Propeller Guard Test Procedure Released by U.S. Coast Guard

Many years in the making, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) released the final version of the Propeller Guard Test Procedure / Protocol today, September 11, 2013.

The US Coast Guard news release quotes USCG’s Phil Cappel as saying, “The report provides the means to evaluate the boat performance characteristics and the level of protection of personnel in the water resulting from the installation of a propeller guard on a particular sterndrive or outboard-powered recreational boat.”

USCG Propeller Guard Test Protocol

USCG Propeller Guard Test Protocol

One interesting note, the release says the test equipment required to conduct the testing will be loaned out on a first come, first served basis for the cost of shipping and insurance.

The procedure is scheduled for review in about 3 years, or earlier if necessary.

The actual test procedure is at Propeller Guard Test Protocol.

USCG says the test procedure was developed to be used by propeller guard safety device developers and independent third party testing firms to test propeller guards in a consistent, repeatable manner.

Our Quick Thoughts

We have not yet had an opportunity to read the final version.

Its “appearance” is vastly different than a version that was released October 4, 2012 with a request for comment, then killed on October 10, 2012 with this USCG statement in an email to those who had previously reviewed the prop guard test procedure / protocol:

“Following recent briefings and our request for your review of the “Test Protocol for Evaluating Propeller Guarding Methods” the ABYC/CED team received direction from the U.S. Coast Guard to clarify the testing methods. To avoid unproductive use of your valuable time, please disregard our recent request for peer review. We plan to make the requested adjustments and submit a revised draft for peer review in the near future. The peer review request and updated draft will be distributed by email to the same distribution list as the October 4, 2012 request.

We don’t recall receiving a request to review any version of the protocol since October 2012. Now it shows up as a “final version”.

The new (final version) is much briefer (shorter) and looks a little more like a “standard”. For example, it opens by citing many other standards, and the steps and lines are numbered.

The earlier version included several charts of sample outputs (plots of speed vs. RPM, path around the course, etc.). Those are noticeably absent from the final version.

When we get some time we will try to study the Propeller Guard Test Procedure final version more closely and make some more comments at that time.

The propeller guard test procedure / protocol document is dated June 3, 2013.

We would anticipate this document being discussed in propeller accident court cases and exemplary boat prop guards being tested against it.

Our Initial Review of the Propeller Guard Test Procedure

A few days later we posted our initial review / analysis of the Propeller Guard Test Procedure.


  1. Hi there,
    I have been designing and manufacturing Propeller Guards since 1982, primarily initially for Surf Rescue Outboard Motors , in Australia Surf Lifesaving.
    Over time, obviously better materials and manufacturing methods allow for more efficient designs to be made.
    However, my designs and testing have been based on actual on board testing techniques and then making the adjustments accordingly.
    I have very successful (efficient ) guards, however, I would like to have access to an actual prop guard testing facility where I could work with the Lab to create the most efficient Rescue Prop guard for our Rescue Boat operators .
    Can you help me achieve this please.

    Kind a Regards
    Peter Hallett
    Midcoast Marine

  2. I replied by direct email to Mr. Hallet. He and Midcoast Marine have played a significant role in advancing & addressing propeller safety issues in Australia for many years.

Leave a Reply