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Security zones around cruise ships
by Dave Timmerman


April 27, 2005

In case no one has been informed, or this news skipped over you, I thought it best to get this out to Sitnews.

Most locals are well aware of the security on the cruise ship docks during the summer. It is hard not to notice the big orange barriers, guards in orange vests, or the fact that the general public in not allowed to drive onto the dock anymore (among other things).

Well there is yet another set of rules and regulations being proposed by the USCG. This new set of rules mandates a "security zone" be in place around High Capacity Passenger (HCP) vessels (know to us common folk as cruise ships).

I have copied and pasted a summary of the proposed rule below.

[Federal Register: March 9, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 45)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 11595-11598]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

This proposed rule would control vessel movement in a regulated area surrounding high capacity passenger (HCP) vessels to address security concerns. It would prohibit persons or vessels from entering a security zone that extends 100 yards around and under HCP vessels that are underway and 25 yards around and under HCP vessels that are anchored or moored within the Coast Guard District 17 zone, except as noted in this regulation.

For the purpose of this regulation, HCP vessels are those vessels of U.S. or foreign registry, certificated to carry 500 passengers or more. Public vessels are vessels owned, chartered, or operated by the United States, or by a State or political subdivision thereof. For the purpose of this regulation, Alaska Marine Highway vessels are not HCP vessels. The passengers and crew of the respective HCP vessel are persons not subject to this regulation. Public vessels, vessels working on behalf and at the direction of the HCPs (i.e., local transport of passengers, tender vessels, etc.), or vessels granted waiver or permission by the 17th Coast Guard District Commander, cognizant Captain of the Port (COTP), or on-scene official patrol are vessels not subject to this regulation.

Vessels requesting to enter the security zone must contact the Coast Guard District 17 Commander, his or her designated representatives, the cognizant COTP, or on-scene official patrol on VHF-FM channel 16 or 13. The Coast Guard District 17 Commander, the cognizant COTP, or on-scene official patrol may permit vessels to enter the security zone if it is necessary to ensure a safe passage in accordance with the Navigation Rules or for other good cause. Similarly, all vessels anchored in a designated anchorage area may be permitted to remain at anchor within 100 yards of a passing HCP vessel.

All vessels operating within 250 yards of a HCP vessel in the RNA must proceed at the minimum speed necessary to maintain a safe course, unless required to maintain speed by the navigation rules. All persons and vessels within 250 yards of a HCP vessel in the RNA must be attentive to and comply with the orders of the District Commander, cognizant COTP, or designated on-scene official patrol. Link (there seems to be trouble with this link from time to time---if it does not work you can go to--- and in the search area space for 2005 (Volume 70) Only type into that space page 11595 --- this should take you to the page you need.

Suffice it to say you will no longer be allowed to have a boat (or plane, for that matter), anywhere near a cruise ship without first contacting the US Coast Guard and getting permission. A ship docked next to Thomas Basin could block off the entrance to Thomas Basin. Part of City Float would be affected. Vessels wanting to utilize Ryus, Daly and Hansen Floats would all be subject to this rule while cruise ships were in. We all know how busy Tongass Narrows can get during the summer. There is only so much Narrows out there. If these zones were to go into effect it could greatly decrease the area that would be usable without first getting permission.

There has already been a first round of comment where only 19 entities supplied comment to the USCG. These comments, and the request for more time to respond, prompted the USCG to extend the comment period until MAY 27th. That is only one month people. I copied and pasted the information on where to send your comments and who to direct them to, along with a few more things---

Request for Comments

On March 9, 2005, D17 (MOC) published a Federal Register Notice seeking comments on the proposed Regulated Navigation Area and Security Zones; High Capacity Passenger Vessels in Alaska (70 FR 11595). The initial comment period was 30 days. A total of 19 public comments were received by the April 8, 2005, deadline, and all of them raised important issues on possible effects of the proposed rule.

Additionally, others persons commented to the Coast Guard and said they needed more time. To ensure the Coast Guard receives comments from interested parties and to allow more time for dissemination of the proposed rule, the Coast Guard is re-opening the public comment period for an additional 30 days.

We encourage you to submit comments and related material pertaining specifically to this rulemaking by submitting comments and related material. If you do so, please include your name and address, identify the docket number for this rulemaking (CGD17-05), and give the reason for each comment. You may submit your comments and material by mail, hand delivery, fax, or electronic means to the project officer at the addresses or phone numbers listed under FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, but please submit your comments and material by only one means. If you submit them by mail or hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8\1/2\ by 11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you would like to know that your submission reached us, please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will consider all comments and material received during the comment period. The recommendation made by this office may be affected by comments received.

Public Meeting

We do not plan to hold a public meeting. However, you may submit a request for a public meeting by writing to District 17 (MOC) at the address under ADDRESSES explaining why one would be beneficial. If we determine that a public meeting would aid this rulemaking, we will hold one at a time and place announced by a separate notice in the Federal Register.

Dated: April 18, 2005.
James C. Olson,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard District.

DATES: Comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on or before May 27, 2005.

ADDRESSES: You may mail comments and related material to District 17 (MOC), 709 West 9th St., Room 753, Juneau, Alaska 99801.

District 17 (MOC) maintains the public docket for this rulemaking. Comments and related materials received from the public will become part of this docket and will be available for inspection or copying at District 17 (MOC), 709 West 9th St., Room 753, Juneau, Alaska 99801 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: LT Matthew York, District 17 (MOC), 709 West 9th St., Room 753, Juneau, Alaska 99801, (907) 463-2821."

So there it is Ketchikan (and any other communities that could be effected by this new rule). Get your comments in. I realize that there is a lot of information to trudge through here...but really it is just the tip of the iceberg (and don't be suprised if we have security zones around them someday too!).

Dave Timmerman
Ketchikan, AK - USA



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