As of Monday 13 August, 2018, US yacht owners can register their yachts - above 300 GT - with a US flag.
"This has been a significant issue that the US Superyacht Association (USSA) has spent nearly a decade working to correct," said Kate Pearson, USSA Chair and VP of business development of Safe Harbor Marinas.
"We are thrilled to have been an integral part of helping to finally make it a reality and are pleased that yacht owners will no longer be chased from American shores to other countries to flag their vessels."
Until now, under a US law dating back to 1920, a yacht was defined as a vessel with a maximum volume of 300 GT. American owners of yachts above 300 GT could only fly the US flag if they registered their yacht as a commercial vessel, subjected to different operational and construction standards than recreational vessels.
In recent years a few owners had pursued personal exemptions, but the process was long and expensive and far from ideal for most superyacht owners.
M/Y Freedom - one of only two superyachts currently flying the US flag
"I am very pleased that the President has signed legislation that will increase the number of large recreational vessels which fly the US flag. This will lead to more US jobs in the ship repair and supporting industries." said Congressman Duncan Hunter, representing California's 50th District and chair of the subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.
"The economic impact of more large yachts flagging US could be significant, as these large vessels will now provide more high profile opportunities for American crew, keep yachts traveling in US waters, and spending more time in our repair and refit yards," added Kitty McGowan, president of the USSA.
American yacht owners are similarly delighted. Tilman J. Fertitta, owner of the Houston Rockets and Landry's Restaurants, and star of the TV show Billion Dollar Buyer commented, "American yacht owners can now proudly proclaim their citizenship on their yachts. Thank you to all those that made this possible and to President Trump for eliminating over 50 years of bureaucratic red tape. This is truly an historic day for American yacht owners and the yachting industry."
Tilman J. Fertitta
"Getting this accomplished wouldn't have been possible without the vision and support of Mr. Fertitta, an American yachtsman now building his fifth yacht, and his team, who wanted nothing more than to register his yacht in the United States," continued McGowan.
"This legislative action, spearheaded by Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah, is the icing on the cake that dozens of volunteers from our organization have been working on for years and is evidence that cooperative work between both the private and public sectors can truly effect positive change for our industry in the United States."
A US Large Yacht Code is now being developed by the US Coast Guard, due to come into effect in 2020 and, in the meantime, private yachts over 300 GT that are MCA compliant will be able to fly the US flag.
"We look forward to continuing our efforts with the U.S. Coast Guard to help develop and establish the new U.S. flag registry as the best in the world, said Jay Dayton, USSA Advocacy Co-Chair."
Incorporated in 2006, the USSA is a non-profit trade association with the mission to promote and support the US superyacht industry and its members through advocacy, marketing and education.