Concealed Carry on International Vessel in U.S. Waterway

Can a U.S. Citizen working in the maritime industry with a legal concealed carry license carry a firearm on board an international ship that is traveling in a United States Waterway? For example, a Great Lakes pilot conceal carrying on an international vessel that is traveling from Green Bay to Chicago.

Assuming that the pilot has a concealed carry license for the state/states they are operating in; Assuming the vessel stays within U.S. jurisdiction and doesn’t cross into Canada.

If the answer is no, what is the punishment? Who enforces the law, the U.S. or the Vessel’s Flag Nation? Can an international vessel legally detain a U.S. Citizen?

Oo boy that sounds like a bad idea. What reason would you have for needing to concealed carry anyway?

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You need to ask the Flag of the vessel for carrying a fire arm, and they can issue a dispensation to that vessel. You are on foreign territory once you step on that vessel.

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Exactly. I can understand wanting a rifle if you are going in heavy pirate areas but cannot think of an instance where one would need a small handgun concealed.

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Because ‘Merca… :roll_eyes:


I’m all for ‘Merica and CCW. I am one myself. I cannot however, for the life of me, figure out why a pilot would want to carry one.

It’s one thing to have to ask the flag for permission. It’s another to either A) get permission from the ship, or B) hide it from the ship and what happens when somebody notices.

Get dual citizenship. Until then, keep the ammunition separate from the… unit.

The ship can’t approve, they need Flag approval. That is standard in all Maritime Shipping Acts for Flag States. They have to issue for that vessel, an armed guard certificate or dispensation. This isn’t the wild west, there are rules. Follow them.

Way back in the day the Captain had a ship’s gun (pistol). It was kept locked in the captain’s safe. I saw him strap it on once when we knew we had stowaways onboard during the search. Later on the company changed its policies and the gun was removed.

If you want to test the ship’s terrorist response then go ahead.


Get a nice dress sword instead, you’ll look much more grown up.


Lot’s of answers here; some nearly on track others not. Let’s talk real life experiences… In 1982 I worked aboard an MSC ship, I purchased a S&W Model 39 which I definitely wanted to legally keep and take home. The Master of the vessel permitted the gun aboard provided it was in a locked case and given to him for safe keeping. I made one trip further on the ship and then sold the gun in the same state I purchased it in. ​(because NYS Gun laws sucked even back then and it would have been nearly impossible to get it home legally.)

As far as I can recall there no specific US regs regarding firearms aboard US vessels- just the Dangerous Weapon and small arms ammo citations in 46 CFR, What does this mean? That WITH the Master’s permission and assigned conditions you may be able to have a dangerous weapon aboard- of course company rules more often than not preclude this authority…

BTW- just for “off the record” Recently I was aboard a vessel (won’t say where, when, who or how) where the Master requested that I arm myself in the case of a specific job we were going to do- I had the option of either the vessel’s weapon or my own (my own of course being much better), The job fell through- so it was a non -issue…

see below:

It’s legal for U.S. mariners to carry firearms, but it may be impractical because of liability - Professional Mariner

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Maybe in a different Flag State- But aboard US Vessel? Incorrect I am afraid.


Merchant Shipping Act - Wikipedia

The standard ship’s articles of agreement says “no dangerous weapons” allowed aboard. AFAIK that only applies to the crew.

Presumably in the case of the pilot the captain’s or company policy would determine if it was allowed.

The post wasn’t asking about US Flagged, but Foreign.

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An unauthorized person bringing a weapon aboard ship would be a violation of ISPS code so it’d be a port state control issue. In the U.S. that’d be the USCG.


Technically correct. The ISSC would be issued by the Flag State, if the vessel is in breach of that certificate, with no dispensation, then the PSC could detain that vessel, because of the non-approval of carrying a weapon on-board. Flag is not the enforcement arm, PSC is, so yes PSC would raise the issue, and could detain.

What is the first rule of fight club? Geez :roll_eyes:


The purpose for concealed carrying would be having the firearm getting on and off the ship, for example, getting off in Chicago and having to travel through a high crime area to get back home. Leaving a gun in your car is irresponsible firearm ownership, even if its in a lock box.

If someone on the ship does notice, does the foreign flagged vessel have the permission to detain a US citizen, or do they call the US Coast Guard? Once you step off the vessel, you have not committed a crime in the US, so any US law enforcement has no reason to detain/arrest you.

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Territoriality gives a State exclusive authority to regulate persons within its borders. The exercise of this type of jurisdiction is dependent on the location of the conduct. So long as the conduct regulated falls within the territory of the State, it has jurisdiction. Thus a State may apply its laws to foreign flagged merchant ships while they are within its ports and internal waters, which are considered part of its territory.