Inland Waterways – Retro Reflective Tape Requirement for Buoys and Navigational Aids
In the United States, there are 25,000 miles of inland waterways. The majority of these are in the eastern part of the country. The Great Loop is part of this system and is a 6,000 mile track that takes you from Pensacola Florida, all the way around the tip of the state, up the eastern seaboard to, to New York City, Toronto, Detroit, Chicago, down the Mississippi and back down through the inland waterways to Pensacola.
The United States Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) is tasked with managing and maintaining America’s waterways. Throughout this vast system of waterways, you will find buoys, markers, and other navigational aids. These too are placed and maintained by the USACE. The following is a quote from the US Coast Guard.
“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulates the placement of mooring buoys in all navigable U.S. waters. Those wishing to establish mooring buoys need to contact their local Army Corps of Engineers.”
With this being said, it the US Coast Guard itself that sets standards for these navigational aids. This is true when it comes to marking buoys and navigational aids with retro reflective sheeting or tape. The pdf files below outline these regulations.
PDF Document #1 is the UNITED STATES COAST GUARD SHORE INFRASTRUCTURE LOGISTICS CENTER WATERWAYS OPERATIONS PRODUCT LINE – HIGH INTENSITY RETROREFLECTIVE FILMS FOR USE ON MARINE AIDS-TO-NAVIGATION – SPECIFICATION NO. 393 – October 2018. This is the main regulation given by the Coast Guard that specifies what type of retro reflective sheeting, tape or letters to use on Navigational Aids.
PDF Document #2 is the United States Coast Guard 33 CFR 60 which is title SUBCHAPTER C—AIDS TO NAVIGATION. This part describes the general characteristics of the U.S. Aids to Navigation System, and the details, policies and procedures employed by the Coast Guard in establishing, maintaining, operating, changing or discontinuing Federal aids to navigation. Regulations concerning the marking of wrecks, structures, and other obstructions are found in 33 CFR part 64.
PDF Document #3 is the United States Coast Guard 33 CFR 66 which deals with private navigational aids. These are buoys and navigational aids in private waterway areas. They are allowed, but are still governed and regulated by the Coast Guard. Below that is PDF #4. A pictorial of the different kinds of markers.
Pictures of Various Buoys and Markers are below.
Steven Cole (Economics, MBA – University of West Florida , Business & Innovation – Stanford University) 25 years of experience in the reflective safety business. Specializing in vehicle accident and rear end collision reduction through increased visibility.