RULE 1 - Application
(a) These Rules apply to all vessels upon the inland waters of the United States, and to vessels of the United States on the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes to the extent that there is no conflict with Canadian law.
(b) (i)These Rules constitute special rules made by an appropriate authority within the meaning of Rule 1(b) of the International Regulations.(ii) All vessels complying with the construction and equipment requirements of the International Regulations are considered to be in compliance with these Rules.
(c) Nothing in these Rules shall interfere with the operation of any special rules made by the Secretary of the Navy with respect to additional station or signal lights and shapes or whistle signals for ships of war and vessels proceeding under convoy, or by the Secretary with respect to additional station or signal lights and shapes for fishing vessels engaged in fishing as a fleet. These additional station or signal lights and shapes or whistle signals shall, so far as possible, be such that they cannot be mistaken for any light, shape, or signal authorized elsewhere under these Rules. Notice of such special rules shall be published in the Federal Register and, after the effective date specified in such notice, they shall have effect as if they were a part of these Rules1.
RULE 2 - Responsibility
(a) Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or the owner, master, or crew thereof, from the consequences of any neglect to comply with these Rules or of the neglect of any precaution which may be required by the ordinary practice of seamen, or by the special circumstances of the case.
(b) In construing and complying with these Rules due regard shall be had to all dangers of navigation and collision and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the vessels involved, which may make a departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger
RULE 3 - General definitions
International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, including annexes currently in force for the United States.
RULE 4 - Application
ApplicationRules in this subpart apply in any condition of visibility
RULE 5 - Look-out
Every vessel shall at all times maintain a proper look-out by sight and hearing as well as by all available means appropriate in the prevailing circumstances and conditions so as to make a full appraisal of the situation.
RULE 6 - Safe speed
Every vessel shall at all times 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.
In determining a safe speed the following factors shall be among those taken into account:
1. The state of visibility;
2. the traffic density including concentrations of fishing vessels or any other vessels;
3. the maneuverability of the vessel with special reference to stopping distance and turning ability in the prevailing conditions;
5. the state of wind, sea and current, and the proximity of navigational hazards;
6. the draught in relation to the available depth of water.
2. any constraints imposed by the radar range scale in use;
3. the effect on radar detection of the sea state, weather and other sources of interference;
4. the possibility that small vessels, ice and other floating objects may not be detected by radar at an adequate range;
5. the number, location and movement of vessels, detected by radar; the more exact assessment of the visibility that may be possible when radar is used to determine the range of vessels or other objects in the vicinity.
RULE 7 - Risk of collision
a. Every vessel shall use all available means appropriate to the prevailing circumstances and conditions to determine if risk of collision exists. If there is any doubt such risk shall be deemed to exist.
a. (i) Such risk shall be deemed to exist if the compass bearing of an approaching vessel does not appreciably change;
RULE 8 - Action to avoid collision
(a) Any action taken to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be positive, made in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.
(b) Any alteration of course or speed to avoid collision shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, be large enough to be readily apparent to another vessel observing visually or by radar; a succession of small alterations of course or speed should be avoided.
(d) Action taken to avoid collision with another vessel shall be such as to result in passing at a safe distance. The effectiveness of the action shall be carefully checked until the other vessel is finally past and clear.
(e) If necessary to avoid collision or allow more time to assess the situation, a vessel shall slacken her speed or take all way off by stopping or reversing her means of propulsion.
(iii) A vessel, the passage of which is not to be impeded remains fully obliged to comply with the rules of this part when the two vessels are approaching one another so as to involve risk of collision.
RULE 9 - Narrow Channels
(a) (i) vessel proceeding along the course of a narrow channel or fairway shall keep as near to the outer limit of the channel or fairway which lies on her starboard side as is safe and practicable. (ii) Notwithstanding paragraph (a)(i) and Rule 14(a), a powerdriven vessel operating in narrow channels or fairways on the Great Lakes, Western Rivers, or waters specified by the Secretary, and proceeding downbound with a following current shall have the right-of-way over an upbound vessel, shall propose the manner and place of passage, and shall initiate the manoeuvering signals prescribed by Rule 34(a)(i), as appropriate. The vessel proceeding upbound against the current shall hold as necessary to permit safe passing.
(g) Every vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid anchoring in a narrow channel.
RULE 10 - Traffic separation schemes
(a) This Rule applies to traffic separation schemes and does not relieve any vessel of her obligation under any other Rule.
RULE 11 - Application
Application Rules in this subpart apply to vessels in sight of one another.
RULE 12 - Sailing vessels
(a) When two sailing vessels are approaching one another, so as to involve risk of collision, one of them shall keep out of the way of the other as follows:
RULE 13 - Overtaking
(a) Notwithstanding anything contained in Rules 4 through 18, any vessel overtaking any other shall keep out of the way of the vessel being overtaken.
