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1 Terr. Sea J. 143 (1990-1991)
The History of the Territorial Sea from a National Security Perspective

handle is hein.journals/ttsea1 and id is 159 raw text is: THE HISTORY OF THE TERRITORIAL SEA
Rear Admiral W.L. Schachte, Jr. *
Almost two hundred years ago, the United States declared a three nautical
mile territorial sea.' Until the mid-twentieth century, this conformed to the
internationally recognized breadth for territorial seas. In recent years, however,
the trend by most nation states has been towards expanded maritime claims,
leading to a new twelve nautical mile maximum for the territorial sea. Not-
withstanding this trend, the United States remained, until recently, at three
nautical miles.
The U.S. Navy was a proponent of this steady as she goes policy. Then,
beginning in the 1980s, the Navy and interagency positions began gradually to
shift. In December 1988, the Presidential Proclamation by President Reagan
extended the U.S. territorial sea for international law purposes from three to
twelve nautical miles! Why the change in policy?
This article attempts to explain the reasons for the change in U.S. policy from
a national security viewpoint. The justifications for coastal states to claim and
enforce a territorial sea around their coasts have generally not changed over
time. Those interests still include notions of neutrality, navigational safety,
pollution control, customs control, and national security. Modern conditions,
however, have required a rethinking of what breadth is adequate to protect the
* Commander, Naval Investigative Service Command. Rear Admiral Schachte, JAGC, U.S.
Navy, was formerly the Dept. of Defense/Joint Chiefs of Staff Representative for Ocean Policy
1. The declaration was necessitated by the war between Great Britain and France which broke
out in 1793. Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson notified the combatants that President
Washington had restrained his officers to act within three miles of shore by issuing the President's
Proclamation of Neutrality, April 22, 1793. See T. FULTON, THE SoVEREIGNv OF TIM SEA573-574
(1911). The following year the Congress acted to legislate the claim by adopting the Neutrality
Act of 1794. Id.
2. Proclamation No. 5928, 54 FED. REG. 777 (1989) [hereinafter Proclamation].

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