SEATTLE — The Coast Guard 13th District commander, working in conjunction with the Coast Guard Sector Columbia River captain of the port, has established a temporary safety zone and a Voluntary First Amendment Area associated with the arrival of the drilling support vessel Fennica to Portland, Oregon.
The zone, which will remain in effect until the vessel departs, is necessary to allow maximum use of the Columbia and Willamette River waterways by all users consistent with safe navigation and to ensure special interest groups and other mariners are not at risk of injury in the active and dynamic maritime transit areas.
“The Coast Guard is responsible for ensuring the safety, security and environmental stewardship in our navigable waterways,” said Capt. David Berliner, deputy commander, Coast Guard Sector Columbia River and alternate captain of the port. “Everyone’s safety is our top priority.”
A safety zone extending 500-yards in front of the vessel and 100 yards to the port, starboard and astern of the vessel will be in place around the Fennica while the vessel is transiting, and a 100-yard safety zone will be in place around the vessel while moored, at anchor or in dry dock.
Whether intentional or unintentional, interference with deep-draft and other vessels, particularly those with limited ability to maneuver, has the potential to result in collision, grounding, serious injury, death or pollution in the highly sensitive ecosystem of Columbia and Willamette Rivers. The safety zone provides ample space for any vessel to operate near the Fennica’s transit without disrupting safe navigation.
The Voluntary First Amendment Area is a regulated navigation area in the Swan Island Basin from the public boat ramp to a line extending from North Ensign Street southwest across the basin to Vigor Industrial. This location is where the Coast Guard recommends, but does not require, those desiring to express their views on Arctic drilling to freely assemble. It is a no wake area where individuals can congregate without compromising their personal safety or jeopardizing the safe navigation of maritime traffic around them.
The Coast Guard supports freedom of speech and peaceful assembly upon domestic waters as well as ashore. None of the Coast Guard’s actions are aimed at restricting the lawful exercise of these rights. The Coast Guard’s involvement helps ensure safety of those using the waterway both as a forum for self-expression and as a mode of transportation.
The Coast Guard’s focus is on waterway safety. Any action, which disrupts safe navigation, will be appropriately responded to, investigated, and violators may be subject to civil penalties and/or criminal prosecution under applicable Federal law. All persons are required to adhere to federal laws and regulations and violations may result in penalties.
The signed temporary final rule establishing the safety zones and Voluntary First Amendment Area will be published in the Federal Register at http://ift.tt/14oKwbD and will be searchable using key words safety zone + Columbia River.