Near Miss Between Cruise Ship and Small Vessel Causes Concern

SAN PEDRO, Calif -The Coast Guard is investigating a report of a 31-foot commercial fishing vessel crossing within 10 meters in front of a cruise ship transiting inbound in the Los Angeles Main Channel yesterday morning. This “near miss” is one of several recent incidents where small vessels impeded the “right-of-way” of large commercial traffic in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and it nearly caused a collision with potentially catastrophic consequences.

“Yesterday’s incident was extremely dangerous and was a violation of navigation rules. It was also a violation of federal laws that prohibit vessels from coming within 200 yards in front and 100 yards behind or to the sides of a cruise ship that is underway. Violators are subject to fines up to $32,500.00,” said Lieutenant Commander John Hennigan, Chief, Waterways Management Division for Coast Guard Sector Los Angeles-Long Beach.

The Coast Guard is taking a heightened posture towards small vessel navigation violations. This will include coordination with the Los Angeles-Long Beach Harbor Safety Committee, education outreach efforts to small boat operators and increased enforcement presence.

Mariners are reminded of the following regulations:

Navigation Rules (Rules of the Road)

Rule 9 of the International and Inland Navigation rules prohibits vessels less than 20 meters (approx. 65′ in length) or a sailing vessel from impeding the passage of a vessel which can safely navigate only in a “Narrow Channel or Fairway”. The Captain of the Port has designated the following areas as narrow channels or fairways for the purposes of this rule:

  • The Los Angeles and Long Beach Pilot Operating Areas
  • All navigational channels inside the Los Angeles-Long Beach federal breakwater leading to deep draft berths in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach including, but not limited to, the Los Angeles Main Ship Channel, Long Beach Channel, and Cerritos Channel.

Cruise Ship Security Zones

Security zones exist for all cruise ships within the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, out to 3 nautical miles from the federal breakwaters, and as outlined in Title 33, Part 165.1154 of the Code of Federal Regulations. Vessels may not enter into, transit or anchor within the security zone unless authorized by the Captain of the Port. Mariners may contact the Captain of the Port’s representative at telephone (310) 521-3805 or on VHF-FM channel 16.

The following separation distances are required around all cruise ships:

  • 100 yard radius around the cruise ship while it is anchored, moored, or in the process of mooring
  • 200 yards ahead, and 100 yards on each side and astern of a cruise ship that is underway San Pedro Bay Regulated Navigation Area.

Title 33, Part 165.1152 of the Code of Federal Regulations establishes a Regulated Navigation Area for San Pedro Bay which prohibits any vessel from entering the pilot operating areas unless they are entering/departing through the respective gate (Queens or Angles Gate). Vessels are further prohibited from stopping or loitering in the area unless they are transitioning a vessel pilot. The pilot operating areas are prominently displayed on nautical charts.

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