Jones Act and seized vessels

Hello all
I have a question for the legal minds here. There used be a rule/law whereby a vessel seized on a drug trade would obtain Jones act status - think any required mods would have to be performed at a US shipyard. Not sure if this rule/law still exists.
Question: Does this extend to any vessel seized due to (convicted) criminal act(s)? Just curious - not implying there was any criminal conduct on part of the crew or the managers/owners of the Dali.

The containership M/V National Glory became Jones Act qualified due to drug seizure and government auction. As I recall she went to a shipyard in China for some extensive refit work. Work done was not required to be at any US Shipyard. The only thing to be mindful of is the amount of steel renewal. There are limits.

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The Jones Act build requirement exception you are talking about is for any vessel that is OWNED by the US Government.

When a vessel is forfeited to the US government by virtue of civil forfeiture (typically for carrying drugs) it becomes OWNED by the US Government, and therefore Jones Act qualified. When the Government sells it at auction the Jones Act qualification remains with it, so long as it is not sold foreign.

I was once on such a vessel after it was sold by the US Government following a drug seizure. It became the Sunmar Sea (Norwegian owned through Norwegian- American frontmen) and was rebuilt in Norway or Korea. It later became the Coastal Sea. She was retired a few years ago.

Another Jones Act exception is under the “Wreck Act”.
If a foreign built vessel is wrecked in the US, and then restored in the US at a cost of a certain % of value (as I seem to recall it may be 50%), then the vessel can become Jones Act qualified.

Once upon a time I towed an American built barge that lost its Jones Act status when it was sold Canadian, but regained its Jones Act status when it was wrecked and rebuilt in the US.

A foreign built vessel can als be “naturalized” by an act of Congress. This occurred in 2018 with America’s Finest, a US built factory trawler, with too many foreign steel components.

I once owned a Canadian built fishing vessel that had been “naturalized” by an Act of Congress.

If Dali were to be forfeited to US Government and it was sold, it could become Jones Act qualified.

Or if Dali were declared “wrecked” and rebuilt in the US under US ownership, it might become Jones Act qualified.


Oh yes the famouse case of a newbuilt Factory Trawler that almost became scrapped before catching a single fish:

Not “too much foreign steel” but the steel had been “bent” in a foreign country:

More details here:

Not a seized vessel, but the Italian crewed Liberian flagged tanker Sea Tiger was hit by lightning while discharging crude in 1979 Texas. She was towed up to Chelsea, MA rebuilt and reflagged as the Overseas Boston and ran Jones Act until eventually phasing out as a single hull tanker.

Old Teco Bulker Sheila McDevitt was an ex-foreign bulker that was seized for drugs onboard and sold into the Jones Act trade.

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So the punishment for drug smuggling is to become Jones Act compliant if you are a ship?

A fate worse than death to be abused and patched together for the next one hundred years


I believe the Mississippi Enterprise (ex Sheila McDevitt, ex-Bulk Princess, ex-Rosina Topic) was scrapped in Aliaga, Turkey a few years ago.