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U.S. Department of State

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Notice to Research Vessel Operators No. 66
(Revision No. 1)

Subject: Post Cruise Obligations
Released by the Department of State, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, September 27, 1991.

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The United States has always emphasized the need to provide data results and final reports to the coastal states that have granted permission to conduct marine scientific research. UNOLS, the National Academy of Sciences, and the Department of State agreed in 1979 to institute a procedure for complying with post-cruise obligations. In March 1983, President Reagan proclaimed a U.S. exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and recognized the right of other coastal states to exercise jurisdiction over marine scientific research within 200 nautical miles of their coasts. The concept of the EEZ has been recognized as a valid part of customary international law by the International Court of Justice, and mandatory sharing of data results is a universally accepted requirement embodied in the EEZ concept.

The purpose of issuing a revised notice on post-cruise obligations is to reiterate the instructions, which will hopefully result in better compliance. Also, the consequences of non-compliance have become more serious, owing to more vigorous attempts by this office to obtain 100 percent compliance in a more timely manner. The cooperation of all researchers in foreign waters is required to ensure continued U.S. access to those areas.

Post Cruise Obligations

Within 30 days after completing a research cruise, the chief scientist must complete a Preliminary Cruise Report Form [Adobe pdf reader/html conversion pdf file], attach a page-sized track chart, and submit the materials to the following:

Research Vessel Clearance Officer
OES/OA Room 5805
U.S. Department of State
Washington DC 20520

Since the Preliminary Cruise Report Form is our first communication back to the foreign coastal state granting clearance, the Form should be submitted on institution letterhead. Incomplete and illegible forms will be subject to rejection by the Department of State.

The Form must clearly state when (Month, Year) various data, analyses and reports will be submitted to the Department of State (eg. each cruise at a minimum should provide data results and a detailed final report on the research project).

If granted clearance from one of the following countries, the chief scientist must provide multiple copies of the cruise materials: Bahamas (3), Brazil (2), Columbia (2) Dominican Republic (3), Denmark (2), Ecuador (2), France (2), Hague Caribbean Countries (5), Mexico (4).

The chief scientist will be expected to provide all post-cruise materials by the deadlines he/she provides. Every precaution should be made to assure timely delivery of the materials. Any delay in delivery must be reported to the Department of State in writing, providing both explanation and revised deadlines (Month, Year).

The clearance agreement is made with the Foreign Ministry of the coastal state, and even though copies of data and samples may have been supplied directly to a participant from the coastal state, all materials must also be forwarded to the Foreign Ministry through the Department of State and our Embassy in the coastal state. Consequently, post cruise materials should always be submitted to the Department of State. On occasion, scientists may prefer to mail bulky data samples or tapes directly to a foreign scientific institution or agency, which is permissible, and in some cases preferable, but it is extremely important that copies of the letter of transmittal be sent to the Department of State. Likewise, if data has been posted on a public website, the chief scientist must provide the URL (web address) in a formal letter to the Department of State, indicating a point of contact for the data.

Should the chief scientist fail to submit post-cruise materials or fail to notify the Department of State of a delay in delivery, the Department of State will not process any subsequent requests for foreign clearance for that scientist. This action is necessary to ensure complete compliance and to protect other scientists who may wish to gain access to conduct research in the same areas. It must be remembered that the clearance agreement is between the United States and the coastal state. Failure to provide copies of all data, results and reports is grounds for the coastal state to deny access to the United States to conduct research, and such denials may not be limited to a specific scientist, vessel or institution.


The bureaucratic implications of this notice are obvious and necessary owing to the tremendous amount of post cruise materials which must be dealt with. All researchers will be expected to contribute to the systematic handling of this material by submitting all post cruise materials according to prescribed schedules. If you are not consciously striving to assist in the provision of this material to the coastal states, then you are potentially jeopardizing access to foreign waters for U.S. scientists, including yourself.

Our overall objective is to ensure continued access for U.S. researchers to foreign waters. Compliance with post cruise obligations is a very small cost to ensure this access, and may result in less burdensome obligations being imposed. Your cooperation with this procedure is essential. For additional information regarding post cruise obligations, please consult "UNOLS Handbook for International Operations of U.S. Scientific Research Vessels".

Questions regarding Post Cruise Obligations should be directed to:

R/V Clearance Officer
OES/OA Room 5805
U.S. Department of State
Washington DC 20520
Telephone: 202-647-4935
Fax: 202-647-1106

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