Security Zone Violation Disrupts Houston Ship Channel

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

USCG Vessel Traffic Service Houston
Harold C. Sanchez , an Operations Specialist Third Class, directs inbound and outbound traffic in the Houston Ship Channel

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.”