Anchorage Grounds; Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean, Delaware

 
CONTENT
Federal Register, Volume 84 Issue 230 (Friday, November 29, 2019)
[Federal Register Volume 84, Number 230 (Friday, November 29, 2019)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 65727-65728]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2019-25854]
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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
Coast Guard
33 CFR Part 110
[Docket Number USCG-2019-0822]
Anchorage Grounds; Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean, Delaware
AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.
ACTION: Notice of inquiry; request for comments.
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SUMMARY: The Coast Guard is considering amending its regulations to
establish new anchorage grounds in the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
We are considering this action after receiving requests suggesting
additional anchorage grounds are necessary to accommodate current and
future vessel traffic, improve navigation safety, and because
traditional anchorage areas may not be available due to planned or
potential offshore wind energy development. We invite your comments on
whether we should initiate a rulemaking to amend our existing anchorage
regulations based on this, or if the status quo should be maintained or
other actions considered.
DATES: Your comments and related material must reach the Coast Guard on
or before January 28, 2020.
ADDRESSES: You may submit comments identified by docket number USCG-
2019-0822 using the Federal portal at https://www.regulations.gov. See
the ``Public Participation and Request for Comments'' portion of the
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section for further instructions on
submitting comments.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions about this
notice of inquiry, call or email Marine Science Technician Second Class
(MST2) Thomas Welker, Sector Delaware Bay, U.S. Coast Guard; telephone
(215) 271-4814, email [email protected]; or Mr. Jerry Barnes,
Fifth Coast Guard District (dpw), U.S. Coast Guard; telephone (757)
398-6230, email [email protected].
SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
I. Table of Abbreviations
ACPARS Atlantic Coast Port Access Study
BOEM Bureau of Ocean Energy Management
CFR Code of Federal Regulations
FR Federal Register
OCS Outer Continental Shelf
WGS84 World Geodetic System 1984
II. Background and Purpose
    The Coast Guard is considering amending its regulations to
establish new anchorage grounds in the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean.
Our authority to establish anchorage grounds comes from 33 U.S.C. 471.
    The Delaware Bay and River supports a diverse marine transportation
system which includes the ports of Wilmington, DE; New Castle, DE;
Philadelphia, PA; Camden-Gloucester City, NJ; and serves as an entry
point for vessels bound for the port of Baltimore, MD, through the
Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Global trends in shipping indicate
carriers continue to invest in larger vessels and these vessels are
arriving at Delaware River ports. A river deepening project is nearing
completion that will increase the Federal project depth from 40 to 45
feet from Philadelphia, PA, and Camden, NJ, to the mouth of the
Delaware Bay. Large vessels bound for Delaware River ports often wait
offshore at anchor in unregulated areas between the Eastern Directed
Traffic area and Southeastern Directed Traffic Area, or in various
places along the dredged channel through the lower bay. Vessels anchor
for a broad range of purposes including taking on stores, transferring
of personnel, engaging in bunkering operations, or lightering.
Designated anchorage grounds are available and regulations covering the
use of these anchorages are set out in 33 CFR 110.157. These anchorage
regulations were last revised in November 2016 to eliminate unusable
anchorage grounds and provide additional usable grounds to support port
demands and enhance navigation safety. See Final Rule published in the
Federal Register on November 25, 2016 (81 FR 85157).
    In 2016, the Coast Guard published a notice of its Atlantic Coast
Port Access Route Study (ACPARS) (81 FR 13307, March 14, 2016) that
analyzed the Atlantic Coast waters seaward of existing port approaches
within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and announced the report as
final in 2017 (82 FR 16510, April 5, 2017). This multiyear study began
in 2011, included public participation, and identified the navigation
routes customarily followed by ships engaged in commerce between
international and domestic U.S. ports. See https://navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=PARSReports. During the study, the Coast Guard received
comments from interested stakeholders addressing cumulative impacts of
wind energy areas and potential conflicts with traditional navigation
routes and uses of the waters. As wind energy areas are developed and
distribution cables installed, vessel traffic may be displaced or
funneled into smaller areas, and available anchorage areas may be
decreased. This increased vessel density may cause the mixing of vessel
types and speeds while also changing the geometry of interactions as
vessels come within close range of each other. These changes may
increase the risk of collision, loss of property, loss of life, and
environmental damage. In the vicinity of the entrance to the Delaware
Bay and River, the Coast Guard received requests from a Federal pilot
and the Mariners' Advisory Committee for the Delaware Bay and River to
establish two new regulated anchorages in the Atlantic Ocean as
potential wind energy leases would remove traditional unregulated
anchorage areas from use.
