IMPORTANT TO VESSEL OWNERS - EVERY AMERICAN VELSEL [sic] TO BE NUMBERED BY THE FIRST OF JULY - The Act of Congress approved July 24, 1856, chapter 268, section 13, requires that "The Director of the Bureau of Statistics shall prepare an annual statement of vessels registered, enrolled and licensed under the laws of the United States, together with the class, name, tonnage and place of registry of each vessel, and such other information as the Secretary of the Treasury shall deem proper to embody therein; and, to enable the said Director to furnish the information required, the Secretary of the Treasury shall have power, under such regulations as he shall prescribe, to establish and provide a system of numbering vessels so registered, enrolled and licensed, and each vessel so numbered shall have her number, deeply carved or otherwise permanently marked on her main beam: and that if at any time she shall cease to be so marked, such vessel shall no longer be recognized as a vessel of the United States.
"In accordance with the provisions of this act you are hereby instructed that, previous to granting a certificate of registry, of enrollment or license, or of license to any vessel of the United States, or previous to granting any clearance to any registered, enrolled or licensed vessel of the United States, July 1, 1868, her number must be marked on her main beam, in the master hereinafter prescribed, and indorsed (sic) upon the official documents relating to her.
"It is designed in the execution of this act that the owner or master of a vessel shall affix the official number awarded to his vessel at his own expense, and that no fees shall be exacted by officers of the customs for furnishing a certificate that the same has been done, nor for any other service in connection herewith.
"The list of vessels called for has been prepared by the Director of the Bureau of Statistics, and duplicate copies are furnished to you herewith.
"It contains, as far as can be ascertained at the present day, a complete list of all of the merchant vessels of the United States.
"To each of these vessels an official number has been awarded.
"To all sea-going vessels of 100 tons admeasurement, or over, the number consists of certain numerals and letters; to all other vessels the number consists of numerals only.
"The number is required to be marked in the following manner:
"On vessels whose main beam is of wood it shall either be carved or branded, in either case not less than three-eighths of an inch nor more than one-half of an inch in depth.
"On vessels whose main beam is of iron or other metal it shall be marked in oil paint: white if the beam is black; black if the beam is of any other color.
"The shape shall be a plain block Arabic numeral, thus: No. 2065.
"The size of each numeral composing the number shall in all cases be not less than three inches high.
"When the number consists partly of letters, the letters may not be marked upon the vessel, but they must always accompany the numerals where the vessel s name is mentioned upon any writing or document pertaining to her, and coming under the official supervision of any officer of the customs on or after July 1, 1868.
"The main beam of the vessel shall be taken to mean as follows.
"On vessels plying the Western rivers, the beam under the after side of the starboard forward hatch; and on all other vessels the beam under the forward side of the main hatch. The number should, when practicable, be marked after the tonnage mark, and should always be prefixed by the abbreviation "No." For example, on the ship Bombay of Bath, Me., the number would be marked upon her main beam, thus:
"Tonnage mark "Official number
955.13 No. 2,065"
To every vessel a number has been assigned, and from the above it will be seen that if the owners or masters have, on the first day of July, 1868, failed to comply with the instructions, such vessels will no longer be recognized as belonging to the United States, and will not be granted any clearance at any United States port.
[NOTE: This article describes the U.S. regulation which 1) requires registration of all vessels, 2) establishes the display of the official number on a specific spot on the vessel and 3) requires the publication of an official list of vessels, known as "The Annual List of Merchant Vessels of the United States," popularly known as "Merchant Vessels." It reminds all vessel owners and masters the "time is running out" for the registration and enumeration of U.S. vessels. Divers may wish to note that the location of the number on the boat is tightly defined and that the vessel can be positively identified by it - if the main beam still exists! ]