As the U.S. Department of State recently issued a Travel Alert citing the possibility of European Terrorism, now is the perfect time to review your knowledge, and ensure you’re following security procedures when it comes to boating.
Naval Vessel Protection Zone
As part of the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and Maritime Transportation Act that was introduced in 2006, it is illegal to pass within 100 yards of any U.S. Naval, cruise ship, or commercial vessel. Within 500 yards of these vessels, your boat must be operated at minimum; both of these rules apply to vessels that are under way, docked, or anchored. Violators of the 100 yard approach law could be charged with a Federal Felony Offense punishable by up to $250,000 in fines and six years in prison.
USCG Security Zones
Boating security zones have been established at high risk water locations including beneath bridges; near locks, dams, and cruise ship docks; power plants; along with chemical, oil, and fueling depots which includes any commercial port activity. Under security zone regulations, you cannot anchor or dock near any of these areas as you’ll be in strict violation of USCG law.
Suspicious Boating Activity
When you’re operating an automobile, you have the duty to report an accident or potentially dangerous situation that develops on the road – the same applies to boating. If you suspect suspicious boating activity, it’s your obligation as a responsible boater to report those actions to:
America’s Waterway Watch (AWW), advises boaters to remember that “people are not suspicious, behavior is.”
Below are some scenarios which suggest attention is advisable:
- A boat not following general USCG navigation rules which could point to a Boater Under the Influence(BUI) or possibly a potential security risk
- A vessel that seems to be conducting surveillance of a security zone or one that is seemingly taken too many photographs
- Unattended vessels
- Vessels anchored in an unusual location
- Boaters who are diving in an unusual location
- Boaters tossing and retrieving articles from the water
- A vessel transferring cargo or people with another vessel
- A person running from a security zone that seems out of place
When boating, it’s important to also be aware of the current USCG Maritime Security (MARSEC) levels as designated by Homeland Security Advisory System (HSAS) as part of the Department of Homeland Security. A Level 1 rating corresponds to HSAS Threat Condition Green, Blue, and Yellow; Level 2 to Threat Condition Orange; and Level 3 to Threat Condition Red.
Part of being an international boater is complying with local Customs and Immigration Regulations. If you’re looking for this information about the Caribbean, Latin America, and northern South America, Seaworthy.com is a great reference source.
Flickr.com Photo Credit: Police Boat by Thomas Brightbill