Site Updated:
February 15, 2014

Port Security

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Restrictions on vessel activity continue in and around most ports and may be lessened or increased at any time. Boaters must be aware! Briefly: Vessels are not allowed within 100 yards of a U.S. Navy ship and must proceed at minimum  speed when within 500 yards of it. Most ports now enforce a 100-yard "security zone" around all ships whether they are moored or underway. Ports will also be closed at times. The wait for reopening can be from just minutes to a few hours. Plan on possible delays if your intended route takes you through a port. Closures are most likely when ships are arriving or departing — early mornings and evenings — but can occur at any time, for any duration.  The regulations are too varied (and subject to change) to publish here but if you have any questions regarding port security at any time call the Port Security Symbolnearest Coast Guard Sector Command (See Useful Numbers). They should have current information.  The Coast Guard “Slash” symbol (left) that you’ll see on our sketch charts is a link to the Department of Homeland Security’s “Home Port” site, from which you can access current Port Security Advisories, current security level and other pertinent information.

U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Office Miami announces Operation "ON GUARD." This operation is designed to employ Coast Guard - active duty, reserve and auxiliary, FBI, US Customs Service, US Immigration and Naturalization Service and Florida Dept. of Law Enforcement personnel in response to suspected terrorist activity at the waterfront facilities of the United States. South Florida is extremely vulnerable because it is the terminus of illegal alien and narcotics smuggling routes from the Bahamas, the Caribbean and South America. These routes are well established and are readily available for use by terrorist organizations. An urgent need existed to make the American Public equal partners in the fight on terrorism. Operation "ON GUARD" creates an effective deterrent measure that employs the eyes and ears of the marine industry and the boating public, people that know every inch of the coastline because it is where they work and play.  Potential terrorists are put on notice that their activities will be seen and reported. Operation "ON GUARD" takes a two pronged approach consisting of face to face visits by Coast Guard, FBI, USCS, INS and FDLE personnel combined with a coordinated joint agency media campaign to reach Marina Operators, Marine Dealers, Bridge Tenders, Commercial Fishermen and the Boating Public. This operation relies on Coast Guard Auxiliary programs already in place such as Vessel Safety Checks and The Commercial Fishing Vessel Safety Program to reach their normal customers, the waterfront users. The public is provided with the toll free number (1-800-424-8802) for reporting suspected terrorist activity to the National Response Center and the 1.800.BE ALERT number is for US Customs along with a list of reporting criteria.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security requires that pleasure boaters (including U.S. Citizens) returning from the Bahamas appear in person at an Immigration Office within 24 hours of their return to our shores and contacting Customs. This applies to all persons aboard including owners, passengers and crew.

Here’s what you need to do to save time and hassle on your return to Southeast Florida from the islands ... Before your trip, phone 1-800-432-1216 to make an appointment and learn exactly what you’ll need to have with you for your  reregistration. They’ll want biographical data and vessel information.
You may choose one of three offices in South Florida for that appointment: Miami, Fort Lauderdale or Riviera Beach. Each person on board will need a clearance or registration number if he/she is 14 years of age or over. Children under 14 travel on a parent’s  registration. Any individual or group taking part in the LBOP will be given a number and may check in by telephone on return. Your registration number(s) will be usable on future trips. For more details, click HERE. (That’s the U. S. Government/Homeland Security site for Customs & Border Protection.)

Voluntary, Free of Charge & Will Facilitate Your Return to the U.S. Offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Riviera Beach

America’s Waterway Watch has been set up by the US Coast Guard and its Auxiliary to encourage the boating public (actually anyone who lives, works or plays on or near the water) to watch for and report suspicious activity, particularly near bridges, tunnels, fuel docks, industrial facilities and other sensitive locations (which could be terrorists’ next targets). Such reports can be made by telephone to 877-24WATCH. If there is immediate danger to life or property call 911 or call the Coast Guard on Channel 16. To learn more, visit their web site (with a short video) —


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