The arrival of the USNS Apache this week at Penn’s Landing on the Delaware River reminded me of the Naval Vessel Protection Zone. As I strolled the dock I noticed how close some of the curious recreational boaters were getting to the Navy Ocean going tug. Apparently a lot of recreational boaters are not aware of the security laws that could cost them a lot of money. Even some of the commercial tour boats which require USCG licensed captains were coming extremely close.
In light of new security measures brought about by the events of September 11, 2001, it is critical that all boaters be aware of and comply with new homeland security measures set forth by federal, state and local governments. These should include, but are not limited to:
- keeping a safe prescribed distance from military and commercial ships
- avoiding commercial port operations areas,
- observing all security zones,
- following guidelines for appropriate conduct such as not stopping or anchoring beneath bridges or in a channel, and
- observing and reporting suspicious activity to proper authorities.
Do not approach within 100 yards of any U.S. naval vessel. If you need to pass within 100 yards of a U.S. naval vessel in order to ensure a safe passage in accordance with the Navigation Rules, you must contact the U.S. naval vessel or the Coast Guard escort vessel on VHF-FM channel 16.
You must operate at minimum speed within 500 yards of any U.S. naval vessel and proceed as directed by the Commanding Officer or the official patrol.
Violations of the Naval Vessel Protection Zone are a felony offense, punishable by up to 6 years in prison and/or up to $250,000 in fines.
Boaters Can Help Keep Our Waterways Safe and Secure…
Keep your distance from all military, cruise line, or commercial shipping! Do not approach within 100 yards, and slow to minimum speed within 500 yards of any U.S. naval vessel. Violators of the Naval Vessel Protection Zone face 6 years in prison and a $250,000 fine, not to mention a quick and severe response. Approaching certain other commercial vessels may result in an immediate boarding.
Observe and avoid all security zones. Avoid commercial port operation areas, especially those that involve military, cruise line or petroleum facilities. Observe and avoid other restricted areas near dams, power plants, etc. Violators will be perceived as a threat, and will face a quick, determined and severe response.
Do not stop or anchor beneath bridges or in the channel. If you do, expect to be boarded by law enforcement officials.
Keep a sharp eye out for anything that looks peculiar or out of the ordinary. Report all activities that seem suspicious to the local authorities, the Coast Guard and the port or marina security. Do not approach or challenge those acting in a suspicious manner.
Safer boaters help reduce public demands by permitting Marine Patrols to focus their limited resources on Homeland Security.
For more information on security zones and how you can help, call the Coast Guard at 800-368-5647 or go to the USCG website at http://www.uscgboating.org/