The Coast Guard is encouraging boaters in the Hampton Roads area to familiarize themselves with the federal regulations governing the security zone surrounding all naval vessels more than 100 feet in length.
Recently boaters have been approaching naval vessels too closely within the Port of Hampton Roads. Protecting naval vessels from sabotage and terrorist acts is one of the country's and the Coast Guard's highest priorities. For this reason, Congress mandated a 500-yard Naval Vessel Protection Zone to be established around all U.S. naval vessels more than 100 feet in length.
When within 500 yards of a naval vessel, all boaters, both commercial and recreational, shall operate at the minimum speed necessary to maintain a safe course. In addition, boaters must comply with all direction given by the Coast Guard or the naval vessel inside the 500-yard zone. No vessel or person may approach within 100 yards of the naval vessel unless authorized by the Coast Guard or the naval vessel.
Violators of these regulations are subject to civil and/or criminal penalties, including the use of deadly force when necessary, for the safety and security of the naval vessel. For those interested, amplifying information for this regulation can be found in Title 33, Section 165 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
While a naval vessel is in transit, the Coast Guard establishes a moving security zone around the vessel. This security zone is in place for naval vessel safety and security. The Coast Guard reminds boaters to adhere to these safety and security zones at all times.
Additionally, boaters are reminded to always be vigilant of suspicious activity while on the water. Such activities can be reported through the America's Waterway Watch Program by calling the National Response Center at 877-24WATCH.