Captain’s Corner: Marine Events

U.S. Coast Guard photo of CAPT Tom Allan taken by Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy TamargoThis Captain’s Corner is brought to you by LT Steve Sharp, Chief of Sector Jacksonville’s Waterways Management Division. This article was one of Steve’s last projects before departing the Coast Guard for other opportunities in the maritime community – I wish Steve the best as he continues his professional career. Steve will be replaced by LT Scott Bleiken for the next several months, and may be contacted for more information on marine events. As always, if you have recommendations for future topics, we would appreciate your input. See you in the port!
– CAPT Tom Allan

Marine Events

By LT Steve Sharp, Chief of Sector Jacksonville’s Waterways Management Division

In the ports of Fernandina, Jacksonville, and Canaveral, as well as in the surrounding navigable waterways, well over a hundred marine events occur within a given year. As stewards of maritime safety and security, the Waterways Management (WWM) Division at Sector Jacksonville evaluates applications on an annual basis, but since not all events require a Coast Guard issued permit, the question is what constitutes a marine event?

A marine event is an organized water event of limited duration conducted according to a prearranged schedule, and which presents an extra unusual hazard to the safety of life that cannot be protected against by existing Navigational rules. Common examples of events include power boat races, boat parades, and regattas.

For events meeting the aforementioned criteria, the Coast Guard takes measures to increase maritime awareness through issuance of Local Notice to Mariners and Safety Marine Information Broadcasts. In addition, after careful evaluation of all potential environmental impacts with partner agencies, the WWM Division will create a special local regulation to appear under 33 Code of Federal Regulations 100.701. In the case of fireworks in a high traffic area or an air show, a safety zone will be established versus a special local regulation in support of the marine event.

Due to the potentially extensive consultation and evaluation of an application, submission timelines are 135 days prior to new events and 60 days prior to reoccurring events. The “Six Stage Permit Review Process” consists of:

  • Application Submission
  • Administrative Review
  • Safety Review
  • Environmental Review
  • Permit Issuance
  • Monitor & Document (execution of Marine Event)

A major upcoming marine event under review includes the first annual Jacksonville Grand Prix of the Seas to take place in June 2014. This event will require coordination among the Coast Guard, Fish and Wildlife Service, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and City of Jacksonville representatives. Races will take place on a 2.1 mile lap course, ranging from super stock boats to personal watercraft near Memorial Park on the St. Johns River.

So when does an organization need a marine event permit? Well, if you or an organizer answers “YES” to any of the following questions, a permit may be required:

  • Is your event being held on or near the navigable waters of the United States?
  • Will the event take place in or near a designated environmentally sensitive area, a critical habitat containing threatened or endangered species or an area of historic, cultural, or archeological significance?
  • Does the event involve an inherently hazardous competition? (Example: A speed boat race with vessels traveling greater than 30 miles per hour)
  • Could the event cause any obstructions of the navigable channel or change the customary presence of commercial or pleasure craft in the area.
  • Is there an expected accumulation of spectator craft?
  • Could the event present a substantial threat to the safety of human life on navigable waters?
  • Are you requesting the use of Coast Guard resources or the issuance of a special local regulation or safety zone?

If you answered yes, and now need to submit an application for a marine event permit, you can do so by completing the form on this web page and submitting it to the WWM division.

Questions or concerns about the marine event permit process may be directed to the Sector Jacksonville Waterways Management Division at (904) 564-7500, ext 7701.