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The Maritime Minute is your 'one-stop' for the latest news and important updates from the commercial and recreational marine world. 

USCG MSIB – Bonnet Carre Spillway Opening

Waterway Status – VTS Measure MM 127 – 129 AHP LMR, Bonnet Carre Spillway Opening

Vessel Traffic Service Lower Mississippi River (VTS LMR), in  accordance with the Navigation Safety Regulations, Code of Federal  Regulations Title 33, Subpart 161.11, will establish a Vessel Traffic  Service (VTS) Measure for the waters of the Lower Mississippi River from  Mile Marker (MM) 127 Above Head of Passes (AHP) to MM 129 AHP.  This  Measure is needed to protect persons and vessels from the potential  safety hazards associated with U. S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)  opening the Bonnet Carre Spillway on or about February 28, 2019. This  Measure is in effect with the following provisions:

Effective at 0700 on February 26, 2019, vessels shall not enter the  Bonnet Carre Anchorage or the area extending 600 feet into the river  from the Bonnet Carre Spillway, between MM 127 and MM 129 and the  shoreline of Lake Pontchartrain (located between 30°4′30.6N, 90°24′6.6W  and 30°3′20.9″N, 90°22′18.9W). This VTS Measure will remain in effect as  long as the Bonnet Carre Spillway remains open. All vessels are  prohibited from entering this area without permission from the Captain  of the Port New Orleans or designated representative.

There may be unexpected crosscurrents or eddies that occur due to the  water being diverted from the river into the spillway.  Mariners are  reminded to exercise due caution and stay toward the Right Descending  Bank (RDB) while navigating through this area.  Barge fleets and  terminals located upriver from the Bonnet Carre Spillway should also pay  close attention to the increased river current and make extra efforts  to ensure vessels and barges remain moored or anchored.  All barge  fleets are reminded to review and comply with the high water  requirements listed in 33 CFR 165.803(m).

The USACE will have a picket boat stationed on the Left Descending  Bank (LDB) above the spillway to monitor traffic.  Any barge breakaways  or vessels adrift in the vicinity of the spillway from Mile 128 to Mile  140 should be immediately reported to:

1)  VTS LMR (“New Orleans Traffic”) on VHF Ch. 05A, or by phone at (504) 365-2230 and,

2)  USACE picket boat on VHF Ch. 67 or 16.

For further information, contact:

Coast Guard Sector New Orleans Command Center:  (504) 365-2200
Coast Guard Waterways Management: (504) 365-2280
Vessel Traffic Service Lower Mississippi River: (504) 365-2230, VHF FM Ch. 05A, 12, 67

Captain of the Port New Orleans


EPIRB and False alerts - 12/2018

After responding to over 700 false alerts in 2018, the Coast Guard is  urging anyone with an emergency position indicating radio beacon to  properly register their device.

An EPIRB is a device that transmits a distress signal to a satellite  system called Cospas-Sarsat. The satellites relay the signal to a  network of ground units and ultimately to the Coast Guard and other  emergency responders.

Owners of commercial fishing vessels, uninspected passenger vessels  that carry six or more people, and un-inspected commercial vessels are  legally required to carry an EPIRB. However, the Coast Guard recommends  that every mariner who transits offshore or on long voyages should carry  an EPIRB.

The Federal Communications Commission requires all EPIRB owners to  register their beacons with NOAA and keep the registration information  up-to-date.

If an unregistered beacon activates, the FCC can prosecute the owner  based on evidence provided by the Coast Guard, and will issue warning  letters or notices of apparent liability for fines up to $10,000.

Coast Guard personnel were only able to contact 163 of the more than  700 EPIRB owners to determine the cause of the false alerts. The other  individuals had not registered their beacons, not updated their  registration information, or had disposed of them improperly. When Coast  Guard watchstanders receive an EPIRB alert and cannot trace it to the  owner due to missing or outdated registration information, they launch  aircraft and boat crews to search the area for signs of distress.

To register your beacon with NOAA, click here.



The U.S. Coast Guard has received reports from crews, ship owners,  inspectors and other mariners regarding poor reception on VHF  frequencies used for radiotelephone, digital selective calling (DSC) and  automatic identification systems (AIS) when in the vicinity of light  emitting diode (LED) lighting on-board ships (e.g., navigation lights,  searchlights and floodlights, interior and exterior lights, adornment).

Radio frequency interference caused by these LED lamps was found to  create potential safety hazards. For example, the maritime rescue  coordination center in one port was unable to contact a ship involved in  a traffic separation scheme incident by VHF radio. That ship also  experienced very poor AIS reception. Other ships in different ports have  experienced degradation of the VHF receivers, including AIS, caused by  their LED navigation lights. LED lighting installed near VHF antennas  has also shown to compound the reception.

Strong radio interference from LED sources may not be immediately  evident to maritime radio users. Nonetheless, it may be possible to test  for the presence of LED interference by using the following procedures:

 1. Turn off LED light(s).
2. Tune the VHF radio to a quiet channel (e.g,. Channel 13).
3. Adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the radio outputs audio noise.
4. Re-adjust the VHF radio’s squelch control until the audio noise is quiet, only slightly above the noise threshold.
5. Turn on the LED light(s). If the radio now outputs audio noise, then  the LED lights have raised the noise floor. (Noise floor is generally  the amount of interfering signals / static received beyond the specific  signal or channel being monitored.)
6. If the radio does not output audio noise, then the LED lights have not raised the noise floor.

If the noise floor is found to have been raised, then it is likely  that both shipboard VHF marine radio and AIS reception are being  degraded by LED lighting. In order to determine the full impact of this  interference, the Coast Guard requests those experiencing this problem  to report their experiences to the Coast Guard Navigation Center.  Select “Maritime Telecommunications” on the subject drop down list,  then briefly describe the make and model of LED lighting and radios  effected, distance from lighting to antennas and radios effected, and  any other information that may help understand the scope of the problem.

This Safety Alert  is provided for informational purposes only and does not relieve any  domestic or international safety, operational, or material requirement.  Developed by the U.S. Coast Guard, Spectrum Management and  Telecommunications Policy Division. Distributed by the Office of  Investigations and Analysis. Questions may be sent to


USCG AIS Rule for commercial Vessels

Effective March 2nd, 2015, certain commercially self-propelled  vessels must have a properly installed, operational Automatic  Identification System (AIS) no later than March 1st, 2016. The following  vessels are required to install and use a Class A AIS transponder

  • All commercial vessels of 65 feet or more in length (except as defined below)  
  • Towing vessels of 26 feet or more in length and more than 600 horsepower  
  • Vessels certificated to carry more than 150 passengers  
  • Passenger vessels that are 65 feet or more and certificated to  carry less than 150 passengers but operate in a Vessel Traffic Service  area or at speeds in excess of 14 knots
  • Dredges that operate near a commercial channel  
  • Vessels engaged in the movement of certain dangerous cargo, or flammable or combustible liquid cargo in bulk

In addition, the following vessels will be required to install and use at least a Class B AIS transponder

  • Commercial fishing vessels that are 65 feet or more in length  
  • Commercial passenger vessels that are 65 feet or more and are  certificated to carry less than 150 passengers but do not operate in a  Vessel Traffic Service area or at speeds in excess of 14 knots  
  • Dredges operating outside shipping fairways

Vessels that operate solely within a very confined area, or on only  short scheduled voyages; or that are not likely to encounter other  AIS-equipped vessels; or whose design or construction makes it  impracticable to operate an AIS device may seek up to a 5-year deviation  from this requirement.

For more information on this rule change, please see the following resources: