Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. See the "Public Participation and Request for Comments" portion of the
We encourage you to submit comments and related material on the rulemaking petition for a special load line exemption on the Gulf of Mexico. All comments received will be posted, without change, to
If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this notice (USCG-2011-0925) and provide a reason for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and material online, or by fax, mail or hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. We recommend that you include your name and a mailing address, an email address, or a telephone number in the body of your document so that we can contact you if we have questions regarding your submission.
To submit your comment online, go to
To view the petition and comments that have been submitted to the docket, go to
Anyone can search the electronic form of comments received into any of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, labor union, etc.). You may review a Privacy Act, system of records notice regarding our public dockets in the January 17, 2008, issue of the
The rulemaking petition requests that the Coast Guard establish a special load line-exempted route along the west coast of Florida, which would allow non-load line river barges to transit to/from Tampa Bay. The action requested by the petition pertains to current load line regulations, the extent of the Boundary Line in the Gulf of Mexico, and the use of non-load line river barges on a coastwise route. These are discussed further below.
Furthermore, the vessel must be surveyed annually (by a surveyor from the load line assigning authority) to verify that all of these features are maintained in operable condition, and that no damage or modification has been done to the vessel that compromises its seaworthiness. The benefit in meeting these requirements is that the vessel is considered safe and seaworthy enough for offshore voyages, even under severe weather conditions. This gives the
Because river barges are not exposed to any sea conditions, they are not typically constructed to meet the load line standards for coastwise or offshore service. Although this makes them less expensive to build and operate, they do not qualify for load line assignment and therefore are not normally permitted to operate outside the Boundary Line.
(More information on load lines and the Boundary Line can be found on the Coast Guard's load line Web site at:
However, there is a stretch of shallow water—as denoted by the 12-foot water depth contour—extending ten to twelve miles offshore along the western coast of Florida between Crystal River and Tarpon Springs. These water depths are relatively shallow for commercial shipping, and severely constrict the non-load line corridor. To stay within sufficient depth of water along this shallow stretch, a vessel may need to transit outside the Boundary Line, thereby necessitating a load line assignment.
The petition also discusses the “M-10 Marine Highway Corridor.” This pertains to a transportation study by the U.S. Department of Transportation Maritime Administration (MarAd) of coastal shipping routes that could be utilized to alleviate trucking congestion on overland highways (in this case, the I-10 interstate corridor through the Gulf coast states). More information on America's Marine Highway Program is posted on the MarAd AMH Web site at:
Although river barges are not normally permitted to operate outside the U.S. Boundary Line, there are a few limited routes where they are permitted to operate under restricted conditions. The exemption proposed in the Parker Towing petition is similar to a load line exemption regime established for river barges operating on Lake Michigan (per 46 CFR 45.171,
In deciding whether or not to move forward with the requested rulemaking, the Coast Guard must consider several issues: the safety of the operation, protection of the marine environment, resource demands on the Coast Guard (particularly compliance verification and enforcement), and the potential economic costs and benefits.
Public comments on these issues, as well as other points that are pertinent to this petition, are encouraged. Upon review, the Coast Guard will decide whether or not to proceed with a rulemaking to establish the proposed exempted route.
This notice is issued under authority of 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 46 U.S.C. 5108.