Admiralty & Claims
The Admiralty and Claims Division (Code 15) has worldwide responsibility for processing different types of claims under various statutes and regulations. Code 15 processes approximately 45,000 claims each year, with claims paid and recovered totaling $60-$70 million.
Code 15 is comprised of the Headquarters and Admiralty Units at the Washington Navy Yard, D.C.; a Tort Claims Unit (TCU) in Norfolk, VA; a Personnel Claims Unit (PCU) in Norfolk, VA; and three Medical Care Recovery Units (MCRU), one each in Norfolk, VA, Pensacola, FL, and San Diego, CA.
Code 15 is the principal advisor to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy on Claims Policy and Tort/Admiralty Litigation matters; advisor to the Navy and other U.S. Government agencies on Maritime Law matters; certifies closest possible compliance for lights, day shapes, and sound signals on DoN vessels when they are unable to fully comply with 72 COLREGS; coordinates issues with claims, litigation, and transportation offices within DoD, DoJ, Department of State (DOS) and the carrier industry; and Responds to Congressional inquiries and requests for information for tort litigation purposes from DoD.
Code 15 is also the custodian and designated release authority for all command investigations convened pursuant to Chapter II of the Manual of the Judge Advocate General conducted prior to December 1995, and all litigation report investigations, including Chapter XI Admiralty Letter Reports and Dual-Purpose Investigations. Code 15 is not the custodian or release authority for command investigations convened after December 1995 nor investigations involving breaches of classified information or information security regulations maintained by the Chief of Naval Operations (N09N).
As the manager of the Navy Claims System, Code 15 develops and implements claims policy for the Judge Advocate General (JAG) and the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV), and processes all claims brought for or against the Navy under the following statutes:
- Suits in Admiralty Act (SIAA), 46 U.S.C. Chapter 309 – Conditional waiver of U.S. sovereign immunity for damages arising from incidents within admiralty jurisdiction. Navy may settle administrative claims up to $15,000,000;
- Public Vessels Act (PVA, 46 U.S.C. Chapter 311 – Conditional waiver of U.S. sovereign immunity for damages caused by a public vessel and for compensation for towage and salvage services rendered to public vessels. Navy may settle administrative claims up to $15,000,000;
- Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), 28 U.S.C. §§ 1346(b), 2671-2680 – Limited waiver of U.S. sovereign immunity for damages for personal injury, death or property damage caused by negligence of Federal employees acting within the scope of employment. Does not include claims within admiralty jurisdiction. Settlements by JAG exceeding $500,000 require approval by the Department of Justice (DoJ);
- Military Claims Act (MCA), 10 U.S.C. § 2733 – Similar to FTCA, but applies worldwide (FTCA does not); includes active duty military medical malpractice claims filed under the Richard Stayskal Act/Section 731 of the FY2020 NDAA; no right to sue. JAG settlement authority is $100,000; SECNAV has unlimited settlement authority;
- Foreign Claims Act (FCA), 10 U.S.C. § 2734 – Compensation for inhabitants of foreign countries for property damage, personal injury or death occurring outside the United States and caused by either members or civilians of U.S. Armed Forces or noncombat activities of these Forces in foreign countries. JAG settlement authority is $100,000; SECNAV has unlimited settlement authority;
- Military Personnel and Civilian Employees' Claims Act (PCA), 31 U.S.C. § 3721 – Gratuitous act to compensate Navy and Marine Corps military and civilians for loss, damage or destruction of personal property "incident to service;"
- Federal Claims Collection Act, 31 U.S.C. § 3711 – Code 15's TCU recovers from tortfeasors for damage to Navy property and deposits money into appropriate accounts as required by law, and Code 15's PCU recovers from carriers, contractors and insurers for payments made under the PCA to Navy and Marine Corps personnel for loss of or damage to their personal property during government-contracted shipment pursuant to military orders;
- Medical Care Recovery Act (MCRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2651-2653; also 10 U.S.C. § 1095 – Code 15's MCRUs recover from third-party tortfeasors and insurers for medical expenditures for Navy and Marine Corps active duty, retirees and their dependents. Money collected by the MCRUs is returned to the Medical Treatment Facility (MTF) where care was provided or returned to TRICARE for care provided outside of an MTF and paid for by TRICARE;
- Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552 and Privacy Act, 5 U.S.C. § 552a – Code 15 serves as the custodian and release authority for command investigations conducted prior to December 1995 and all litigation report investigations.
Supports the DoJ and U.S. Attorneys in tort and admiralty litigation involving Navy activities or personnel.