Vessel movement reporting system to be activated in Buzzards Bay

WOODS HOLE, Mass., – The U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are implementing a Vessel Movement Reporting System (VMRS) in Buzzards Bay, Mass., Wednesday, one of several new regulations for vessels transiting the Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay designed to increase vessel safety and enhance environmental protection.

The VMRS is comprised of two areas. The Buzzards Bay section extends from the western entrance of Buzzards Bay to the vicinity of Cleveland Ledge. The Cape Cod Canal area is comprised of the waters from Cleveland Ledge to Cape Cod Bay. Vessel operators transiting these areas will be required to notify the Army Corps of Engineers control center as they enter and exit the area and must provide specific information about their transit and their vessel.

The Cape Cod Canal control center, working in conjunction with the Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England Command Center here, will provide marine traffic reports, waterway status, and other information, advice or recommendations that could affect safe navigation within the VMRS areas.

“The Vessel Movement Reporting System is one part of the regulations the Coast Guard implemented this year to help protect Buzzards Bay from a spill such as the 2003 Bouchard Barge B-120 case,” said Senior Chief Richard Uronis of Sector Southeastern New England. “With the help of this system we can monitor vessel traffic and alert mariners to potential hazards along this route.”

In order to avoid congested radio frequencies associated with the VMRS, participation has been divided into two categories of participants. Vessel characteristics such as vessel size, tonnage, and number of passengers will determine whether a vessel is an “Active” or “Passive” participant. Active users, which are generally larger vessels, vessels engaged in towing operations, or vessels with 50 or more passengers, will be required to actively communicate with controllers during the vessel transit. Passive participants will be required to monitor assigned radio frequencies and, when called, respond promptly to control personnel.

Information regarding required participation, communications, reporting procedures and other details can be found in the Vessel Movement Reporting System user’s guide. Scroll to the “Waterways Management” section in the lower left-hand column, and click on the “VMRS Buzzards Bay User Manual.”

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