I get all sorts of news alerts from various boating news outlets including the United States Coast Guard. As Hurricane Irene approaches, many of those alerts from the Coast Guard deal with Port conditions. Some Ports are under condition Whiskey, some X-Ray, some Yankee and others Zulu. So what do these mean?
First, they are directed at commercial ocean-going vessels and represent ongoing dialogue with the Captain of the Port (COTP). They are set up as a series of escalating conditions to keep the vessels and the Ports safe.
The measures taken for Whiskey and X-Ray are the same with the exception of deadlines for submitting “Remaining In Port Checklists”. The date and time that the checklists must be submitted by will be made known through Marine Safety Information Broadcasts (MSIB’s).
To enter, transit or remain within this safety zone, vessels must comply with the following requirements:
- Report Intentions to Marine Safety Office: All commercial vessels and ocean-going barges greater than 500 gross tons must advise the Captain of the Port of their intent to remain in port or depart.
- Closure of Departure/Arrival Windows: Ocean-going ships and barges over 500 gross tons departing the port must depart no later than 12 hours prior to the arrival of gale force winds.
- Cargo Operations/Bunkering: All transfer operations shall cease upon arrival of sustained 40 mph winds.
- Smaller Commercial Vessels Not Restricted by Draft: Smaller commercial vessels not restricted by draft, including fishing vessels, are asked to seek shelter outside the deep draft shipping channels and turning areas.
No vessels may enter, transit or remain within this safety zone without the permission of the Captain of the Port. The following additional requirements are in effect:
- Cease Cargo Operations: All transfer of cargo operations shall cease when wind speeds reach 40 mph.
- Vessels Desiring to Depart Port Must Arrange Immediate Departure: Movement of all vessels and barges over 500 gross tons desiring to depart the port must contact the Captain of the Port to arrange immediate departure.
- All Vessels Must be at Mooring Site and Follow Approved Remaining in Port Checklist:All commercial vessels and barges greater than 500 GT remaining in port must be at their mooring site in accordance with their “Remaining in Port Checklist” as approved by the Captain of the Port.
- Smaller Commercial Vessels Not Restricted by Draft:Smaller vessels not restricted by draft, including fishing vessels, are asked to seek shelter outside the deep draft shipping channels and turning areas.
- Vessels Bound for This Port: Vessels bound for this port are advised to seek an alternate destination.
Within 12 hours of expected gale force winds from, the COTP will set Port Condition Zulu. Future Port Conditions are set contingent upon the storm’s course and speed. Should the hurricane increase in speed, Condition Zulu may be set sooner.
Condition Zulu – Port Status: Closed
All movements require Captain of the Port approval.
Hurricane landfall predicted in 12Hrs.