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Electronic Code of Federal Regulations

e-CFR data is current as of December 9, 2019

Title 33Chapter ISubchapter EPart 83 → Subpart D


Title 33: Navigation and Navigable Waters
PART 83—NAVIGATION RULES


Subpart D—Sound and Light Signals


Contents
§83.32   Definitions (Rule 32).
§83.33   Equipment for sound signals (Rule 33).
§83.34   Maneuvering and warning signals (Rule 34).
§83.35   Sound signals in restricted visibility (Rule 35).
§83.36   Signals to attract attention (Rule 36).
§83.37   Distress signals (Rule 37).

§83.32   Definitions (Rule 32).

(a) The word whistle means any sound signaling appliance capable of producing the prescribed blasts and which complies with specifications in Annex III to these Rules (33 CFR part 86).

(b) The term short blast means a blast of about 1 second's duration.

(c) The term prolonged blast means a blast of from 4 to 6 seconds' duration.

§83.33   Equipment for sound signals (Rule 33).

(a) A vessel of 12 meters or more in length shall be provided with a whistle, a vessel of 20 meters or more in length shall be provided with a bell in addition to a whistle, and a vessel of 100 meters or more in length shall, in addition, be provided with a gong, the tone and sound of which cannot be confused with that of the bell. The whistle, bell and gong shall comply with the specifications in Annex III to these Rules (33 CFR part 86). The bell or gong or both may be replaced by other equipment having the same respective sound characteristics, provided that manual sounding of the prescribed signals shall always be possible.

(b) A vessel of less than 12 meters in length shall not be obliged to carry the sound signaling appliances prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule but if she does not, she shall be provided with some other means of making an efficient sound signal.

§83.34   Maneuvering and warning signals (Rule 34).

(a) When power-driven vessels are in sight of one another and meeting or crossing at a distance within half a mile of each other, each vessel underway, when maneuvering as authorized or required by these Rules:

(i) Shall indicate that maneuver by the following signals on her whistle:

(1) One short blast to mean “I intend to leave you on my port side”;

(2) Two short blasts to mean “I intend to leave you on my starboard side”; and

(3) Three short blasts to mean “I am operating astern propulsion”.

(ii) Upon hearing the one or two blast signal of the other shall, if in agreement, sound the same whistle signal and take the steps necessary to effect a safe passing. If, however, from any cause, the vessel doubts the safety of the proposed maneuver, she shall sound the signal specified in paragraph (d) of this Rule and each vessel shall take appropriate precautionary action until a safe passing agreement is made.

(b) A vessel may supplement the whistle signals prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule by light signals:

(i) These signals shall have the following significance:

(1) One flash to mean “I intend to leave you on my port side”;

(2) Two flashes to mean “I intend to leave you on my starboard side”;

(3) Three flashes to mean “I am operating astern propulsion”;

(ii) The duration of each flash shall be about 1 second; and

(iii) The light used for this signal shall, if fitted, be one all-round white or yellow light, visible at a minimum range of 2 miles, synchronized with the whistle, and shall comply with the provisions of Annex I to these Rules (33 CFR part 84).

(c) When in sight of one another:

(i) A power-driven vessel intending to overtake another power-driven vessel shall indicate her intention by the following signals on her whistle:

(1) One short blast to mean “I intend to overtake you on your starboard side”;

(2) Two short blasts to mean “I intend to overtake you on your port side”; and

(ii) The power-driven vessel about to be overtaken shall, if in agreement, sound a similar sound signal. If in doubt she shall sound the signal prescribed in paragraph (d) of this Rule.

(d) When vessels in sight of one another are approaching each other and, from any cause, either vessel fails to understand the intentions or actions of the other, or is in doubt whether sufficient action is being taken by the other to avoid collision, the vessel in doubt shall immediately indicate such doubt by giving at least five short and rapid blasts on the whistle. Such signal may be supplemented by a light signal of at least five short and rapid flashes.

(e) A vessel nearing a bend or an area of a channel or fairway where other vessels may be obscured by an intervening obstruction shall sound one prolonged blast. This signal shall be answered with a prolonged blast by any approaching vessel that may be within hearing around the bend or behind the intervening obstruction.

(f) If whistles are fitted on a vessel at a distance apart of more than 100 meters, one whistle only shall be used for giving maneuvering and warning signals.

