New ‘moving safety zone’ rule starts Dec. 5


PORT OF NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard published a new rule Oct. 31 that establishes a “moving safety zone” around large cruise ships as they transit the lower Mississippi River between the port of New Orleans Cruise Ship Terminal, at mile marker 96, and the Southwest Pass Sea Buoy. The zone extends from bank to bank, encompassing one mile ahead and one mile astern of each cruise ship, according to the rule. No person or vessel may enter or remain in the Safety Zone except for vessels authorized by the Captain of the  Port or Designated Representatives, with varying exceptions.

The Coast Guard says the safety zone is necessary to protect persons and vessels from the potential safety hazards associated with congested maritime traffic in the area.

If you have questions on this rule, you are asked to call or email Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Brandon Sullivan, Sector New  Orleans, U.S. Coast Guard, at 504-365-2280 and

For the purpose of this rule, the term ``large cruise ship'' is defined as a vessel over 100’ in length, carrying more  than 500 passengers for hire, making a voyage lasting more than 24 hours, any part of which is on the high seas, and for which passengers  are embarked or disembarked in the United States or its territories. 

This rule, the Coast Guard said, is intended to establish early passing or overtaking arrangements thus increasing the time available for safe maneuvering.

The impacts on routine navigation are expected to be minimal, the Coast Guard said. The moving safety zones will not interfere with a vessel's ability to make passing and overtaking arrangements. Routine navigation around and near the safety zones will not be impacted. The moving safety zone is intended to enable early  notification of passing or overtaking arrangements, providing additional time and opportunity to negotiate navigational arrangements and to maneuver without causing delay in transit for both the large  cruise ship and the other vessels operating in the area.

The Pilot directing the movement of the large cruise ship under the authority of the master has the authority to allow other vessels to enter the safety zone when necessary. Vessels that have made suitable passing or overtaking  arrangements with the pilot onboard the large cruise ship may enter  into this safety zone in accordance with those agreed upon  arrangements. Moored vessels or vessels anchored in a designated anchorage  area may remain in their current moored or anchored position while the  large cruise ship transits the area. Barge Fleets or vessels working a fleet may continue their  current operations while the large cruise ship transits the area. Vessels requiring a deviation from this rule must request  permission from the Captain of the Port New Orleans. The Captain of the Port New Orleans may be contacted at 504-365-2210.



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