(b) A vessel shall be deemed to be overtaking when coming up with another vessel from a direction more than 22.5 degrees abaft her beam;
(c) When a vessel is in any doubt as to whether she is overtaking another, she shall assume that this is the case and act accordingly.
RULE 14 - Head-on situation
(a) Unless otherwise agreed, when two power-driven vessels are meeting on reciprocal or nearly reciprocal courses so as to involve risk of collision each shall alter her course to starboard so that each shall pass on the port side of the other.
(b) Such a situation shall be deemed to exist when a vessel sees the other ahead or nearly ahead and by night she could see the masthead lights of the other in a line or nearly in a line or both sidelights and by day she observes the corresponding aspect of the other vessel.
RULE 15 - Crossing situation
(a) When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel.
RULE 16 - Action by give-way vessel
Every vessel which is directed to keep out of the way of another vessel shall, so far as possible, take early and substantial action to keep well clear.
RULE 17 - Action by stand-on vessel
(a) (i) Where one of two vessels is to keep out of the way, the other shall keep her course and speed.
(b) (ii) The latter vessel may, however, take action to avoid collision by her maneuver alone, as soon as it becomes apparent to her that the vessel required to keep out of the way is not taking appropriate action in compliance with these Rules.
RULE 18 - Responsibilities between vessels
Except where Rules 9, 10, and 13 otherwise require: (a) A power-driven vessel underway shall keep out of the way of: (i) a vessel not under command; (ii) a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver; (iii) a vessel engaged in fishing; and(iv) a sailing vessel.
(b) A sailing vessel underway shall keep out of the way of: (i) a vessel not under command; (ii) a vessel restricted in her ability to maneuver; and (iii) a vessel engaged in fishing.
RULE 20 - Application
(a) Rules in this Part shall be complied with in all weathers. (b) The Rules concerning lights shall be complied with from sunset to sunrise, and during such times no other lights shall be exhibited, except such lights as cannot be mistaken for the lights specified in these Rules or do not impair their visibility or distinctive character, or interfere with the keeping of a proper look-out.
(c) The lights prescribed by these Rules shall, if carried, also be exhibited from sunrise to sunset in restricted visibility and may be exhibited in all other circumstances when it is deemed necessary.
(d) The Rules concerning shapes shall be complied with by day.
(e) The lights and shapes specified in these Rules shall comply with the provisions of Annex I of these Rules.
RULE 21 - Definitions
(a) “Masthead light” means a white light placed over the fore and aft centerline of the vessel showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 225 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on either side of the vessel, except that on a vessel of less than 12 meters in length the masthead light shall be placed as nearly as practicable to the fore and aft centerline of the vessel.
(c) “Sternlight” means a white light placed as nearly as practicable at the stern showing an unbroken light over an arc of the horizon of 135 degrees and so fixed as to show the light 67.5 degrees from right aft on each side of the vessel.
RULE 22 - Visibility of lights
The lights prescribed in these Rules shall have an intensity as specified in Annex I to these Rules, so as to be visible at the following minimum ranges:(a) In a vessel of 50 meters or more in length:
−a masthead light, 6 miles;−a sidelight, 3 miles;− a sternlight, 3 miles;− a towing light, 3 miles; − a white, red, green or yellow all-round light, 3 miles; and− a special flashing light, 2 miles.
(b) In a vessel of 12 meters or more in length but less than 50 meters in length:
− a masthead light, 5 miles; except that where the length of the vessel is less than 20 meters, 3 miles; −a sidelight, 2 miles; −a sternlight, 2 miles;−a towing light, 2 miles; −a white, red, green or yellow all-round light, 2 miles; and−a special flashing light, 2 miles.
(c) In a vessel of less than 12 meters in length:−a masthead light, 2 miles; −a sidelight, 1 mile; −a sternlight, 2 miles;−a towing light, 2 miles; −a white, red, green or yellow all-round light, 2 miles; and−a special flashing light, 2 miles.
RULE 23 - Power-driven vessels underway
(a) A power-driven vessel underway shall exhibit: (i) a masthead light forward;(ii) a second masthead light abaft of and higher than the forward one; except that a vessel of less than 50 meters in length shall not be obliged to exhibit such light but may do so;(iii) sidelights; and(iv) a sternlight
Air-cushion vessel when operating in the nondisplacement mode - vessel less than 50 meters in length. Same for Inland.
(c) A power-driven vessel of less than 12 meters in length may, in lieu of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule, exhibit an allround white light and sidelights.
(d) A power-driven vessel when operating on the Great Lakes may carry an all-round white light in lieu of the second masthead light and sternlight prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule. The light shall be carried in the position of the second masthead light and be visible at the same minimum range.
