USCG Propeller Safety Regulations Timeline / History

Since the mid 1990’s the United States Coast Guard has published several notices concerning proposed regulations involving propeller guards & other propeller safety devices, and requested public input on those proposals. While much of the focus has been on propeller guards, other propeller safety devices have also been discussed. Among them are swim ladder interlock switches, backup alarms, mirrors, swim gate switches, kill switches, virtual kill switches, starter delays (beeps for a few seconds before starts), and rear view cameras.

Propeller Solutions Propeller Guard

Propeller Solutions Propeller Guard

The announcements have been published in the Federal Register.

A few notices have only requested comments, however, most of them refer to a proposed rule. When notices of a proposed rule are first published, they are typically marked as a “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (NPRM) or as an “Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” (ANPRM).

The process appears to have been less defined prior to 1998. The Coast Guard was using its own set of docket numbers and reused one of them several times as a rental boat propeller safety project continued to evolve. USCG opened and closed public comment periods numerous times, renamed the proposal a few times, then finally renumbered the proposal under the new docket system in order to archive the records.

In this post we bring all those notices together and post them as a timeline.

Dates of Notices in the timeline below refer to Federal Register published notice dates.

USCG Propeller Safety Regulation Timeline

Propeller Accidents Involving Houseboats and Other Displacement Type Recreational Vessels
CGD 95-041 was later renamed USCG-2001-10299

  • 11 May 1995 request for comments
  • 10 Jul 1995 comments closed
  • 9 Aug 1995 Propeller Accidents Involving Houseboats and Other Displacement Type Vessels – extended comment period
  • 26 Sep 1995 announced availability of the 1989 NBSAC propeller guard subcommittee report
  • 7 Nov 1995 comments closed
  • 26 March 1996 ANPRM as Propeller Injury Prevention Aboard Rental Boats w/more focused questions and announced a series of public hearings
    • 22 Apr 1996 Public Comment Hearing Panama City FL
    • 29 Apr 1996 Public Comment Hearing San Francisco CA
    • 1 May 1996 Public Comment Hearing Rockport ME
    • 6 May 1996 Public Comment Hearing Washington D.C.
    • 19 May 1996 Public Comment Hearing New Orleans LA
  • 1 September 1996 comments closed
  • 28 Apr 1997 Propeller Injury Prevention Involving Rented Boats – solicited comments on specific devices & interventions
  • 28 July 1997 comments closed
  • 21 Aug 1997 extended comment period
  • 17 February 1998 comments closed
  • 10 Dec 2001 withdrawn for lack of sufficient data for the proposals at that time

Federal Requirements for Propeller Injury Avoidance Measures

  • 10 Dec 2001 NPRM
  • 11 Mar 2002 comments closed
  • 26 Mar 2002 reopen comment period
  • 11 May 2002 comments closed
  • 18 Oct 2007 withdrawn

Installation and Use of Engine Cut-off Switches on Recreational Vessels
USCG 2009-0206

  • 8 June 2011 ANPRM (inadvertently published in the rules section)
  • 17 June 2011 reprinted in Proposed Rules Section
  • 6 Sep 2011 comments closed
  • Still active as of mid January 2013

Recreational Vessel Propeller Strike and Carbon Monoxide Casualty Prevention

  • 26 Aug 2011 ANPRM
  • 25 Nov 2011 comments closed
  • Still active as of mid January 2013

We took the four major regulatory proposals above, along with the currently ongoing Propeller Guard Test Protocol, and plotted them as a timeline. If you click on the resulting chart below, you will be presented with a larger pdf version of the USCG Propeller Safety Proposal Timeline.

Timeline of propeller safety regulations proposed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Timeline of propeller safety regulations proposed by the U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard Office of Boating Safety was involved in several other propeller guard & propeller safety related activities during this era. Among USCG’s other propeller safety projects were:

  • Commissioning the Miller & Grieser boarding ladder study
  • Commissioning the two Milligan & Tennant propeller guard studies
  • Commissioning the ABYC boarding ladder study
  • The semi-annual Accident Mitigation Meetings established in 2003
  • The Propeller Injury Awareness brochures
  • The Don’t Wreck Your Summer Public Service Announcement (PSA)
  • The 2006 Propeller Injury Avoidance Workshop
  • Continuing to refine the Boating Accident Report Database (BARD)
  • The semi-annual National Boating Safety Advisory Council (NBSAC) meetings
  • Ongoing development of the Propeller Guard Test Protocol
  • Plus, let’s never forget the Coast Guard’s presence on the water in rescue and law enforcement activities

Leave a Reply