Statement on Signing a Marine Safety and Seamen's Welfare Bill

August 27, 1983

Senate bill 46, which I have signed into law, is a major step forward in this administration's efforts to revitalize the United States merchant marine and shipping industry. The bill modernizes and simplifies the marine safety and seamen's welfare laws administered by the Coast Guard. This legislation is remarkable in that it culminates more than 50 years of effort to make these laws more understandable by the regulated public and by the administering agency.

The marine safety and seamen's welfare laws are currently compiled in title 46 of the United States Code. Title 46 is a confusing collection of statutes that have been enacted throughout the history of this nation. Some of the provisions date back to 1790 and were among the first laws passed by the Congress. Many of the provisions have outlived their usefulness. Those that are still relevant are poorly organized and confusing. Because of their complexity, these laws are difficult for the Coast Guard to administer. Individuals subject to the requirements are often unsure of their rights and obligations. Understanding these laws is a difficult task, even for an experienced maritime attorney. The Supreme Court has labeled these laws a ``maze of regulations.'' S. 46 eliminates this maze.

S. 46 represents a truly nonpartisan effort. Without the cooperation of both Houses of Congress, industry, labor, and the maritime bar, I would not be signing this bill today. This is an important step, but much still needs to be done to help the United States merchant marine and shipping industry revitalize itself. This is a priority goal of the Department of Transportation and of my administration. Therefore, I look forward to rapid enactment of the administration's maritime promotional, deregulatory, and reauthorization legislation.

I urge all elements of the maritime community to continue to work with my administration to develop creative solutions to the problems that affect this vital industry.

It is with great pleasure that I have signed this bill.

Note: As enacted, S. 46 is Public Law 98 - 89, approved August 26.