Captain of the Port sets Port Condition ZULU, closing Ports of Miami, Everglades and Palm Beach

Southeastern Coast Guard NewsMIAMI — Coast Guard Sector Miami Captain of the Port, Capt. Chris Scraba, increased to Port Condition ZULU at 11 p.m. Saturday closing the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and Port of Palm Beach in anticipation of Tropical Storm Isaac.

The Captain of the Port has been working in very close coordination with the Ports’ Severe Weather Advisory Team on all port condition decisions. These ports will remain closed through Monday noontime.  Cruise ships, container vessels and tanker vessels due to arrive in the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and Port of Palm Beach Sunday have delayed their arrival until after 12 p.m. Monday, once the ports can be assessed and opened safely.

“The paramount consideration of the Captain of the Port is the safety of life at sea and the maritime environment,” said Capt. Chris Scraba.

The Port of Fort Pierce will remain operating under Port Condition WHISKEY until further notice.

Port Condition ZULU

During Port Condition ZULU (sustained gale force winds from a hurricane force storm are predicted within 12 hours) the ports will remain closed to all incoming and outgoing vessel traffic until directed by the Captain of the Port.

All intra-island ferries transiting ports under Port Condition ZULU must cease operations and be secured at their designated mooring facility when Port Condition ZULU is in place for their respective port.

Owners and operators of recreational vessels should follow the small craft advisories from the National Weather Service, and take the necessary measures to safeguard the safety of their vessels.

Elements of Coast Guard Port Readiness Condition ZULU include:

  • This condition is set when gale force winds of 54 miles per hour from a tropical storm or hurricane are expected to arrive at the port within 12 hours.
  • The Captain of the Port has established a Safety Zone prohibiting vessels greater than 500 gross tons from moving within the Port of Miami, Port Everglades and Port of Palm Beach as of 11 p.m. Saturday.
  • Waterfront facilities and marinas shall remove potential flying debris, hazardous materials and oil hazards form dockside areas.
  • All oceangoing commercial vessels greater than 500 gross tons must depart the port.
  • Vessels greater than 500 gross tons bound for this port must seek an alternate destination.

This Port Condition also impacts bridge operations – Vessels with height restrictions should plan accordingly.

The following bridges are currently closed to navigation:

  • Miami-Dade County: It is anticipated that all bridges over the Intercoastal Waterway and Miami River will be in the lock-down phase as early as 6 p.m. or as late as 11 p.m. Saturday.
  • Broward County: All bridges over the Intercoastal Waterway will remain open.

The Captain of the Port will provide updates as needed and may be reached at (305) 535-4472 or via Channel 16 VHF FM marine radio through Coast Guard Sector Miami.

Port Condition WHISKEY

The Port of Fort Pierce is currently open to all commercial traffic and all transfer operations may continue while Whiskey remains in effect. Threatening winds between 39 and 54 mph from a hurricane-force storm are possible within 72 hours.

All oceangoing commercial vessels and oceangoing barges greater than 500 gross tons should make plans for departing the port.  Vessels desiring to remain in port must immediately contact the captain of the port at 305-535-4472 to receive permission to do so, and are required to submit a safe mooring plan in writing.  Vessels bound for South Florida unable to depart 24 hours prior to threatening winds making landfall are advised to seek an alternate destination.

Pleasure craft are advised to seek safe harbor.  Drawbridges may not be operating if sustained winds reach 25 mph or when an evacuation is in progress.

Port facilities are advised to review their heavy weather plans and take all necessary precautions to adequately prepare for the expected conditions.

The Coast Guard recommends that boaters take the necessary precautions to secure their vessel and reconsider plans to get underway. Severe weather is expected Sunday and may carry into Monday.

The Coast Guard is warning the public of these important safety messages:

  • Stay off the water. The Coast Guard’s search-and-rescue capabilities degrade as storm conditions strengthen. This means help could be delayed. That is why boaters are urged to heed to weather watches, warnings and small craft advisories.
  • Secure your belongings. Owners of larger boats are urged to move their boats to inland marinas where they will be less vulnerable to breaking free of their moorings or damage. Smaller boats should be pulled from the water and stored in a place that is not prone to flooding. Those who are leaving their boats in the water are reminded to secure life rings, life jackets and small boats. These items, if not secured properly, can break free and require valuable search-and-rescue resources to be diverted to ensure they are not actually people in distress.
  • Stay clear of beaches and low-lying areas. Even the best swimmers can fall victim to the strong waves and rip currents caused by severe weather. Swimmers are urged to stay clear of beaches until local officials say the water is safe. Residents are encouraged to heed to local evacuation warnings and orders because localized flooding can sometimes be associated with large amounts of rain.
  • Stay informed. The public should monitor the progress and strength of Tropical Storm Isaac through local television, radio and internet. The National Weather Service (NWS) broadcasts marine weather forecasts regularly.  The forecast can be heard by tuning into channels one through five on VHF marine radios or by checking the NWS webpage at

Boaters in distress can contact the Coast Guard on VHF channel 16 or dial directly to (305) 535-4316.

This Marine Safety Information Bulletin will be updated as soon as storm conditions change.  For additional information, please call Coast Guard Sector Miami at (305) 535-4472.

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