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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 K.M. LUTTRELL
Captain of the Port New Orleans
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 HQS-PF-fldr-CGF-INV@uscg.mil.
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
In addition, the following vessels will be required to install and use at least a Class B AIS transponder
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: