Not So Fast
By Marilyn Raia
The propulsion issue of this magazine is a good place to examine the law pertaining to vessel speed. A vessel’s speed may be governed by federal, state and/or local law depending on where the vessel is being operated. This article focuses on speed basics under federal law.
The Basic Federal
The International Rules for Prevention of Collisions at Sea and the United States Inland Navigation Rules address vessel speed. They both have the same basic speed rule. Rule 6 requires every vessel at all times to “proceed at a safe speed so that she can take proper and effective action to avoid collision and be stopped within a distance appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions.” The term “collision” is interpreted broadly and includes a vessel’s wake striking another vessel.
Rule 6 does not define “safe” but does identify some factors to be taken into account when determining what a safe speed is. The factors are well-founded in common sense. They include: 1) visibility; 2) density of vessel traffic… (Read Full Article)