(g) When a power-driven vessel is leaving a dock or berth, she shall sound one prolonged blast.

(h) A vessel that reaches agreement with another vessel in a head-on, crossing, or overtaking situation, as for example, by using the radiotelephone as prescribed by the Vessel Bridge-to-Bridge Radiotelephone Act (85 Stat. 164; 33 U.S.C. 1201 et seq.), is not obliged to sound the whistle signals prescribed by this Rule, but may do so. If agreement is not reached, then whistle signals shall be exchanged in a timely manner and shall prevail.

[USCG-2012-0102, 79 FR 37912, July 2, 2014, as amended by USCG-2015-0433, 80 FR 44280, July 27, 2015; USCG-2017-1002, 83 FR 3274, Jan. 24, 2018]

§83.35   Sound signals in restricted visibility (Rule 35).

In or near an area of restricted visibility, whether by day or night, the signals prescribed in this Rule shall be used as follows:

(a) A power-driven vessel making way through the water shall sound, at intervals of not more than 2 minutes, one prolonged blast.

(b) A power-driven vessel underway but stopped and making no way through the water shall sound, at intervals of not more than 2 minutes, two prolonged blasts in succession, with an interval of about 2 seconds between them.

(c) A vessel not under command; a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver, whether underway or at anchor; a sailing vessel; a vessel engaged in fishing, whether underway or at anchor; and a vessel engaged in towing or pushing another vessel shall, instead of the signals prescribed in paragraphs (a) or (b) of this Rule, sound, at intervals of not more than 2 minutes, three blasts in succession, namely, one prolonged followed by two short blasts.

(d) [Reserved]

(e) A vessel towed or if more than one vessel is towed the last vessel of the tow, if manned, shall at intervals of not more than 2 minutes sound four blasts in succession, namely, one prolonged followed by three short blasts. When practicable, this signal shall be made immediately after the signal made by the towing vessel.

(f) When a pushing vessel and a vessel being pushed ahead are rigidly connected in a composite unit they shall be regarded as a power-driven vessel and shall give the signals prescribed in paragraphs (a) or (b) of this Rule.

(g) A vessel at anchor shall at intervals of not more than 1 minute ring the bell rapidly for about 5 seconds. In a vessel of 100 meters or more in length the bell shall be sounded in the forepart of the vessel and immediately after the ringing of the bell the gong shall be sounded rapidly for about 5 seconds in the after part of the vessel. A vessel at anchor may in addition sound three blasts in succession, namely, one short, one prolonged and one short blast, to give warning of her position and of the possibility of collision to an approaching vessel.

(h) A vessel aground shall give the bell signal and if required the gong signal prescribed in paragraph (g) of this Rule and shall, in addition, give three separate and distinct strokes on the bell immediately before and after the rapid ringing of the bell. A vessel aground may in addition sound an appropriate whistle signal.

(i) A vessel of 12 meters or more but less than 20 meters in length shall not be obliged to give the bell signals prescribed in paragraphs (g) and (h) of this Rule. However, if she does not, she shall make some other efficient sound signal at intervals of not more than 2 minutes.

(j) A vessel of less than 12 meters in length shall not be obliged to give the above-mentioned signals but, if she does not, shall make some other efficient sound signal at intervals of not more than 2 minutes.

(k) A pilot vessel when engaged on pilotage duty may, in addition to the signals prescribed in paragraphs (a), (b) or (g) of this Rule, sound an identity signal consisting of four short blasts.

(l) The following vessels shall not be required to sound signals as prescribed in paragraph (g) of this Rule when anchored in a special anchorage area designated by the Coast Guard:

(i) A vessel of less than 20 meters in length; and

(ii) A barge, canal boat, scow, or other nondescript craft.

[USCG-2012-0102, 79 FR 37912, July 2, 2014, as amended by USCG-2012-0102, 79 FR 68622, Nov. 18, 2014]

§83.36   Signals to attract attention (Rule 36).

If necessary to attract the attention of another vessel, any vessel may make light or sound signals that cannot be mistaken for any signal authorized elsewhere in these Rules, or may direct the beam of her searchlight in the direction of the danger, in such a way as not to embarrass any vessel.

§83.37   Distress signals (Rule 37).

When a vessel is in distress and requires assistance she shall use or exhibit the signals described in Annex IV to these Rules (33 CFR part 87).

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