When landside events affect navigation
October 9, 2012
been several major shore side events held near Cincinnati recently that have
had a major affect on commercial marine traffic on the Ohio River.
Many of you
might ask why this is such a big deal. For mariners here, it is. Several public
events in my area have become so popular that they not only attract large crowds
on land, but they have also attracted hundreds of recreational boaters who view
the events from their boats anchored in the river. I have no beef with recreational
boaters in general — we all have a right to access our nation’s waterways for
pleasure and for commerce. But I do have a problem when it comes as a complete
surprise to those who must navigate through these areas.
situation, if left unaddressed, will impede commerce and undermine safety on
the water. We need the Coast Guard to get involved when it is clear that a
public event will impact navigation on an adjacent body of water.
an international fireworks competition was held at Cincinnati’s historic Coney
Island Park located on the banks of the Ohio River. This event attracted
hundreds of boaters, with some anchoring directly in the channel. As I cruised
up the river with 225 passengers aboard my vessel, I quickly realized that it
was not safe to continue. Similarly, two southbound barge tows and two
northbound tows were transiting the area. They also decided to wait until the
event was over and the river was clear to get back underway. Prior to decision
to stop sailing, there was a great deal of conversation on the marine radio
between the commercial mariners who were attempting to sort out the situation. The
fireworks event did not take us by surprise, but the recreational boats
anchored all over the river did.
I believe there
should have been some responsibility on the part of the event organizers and the
municipalities that license these events to involve the Coast Guard. This is
especially true when a public event has the potential of impacting commercial
marine navigation and safety.
In this case,
no one was hurt and commercial mariners handled the situation very
professionally. But future events must be evaluated for their potential affect
on marine navigation. Perhaps a marine permitting process should be instituted.
It is a shame
that the professional mariners were left on their own to cope with the fall out
from these events. After all, we are committed to providing a high level of
safety to our customers, passengers and crew, and we know that we will be held
accountable should the unthinkable occur.
and municipalities do a good job of involving the Coast Guard, law enforcement,
the maritime community and others when large events are held in port. But many
localities such as mine have a lot of room for improvement.