U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: May 23, 2024

§ 162.75 - All waterways tributary to the Gulf of Mexico (except the Mississippi River, its tributaries, South and Southwest Passes and Atchafalaya River) from St. Marks, Fla., to the Rio Grande.

(a) The regulations in this section shall apply to:

(1) Waterways. All navigable waters of the U.S. tributary to or connected by other waterways with the Gulf of Mexico between St. Marks, Fla., and the Rio Grande, Tex. (both inclusive), and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway; except the Mississippi River, its tributaries, South and Southwest Passes, and the Atchafalaya River above its junction with the Morgan City-Port Allen Route.

(2) Bridges, wharves, and other structures. All bridges, wharves, and other structures in or over these waterways.

(3) Vessels. The term “vessels” as used in this section includes all floating craft other than rafts.

(b) Waterways:

(1) A clear channel shall at all times be left open to permit free and unobstructed navigation by all types of vessels and tows normally using the various waterways covered by the regulations of this section

(2) Fairway: The District Commander may specify the width of the fairway required in the various waterways under his charge.

(3) Anchoring or mooring:

(i) Vessels or tows shall not anchor or moor in any of the land cuts or other narrow parts of the waterway, except in an emergency, or with permission of the District Commander. Whenever it becomes necessary for a vessel or tow to stop in any such portions of the waterway, it shall be securely fastened to one bank and as close to the bank as possible. This shall be done only at such a place and under such conditions as will not obstruct or prevent the passage of other vessels or tows. Stoppages shall be only for such periods as may be necessary.

(ii) When tied up individually, all vessels and tows shall be moored by bow and stern lines. Tows shall be secured at sufficiently frequent intervals to insure their not being drawn away form the bank by winds, currents, or the suction of passing vessels. Lines shall be shortened so that the various barges in a tow will be as close together as possible.

(iii) Lights shall be displayed in accordance with provisions of the Inland Navigation Rules (33 CFR Subchapter E).

(iv) Whenever any vessel or tow is moored to the bank (paragraph (b)(3)(i) of this section) at least one crew member shall always remain on board to see that proper signals are displayed and that the vessel or tow is properly moored at all times.

(v) No vessel, regardless of size, shall anchor in a dredged channel or narrow portion of a waterway for the purpose of fishing if navigation is obstructed thereby.

(4) Speed: Speeding in narrow sections is prohibited. Official signs indicating limited speeds shall be obeyed. Vessels shall reduce speed sufficiently to prevent damage when passing other vessels or structures in or along the waterway.

(5) Size, assembly, and handling of tows:

(i) On waterways 150 feet wide or less, tows which are longer than 1,180 feet, including the towing vessel, but excluding the length of the hawser, or wider than one-half of the bottom width of the channel or 55 feet, whichever is less will not be allowed, except when the District Commander has given special permission or the waterway has been exempted from these restrictions by the District Commander. Before entering any narrow section of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, tows in excess of one-half the channel width, or 55 feet, will be required to stand by until tows which are less than one-half the channel width or 55 feet wide have cleared the channel. When passing is necessary in narrow channels, overwidth tows shall yield to the maximum. Separate permission must be received from the District Commander for each overlength or overwidth movement. In addition, the following exceptions are allowed:

(ii) Gulf Intracoastal Waterway—Between mile 6.2 EHL (Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Lock) and mile 33.6 EHL tows of 78 feet in width will be allowed.

(iii) Gulf Intercoastal Waterway—Between mile 33.6 EHL and the Mobile Bay Ship Channel, tows of 108 feet in width will be allowed if under 750 feet in length including the towboat but excluding the length of the hawser.

(iv) Gulf Intracoastal Waterway—Mobile Bay Ship Channel to St. Marks, Fla., for tows made up of empty barges on the off or shallow side, a width of 75 feet will be allowed.

(v) All vessels pulling tows not equipped with rudders in restricted channels and land cuts shall use two towlines, or a bridle on one towline, shortened as much as safety of the towing vessel permits, so as to have maximum control at all times. The various parts of a tow shall be securely assembled with the individual units connected by lines as short as practicable. In open water, the towlines and fastenings between barges may be lengthened so as to accommodate the wave surge. In the case of lengthy or cumbersome tows, or tows in restricted channels, the District Commander may require that tows be broken up, and may require the installation of a rudder or other approved steering device on the tow in order to avoid obstructing navigation or damaging the property of others. Pushing barges with towing vessel astern, towing barges with towing vessel alongside, or pushing and pulling barges with units of the tow made up both ahead and astern of the towing vessel are permissible provided that adequate power is employed to keep the tows under full control at all times. No tow shall be drawn by a vessel that has insufficient power or crew to permit ready maneuverability and safe handling.

(vi) All tows navigating the Pass Manchac bridges in Louisiana are limited to no more than two barges, not to exceed a combined tow length of 400 feet (excluding the towboat). Vessel operators for tows exceeding these limits must request and receive permission from the COTP New Orleans prior to navigating the bridges. Requests should be made by telephoning the COTP at 504-365-2200 or 504-365-2545. Any decision made by the COTP is final agency action.

(6) Projections from vessels: Vessels or tows carrying a deck load which overhangs or projects over the side, or whose rigging projects over the side, so as to endanger passing vessels, wharves, or other property, shall not enter or pass through any of the narrow parts of the waterway without prior approval of the District Commander.

(7) Meeting and passing: Passing vessels shall give the proper signals and pass in accordance with the Inland Navigation Rules (33 CFR Subchapter E), where applicable. At certain intersections where strong currents may be encountered, sailing directions may be issued through navigation bulletins or signs posted on each side of the intersections.


The Corps of Engineers also has regulations dealing with this section in 33 CFR 207.

[CGD 75-082, 42 FR 51759, Sept. 29, 1977, as amended by CGD 78-050, 45 FR 43167, June 26, 1980; USCG-2000-7223, 65 FR 40058, June 29, 2000; USCG-2008-0179, 73 FR 35016, June 19, 2008; USCG-2015-0433, 80 FR 44282, July 27, 2015; USCG-2022-0323, 88 FR 10029, Feb. 16, 2023]