Santa Rita, GU— U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam is scheduled to hold a public meeting regarding a proposed change to the safety zone around Naval Wharf Kilo from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Ricardo J. Bordallo Governor’s Complex, Adelup, in the main conference room on 23 March 2017. Media and the public are invited.
U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam put forth a proposed rule to add a permanent safety zone of 500 yards around Naval Wharf Kilo located near the mouth of Apra Harbor. This change is proposed in light of an impact review on the maritime community regarding the current safety zones around the wharf. On February 2015, the U.S. Coast Guard disestablished the 680 yard permanent safety zone around Naval Wharf Kilo and replaced it with safety zones A (at 1,000 yards) and B (at 1,400 yards) to be enforced when required conditions were met at the wharf. Over the past two years, the safety zones were in place an average of 267 days a year.
Regarding the impact on the maritime community, enforcement of these two zones restricts access to popular dive sites on the southern portion of Apra Harbor for an average of 267 days. Of those 267 days, the eastern side of the channel along the Glass Breakwater was affected for approximately 50 days.
Under the proposed rule, the shift to a permanent 500 yard safety zone around Naval Wharf Kilo will allow the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure public safety when the hazards are minimal and allow for greater utilization of the popular dive sites: Finger Reef, Sponge Reef and Becky’s Reef. It is anticipated that the change under this rule could increase the ability to utilize the reefs up to 100 additional days per year, meaning the safety zones may be in place for 167 days annually.
Current enforcement of the 1,000 yard and 1,400 yard safety zones around Naval Wharf Kilo requires all mariners transiting through the mouth of Apra Harbor to contact the U.S. Coast Guard Command Center prior to entering the safety zones. With the decrease in enforcement days of the zones, this change in the rule is expected to drastically reduce the need for mariners to contact the Command Center regarding this matter. The Notice of proposed rulemaking can be read on the Federal Register at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/04/2016-31894/safety-zone-apra-harbor-guam