BOATsmart! USA Knowledge Base

Module 04 - Safe Responsible Boat Operation

Homeland Security Measures

Homeland Security Measures are in place at the federal, state and local levels to protect Americans.

It’s critical that all boaters understand the following federal rules and regulations:

  • You must observe and avoid all security zones, including military ships and stations.
  • You cannot operate your boat within 100 yards of any U.S. naval boat.
  • You must operate at minimum speed when within 500 yards of any U.S. Coast Guard naval boat.
  • You must observe and avoid commercial port operation areas.
  • You must observe and avoid restricted areas like petroleum facilities, power plants, dams, etc.
  • Never dock, idle or stop your boat if you’re under a bridge.
  • You must report any suspicious activities you witness to the Coast Guard or to the local law authorities. For your own safety, never approach boaters who are behaving in a suspicious manner. 

Note: Always stay well clear of these areas. However, if you MUST approach within 100 yards of any U.S. naval boat, commercial fishing boat or cruise ship in order to avoid an unsafe circumstance, contact the U.S. Navy or the Coast Guard to request an escort boat, using a VHF FM radio (channel 16).

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Violating the rules for boat operation around Naval Vessel Protection Zones is a criminal offence. You may be imprisoned for up to six years and/or receive a fine of up to $250,000. Be aware that both the U.S. Navy and the Coast Guard are authorized to use deadly force to protect themselves. 

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BOATsmart! USA Boater Education card.

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