    In 2018, the Coast Guard held meetings with maritime stakeholders
to discuss global shipping trends, wind energy areas and potential
conflicts with traditional uses of the waters in the vicinity of the
entrance to the Delaware Bay and River. Attendance included the Pilots'
Association for the Bay and River Delaware, the Mariners' Advisory
Committee for the Bay and River
[[Page 65728]]
Delaware, Interport Pilots Association, and port and terminal
representatives. These meetings provided valued insight toward the need
for additional anchorage grounds to accommodate current and future
vessel traffic, improve navigation safety, and facilitate continued
growth of Delaware River ports and associated economic activity.
    Potential anchorage grounds discussed included the two anchorage
areas requested during the ACPARS study as well as a third in the lower
bay. Following the naming convention in 33 CFR 110.157, these
anchorages were notionally referred to as Anchorage B--Breakwater,
Anchorage C--Cape Henlopen, and Anchorage D--Indian River.
    Anchorage B--Breakwater is notionally located in the Delaware Bay
beginning approximately 2.5 miles north of Cape Henlopen, DE, includes
areas traditionally used by vessels for anchoring, and is in naturally
deep water with charted depths between 50 and 77 feet. The anchorage
grounds as contemplated include the waters bounded by a line connecting
the following points:
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              Latitude                            Longitude
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38[deg]52'44.43'' N                  75[deg]06'43.93'' W
38[deg]52'06.27'' N                  75[deg]05'46.69'' W
38[deg]51'19.83'' N                  75[deg]5'42.73'' W
38[deg]50'45.99'' N                  75[deg]06'15.49'' W
38[deg]52'44.43'' N                  75[deg]08'40.57'' W
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(DATUM: WGS84)
    Anchorage C--Cape Henlopen is notionally located in the Atlantic
Ocean approximately 9.4 miles east of the Delaware coast and is in
naturally deep water with charted depths between 41 and 85 feet. The
anchorage ground includes areas anticipated to be used by vessels for
anchoring once offshore wind energy areas are developed. The anchorage
grounds as contemplated include the waters bounded by a line connecting
the following points:
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              Latitude                            Longitude
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38[deg]40'54.03'' N                  74[deg]52'00.01'' W
38[deg]40'56.11'' N                  74[deg]48'51.35'' W
38[deg]37'36.03'' N                  74[deg]48'30.01'' W
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(DATUM: WGS84)
    Anchorage D--Indian River is notionally located in the Atlantic
Ocean beginning approximately 6 miles east of the Delaware coast,
includes areas traditionally used by vessels for anchoring, and is in
naturally deep water with charted depths between 40 and 85 feet. The
frequency of vessels using the anchorage grounds is anticipated to
increase once offshore wind energy areas are developed. These anchorage
grounds as contemplated include the waters bounded by a line connecting
the following points:
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              Latitude                            Longitude
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38[deg]34'56.28'' N                  74[deg]52'19.13'' W
38[deg]33'40.94'' N                  74[deg]54'41.51'' W
38[deg]31'31.11'' N                  74[deg]55'27.97'' W
38[deg]29'07.38'' N                  74[deg]53'29.26'' W
38[deg]28'56.90'' N                  74[deg]50'28.70'' W
38[deg]30'07.40'' N                  74[deg]48'08.39'' W
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(DATUM: WGS84)
    We are considering amending our regulations to establish these
three notional anchorages. You may find illustrations of these notional
anchorages in the docket where indicated under ADDRESSES. Additionally,
the notional anchorages are available for viewing on the Mid-Atlantic
Ocean Data Portal at http://portal.midatlanticocean.org/visualize/. See
the ``Maritime'' portion of the Data Layers section.
III. Information Requested
    We seek your comments on whether we should consider a proposed
rulemaking to establish additional regulated anchorage grounds in the
Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean. In particular, the Coast Guard
requests your input to determine to what extent the notional
anchorages, Anchorage B--Breakwater, Anchorage C--Cape Henlopen, and
Anchorage D--Indian River would accommodate current and future vessel
traffic, improve navigation safety, and facilitate continued growth of
Delaware River ports, offshore renewable energy and associated economic
activity; or if the status quo should be maintained, or other actions
should be considered.
IV. Public Participation and Request for Comments
    We encourage you to submit comments through the Federal portal at
https://www.regulations.gov. If your material cannot be submitted using
https://www.regulations.gov, contact the person in the FOR FURTHER
INFORMATION CONTACT section of this document for alternate
instructions. In your submission, please include the docket number for
this notice of inquiry and provide a reason for each suggestion or
recommendation.
    We accept anonymous comments. All comments received will be posted
without change to https://www.regulations.gov and will include any
personal information you have provided. For more about privacy and
submissions in response to this document, see DHS's Correspondence
System of Records notice (84 FR 48645, September 26, 2018).
    Documents mentioned in this notice of inquiry as being available in
the docket, and all public comments, will be in our online docket at
https://www.regulations.gov and can be viewed by following that
website's instructions.
    Dated: November 22, 2019.
Keith M. Smith,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Fifth Coast Guard District.
[FR Doc. 2019-25854 Filed 11-27-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 9110-04-P