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The Bureau of Navigation
was an agency of the U.S. government established in 1884 to enforce laws relating to the construction, equipment, operation, inspection, safety, and documentation of merchant vessels. (This organization is not to be confused with the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Navigation, founded in 1862 and renamed the Bureau of Naval Personnel in 1942.)
The Bureau of Navigation also investigated marine accidents and casualties; collected tonnage taxes and other navigation fees; and examined, certified and licensed merchant-vessel sailors.
When established, the bureau was a part of the Department of the Treasury
The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue...
. In 1903, the organization was transferred to the newly formed Department of Commerce and Labor. In 1913 that department was split in two and the bureau was assigned to the Department of Commerce. In 1932 it was combined with the Steamboat Inspection Service
The Steamboat Inspection Service was a United States agency created in 1852 to safeguard lives and property at sea. It merged with the Bureau of Navigation in 1932 to form the Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection which, in 1936, was reorganized into the Bureau of Marine Inspection and...
as the Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection.
In 1942, Executive Order 9083 transferred many functions to two other agencies. Merchant-vessel documentation was transferred to the Bureau of Customs. Functions relating to merchant-vessel inspection, safety of life at sea, and merchant-vessel personnel were transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard
The United States Coast Guard is a branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven U.S. uniformed services. The Coast Guard is a maritime, military, multi-mission service unique among the military branches for having a maritime law enforcement mission and a federal regulatory agency...
. The merchant vessel documention functions were also transferred to the Coast Guard in 1946.
The Bureau of Navigation and Steamboat Inspection was abolished as unnecessary and redundant by Reorganization Plan No. III of 1946, with all functions being absorbed by the Bureau of Customs and the U.S. Coast Guard.