengers except in emergencies or during emergency drills;
(4) A vessel of a foreign country that is a party to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, 1974, as amended (SOLAS), to which the United States Government is currently a party, and which has on board a current valid SOLAS Passenger Ship Safety Certificate; or
(5) A vessel of a foreign country, whose government has inspection laws approximating those of the United States and which by its laws accords similar privileges to vessels of the United States, which has on board a current valid certificate of inspection, permitting the carrying of passengers, issued by its government.
(c) Unless otherwise provided, an existing vessel that is not required to comply with a requirement in this subchapter may comply with the regulation that was applicable to the vessel on March 10, 1996.
(d) A vessel required by this subchapter to meet applicable sections of subchapter H shall follow the phase-in schedule for certain equipment and requirements found in this subchapter.