Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


In 1965 Congress passed the ocean Research Vessel Act (ORVA) with the purpose of encouraging the nation's efforts in oceanographic studies. Section 4 of the ORVA states that "scientific personnel on an oceanographic research vessel shall not be considered seamen under the provisions of title 53 of the Revised Statues...". As a result of a literal interpretation of this wording, the Courts have ruled that scientific personnel are excluded from the beneficial remedies afforded all other seamen under the Jones Act. Some courts have also denied an injured scientist "seaman status" under the general maritime law. This paper argues that Congress never intended to exclude scientists from the statutory protection of the Jones Act, and that this inequitable circumstance has arisen due to faulty interpretation of the ORVA's legislative history. Scientists on research vessels work in a hazardous environment. They are exposed to the "perils of the sea" to the same degree as all other blue water seamen. The paper calls for Congressional re-evaluation of the ORVA, with the purpose of amending Section 4, in order to clarify its original meaning and ensure an injured scientist the same remedies afforded all seamen.