The R/V David Folger will be a documented vessel, meaning essentially that it will be registered. Vessel documentation is one of the oldest functions of the U.S. government, dating back to the 11th Act of the First Congress. Documentation provides conclusive evidence of nationality for international purposes, provides for unhindered commerce between the states, and admits vessels to certain restricted trades, such as coastwise trade and the fisheries.
The U.S. Coast Guard assigns all documented vessels an “official number,” which is somewhat like the VIN number in a car. The official number is preceded by the abbreviation “NO.” and must be marked in block-type Arabic numerals at least three inches high on some clearly visible interior structural part of the hull. The number must be permanently affixed so that alteration, removal, or replacement would be obvious and cause some scarring or damage to the surrounding hull area. Today the USCG notified us that the Folger’s official number will be 1238983.
Of course, it has to pass inspection first!