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Holiday boat lighting could cause navigation hazard

The Coast Guard has issued a safety warning for boaters who place decorative lights on-board their vessels during the holiday season. The Coast Guard strongly reminds vessel owners not to illuminate such lights during routine navigation unless operating in a holiday boat parade or when the vessel is secured dockside.

This issue was highlighted during a recent casualty whereby the owner of a passenger vessel had installed decorative holiday-type LED lighting around the periphery of the vessel. The LEDs were contained in a clear flexible hose and securely attached. Near the bow of the vessel, the lighting was adjacent and slightly above the port and starboard navigation lights. At night, this installation can impair the "distinctive character" of the navigation lights as set out in Rule 20 of the navigation rules.

Additionally, Rule 22 of the navigation rules states that vessel sidelights have a two-mile range for vessels 40 feet or more in length but less than 165 feet in length. Vessel owners and operators and marine inspection personnel should ensure that the proper navigation lighting fixtures are installed, that all components operate correctly and that regulatory requirements with respect to navigation lighting are met.

Questions can be e-mailed to Ken Olsen.

Click here for the Office of Investigations and Analysis Web site.