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DISTRACTED BOATING


For the second time in two days NAUTICAL LOG has received reports of electronics in the marine environment 'taking over'. In the last decades marine electronics have grown in capability and convenience however they have caused a new hazard. Now that just about everyone it would seem has a cellphone and as a result there has arisen the problem of inappropriate use. The NTSB has just commented on the use of cellphones when Chairwoman Debbie Hersman said:

"The use of wireless communication devices while operating vehicles in any mode of transportation poses an unacceptable distraction"

This remark resulted from USCG officers being involved in two particular collisions in which cellphones were a contributing factor. These occurred in San Diego,CA and Charleston,SC the San Diego crash resulted in one death and at Charleston there were six people treated for injuries. Here in Miami-Dade County,FL NAUTICAL LOG has observed on many occasions the USCG RHIB's travelling at high speed in Miami Harbor. This is most notable when the cruise ships are in at weekends. Driving an armed high speed craft while on 'port security watch' is definitely fun and a great temptation for showing off by young bosun's mates. Couple that with a cellphone call to that 'significant other' and one has an accident about to happen. Near misses are quite frequent and wake damage pretty much disregarded as one sees other boats bouncing around.

This is known to the USCG 7th. District as the cruise industry has on many occasions pointed it out. So what is being done ? Since the NTSB has no regulatory power they urged the USCG to tighten restrictions on cellphone use by its officers. They also asked the USCG to issue broad safety advisory to the entire maritime industry warning of risks from cellphone usage at inappropriate times when underway. In response on July 16, 2010 the USCG prohibited cellphone use by its boat operators and restricted their use by the other crewmembers.

In closing NAUTICAL LOG must point out that the NTSB has not ruled on what caused the accidents mentioned above but said crewmembers on each USCG boat were using cellphones. They added the USCG considers all crewmembers on small boats to be lookouts while the boats are underway.

Good Watch.

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