RULE 24 - Towing and pushing
(a) A power-driven vessel when towing astern shall exhibit: (i) instead of the light prescribed either in Rule 23(a)(i) or 23(a)(ii), two masthead lights in a vertical line. When the length of the tow, measuring from the stern of the towing vessel to the after end of the tow exceeds 200 meters, three such lights in a vertical line; (ii) sidelights;(iii) a sternlight; (iv) a towing light in a vertical line above the sternlight; and (v) when the length of the tow exceeds 200 meters, a diamond shape where it can best be seen.
(b) 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 exhibit the lights prescribed in Rule 23.
(d) A power-driven vessel to which paragraphs (a) or (c) of this Rule apply shall also comply with Rule 23(a)(i) and 23(a)(ii).
(e) A vessel or object other than those referred to in paragraph (g) of this rule being towed shall exhibit:(i) sidelights;(ii) a sternlight; and(iii) when the length of the tow exceeds 200 meters, a diamond shape where it can best be seen.
(f) Provided that any number of vessels being towed alongside or pushed in a group shall be lighted as one vessel, except as provided in paragraph (iii):
(g) An inconspicuous, partly submerged vessel or object being towed shall exhibit:(i) if it is less than 25 meters in breadth, one all-round white light at or near each end;
RULE 25 - Sailing vessels underway and vessels under oars
(a) A sailing vessel underway shall exhibit: (i) sidelights; and (ii) a sternlight.
(b) In a sailing vessel of less than 20 meters in length the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule may be combined in one lantern carried at or near the top of the mast where it can best be seen
RULE 26 - Fishing vessels
(c) A vessel engaged in fishing, other than trawling, shall exhibit: (i) two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being red and the lower white, or a shape consisting of two cones with apexes together in a vertical line one above the other;(ii) when there is outlying gear extending more than 150 meters horizontally from the vessel, an all-round white light or a cone apex upward in the direction of the gear; and (iii) when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph, sidelights and a sternlight.
(d) The additional signals described in Annex II to these Rules apply to a vessel engaged in fishing in close proximity to other vessels engaged in fishing.
RULE 27 - Vessels not under command or restricted in their ability to manoeuvre
(a) A vessel not under command shall exhibit: (i) two all-round red lights in a vertical line where they can best be seen;(ii) two balls or similar shapes in a vertical line where they can best be seen; and (iii) when making way through the water, in addition to the lights prescribed in this paragraph, sidelights and a sternlight.
(c) A vessel engaged in a towing operation which severely restricts the towing vessel and her tow in their ability to deviate from their course shall, in addition to the lights or shapes prescribed in subparagraphs (b)(i) and (ii) of this Rule, exhibit the lights or shape prescribed in Rule 24.
(f) A vessel engaged in mine clearance operations shall, in addition to the lights prescribed for a power-driven vessel in Rule 23 or to the lights or shape prescribed for a vessel at anchor in Rule 30, as appropriate, exhibit three all-round green lights or three balls. One of these lights or shapes shall be exhibited near the foremast head and one at each end of the fore yard. These lights or shapes indicate that it is dangerous for another vessel to approach within 1000 meters of the mine clearance vessel.
RULE 28 - Vessels constrained by their draught
RULE 29 - Pilot vessels
(a) A vessel engaged on pilotage duty shall exhibit: (i) at or near the masthead, two all-round lights in a vertical line, the upper being white and the lower red; (ii) when underway, in addition, sidelights and a sternlight; and (iii) when at anchor, in addition to the lights prescribed in subparagraph (b)(i), the anchor light, lights, or shape prescribed in Rule 30 for anchored vessels.
RULE 30 - Anchored vessels and vessels aground
(a) A vessel at anchor shall exhibit where it can best be seen: (i) in the fore part, an all-round white light or one ball; and (ii) at or near the stern and at a lower level than the light prescribed in subparagraph (i), an all-round white light.
(b) A vessel of less than 50 meters in length may exhibit an all-round white light where it can best be seen instead of the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) of this Rule.
(d) A vessel aground shall exhibit the lights prescribed in paragraph (a) or (b) of this Rule and in addition, if practicable, where they can best be seen:
RULE 31 - Seaplanes
RULE 32 - Definitions
(a) The word “whistle” means any sound signaling appliance capable of producing the prescribed blasts and which complies with specifications in Annex lIl to these Rules.
(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.
RULE 33 - Equipment for sound signals
(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
RULE 34 -Manoeuvering and warning signals
(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:
(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: one flash to mean “I intend to leave you on my port side”; two flashes to mean“I intend to leave you on my starboard side”; three flashes to mean “I am operating astern propulsion”;(ii) The duration of each flash shall be about 1 second; 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 danger signal prescribed in paragraph (d).
RULE 35 -Sound signals in restricted visibility.
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 manoeuver, 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.
(h) 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.
RULE 36 -Signals to attract attention
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.
RULE 37 -Distress signals
When a vessel is in distress and requires assistance she shall use or exhibit the signals described in Annex IV to these Regulations.