It seems like the VTS in Houston is working as advertised. You can’t just drive wherever you want down there without getting a visit from the local police. This just out from the Coast Guard in District 8:
Story by PA3 Mandy Emery, USCG
HOUSTON — The Coast Guard issued a violation to a recreational boat captain who failed to heave to after entering a Coast Guard-regulated security zone, Thursday, in the Houston Ship Channel.
Coast Guard Sector Houston’s Vessel Traffic Service detected the 38-foot boat illegally entering the security zone. A Houston Police Department marine division boatcrew intercepted the boat after ignoring repeated radio calls to stop.
A Coast Guard Station Houston boatcrew escorted the operator of the boat out of the security zone and issued the violation. Four other violations were issued due to the boat being out of compliance.
The owner of the boat was cited for entering a security zone without the Captain of the Port’s permission, a violation which carries a maximum potential penalty of 10 years imprisonment, $10,000, fine and or forfeiture of the vessel.
Recreational vessel owners are required to apply for a security zone entrance permit at least five days in advance of a planned voyage, in accordance with regulation 33 CFR 165.814.
“In order to provide proper maritime safety and security for the public and industry, security zones are established to ensure that only authorized vessels or persons can transit through key designated areas,” said Capt. James Whitehead, Captain of the Port for Sector Houston-Galveston. “Establishing specific security zone areas allows for better law enforcement monitoring and response by prohibiting unknown vessel traffic through the nation’s largest petrochemical complex. This provides safety to outlying communities while also ensuring vital maritime commerce is not inhibited.”