Coast Guard urges mariners to secure vessels; prevent hazards to navigation

A capsized and unmanned, adrift boat floats in the Sheboygan River near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, March 31, 2017. The Coast Guard urges mariners to ensure their vessels are properly secured to docks, piers or moorings to help prevent boats from accidentally breaking away and becoming hazards to navigation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

A capsized and unmanned, adrift boat floats in the Sheboygan River near Sheboygan, Wisconsin, March 31, 2017.  (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

MILWAUKEE – The Coast Guard is urging mariners to ensure their vessels are properly secured to docks, piers and moorings to help prevent boats from accidentally breaking away, Monday.

“In the past two months, our crews have responded to six unmanned and adrift vessels on the local waterways,” said Chief Warrant Officer Matthew James, commanding officer of Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor in Chicago. “These cases, which have pulled our resources to more remote zones of our area of responsibility, can potentially impact our ability to effectively respond to more urgent emergencies elsewhere in the Chicago area. The water is still very cold, which means the window to successfully rescue someone in danger is small. I’m concerned about the risks these adrift vessels are creating for local mariners and my crews.”

Warmer temperatures, melting snow and recent rains have caused water levels around Lake Michigan, as well as in rivers and associated waterways, to increase. Higher waters can lead to swifter currents and provide an opportunity for vessels that are not properly secured to easily break free.

During the last several weeks, response personnel in the Coast Guard command center in Milwaukee have seen an increase in the reporting of unmanned vessels adrift in Lake Michigan, surrounding rivers and other connected waterways. These breakaway vessels can become a hazard to navigation for other mariners and require an on-water response from the Coast Guard and other local agencies who have to treat these adrift vessels as real search and rescue emergencies.

Mariners who encounter unmanned adrift vessels or other hazards to navigation are encouraged to contact the Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan Command Center at (414) 747-7190 or on VHF-FM Channel 16.

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