Inland Waterways Navigation Regulations for Detroit River

The Coast Guard redefines the geographical points, which demarcate an area of the Detroit River in which certain vessels are restricted to speeds not greater than 12 statute miles per hour.

This rule will be effective November 14, 2012.

ADDRESSES: Documents mentioned in this preamble are part of docket [USCG-2011-1086]. To view documents mentioned in this preamble as being available in the docket, go to, type the docket number in the ``SEARCH'' box, and click ``Search.'' You may visit the Docket Management Facility, Department of Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this rule, call or email LT Adrian Palomeque, Prevention Department, Sector Detroit, Coast Guard; telephone (313) 568-9508, email If you have questions on viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Renee V. Wright, Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.

A. Regulatory History and Information

On May 8, 2012, we published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPMR) entitled Inland Waterways Navigation Regulations (77 FR 27007). We received 1 comment. Specifically, Lake Carriers' Association (LCA) submitted a letter on May 15, 2012 in which LCA offered its full support for this rulemaking as proposed in the NPRM. No other comments were received. No public meeting was requested, and none was held.

B. Basis and Purpose

As discussed in the aforesaid NPRM, representatives from LCA, the Lakes Pilots Association, the International Shipmasters Association, and the Canadian Shipowners Association previously made a request of the Coast Guard regarding 33 CFR Part 162. Particularly, these groups requested that the Coast Guard amend, via federal rulemaking, 33 CFR 162.138(a)(1)(ii), which requires vessels on the Detroit River north of the Detroit River Light to operate at no more than 12 statute miles per hour. In response to that request, the Coast Guard's Ninth District Commander, in consultation with the Captain of the Port, Sector Detroit, Windsor Port Authority, Transport Canada, and the Canadian Coast Guard, assessed the necessity and utility of the aforementioned regulatory provision and determined that the southern point of the restricted speed area in 33 CFR 162.138(a)(1)(ii) should be relocated to a point approximately 2.5 statute miles to the north at the D33 stationary light. The reasoning for the Ninth District Commander's decision is discussed in the following paragraph.

The speed restriction in 33 CFR 162.138(a)(1)(ii) requires vessels on the Detroit River north of the Detroit River Light to operate at no more than 12 statute miles per hour. This restriction serves two purposes. First, it is intended to prevent collisions and groundings. (See 33 CFR 162.130(a)). Second, it is intended to limit wake damage to vessels and shore structures (See 60 FR 35701-01). Because the Detroit River Light is several miles into Lake Erie and because the channel between the Detroit River Light and the D33 stationary light is roughly twelve-hundred feet wide, the Ninth District Commander has determined that limiting speed south of the D33 stationary light is not necessary to prevent wake damage or to prevent collisions and groundings. Thus, 33 CFR 162.138(a)(1)(ii), as currently written, serves as an unnecessary restriction on vessel operations. Moreover, this unnecessary restriction is exacerbated by the fact that upbound vessels must decelerate well in advance of the Detroit River Light in order to attain the maximum speed at the light itself.

Pursuant to the authority contained in the Ports and Waterways Safety Act, (33 U.S.C. 1221 et seq.), as delegated to the Commandant of the Coast Guard via Department of Homeland Security Delegation No. 0170.1 and to Coast Guard District Commanders pursuant to 33 CFR 1.05-1(e)(1)(vii), the Ninth District Commander is amending 33 CFR 162.138(a)(1)(ii) to alleviate unnecessary restrictions on commercial vessel operations.

C. Discussion of Comments, Changes, and the Final Rule

As mentioned above, only one comment was received in response to the NPRM published on May 8, 2012. In that comment, LCA offered its full support for the proposed rulemaking.

This Final Rule is identical to the rule proposed in that NPRM. As stated in the NPRM, because 33 CFR 162.138, as currently written, unnecessarily restricts commercial vessel operations, the Ninth District Commander is amending 33 CFR 162.138 to reduce the size of the restricted speed area currently delineated in 33 CFR 162.138(a)(1)(ii). Particularly, this rule relocates the southern point of the restricted speed area from its current location at the Detroit River Light to a new location near the D33 stationary light.

D. Regulatory Analyses

We developed this proposed rule after considering numerous statutes and executive orders related to rulemaking. Below we summarize our analyses based on these statutes or executive orders.

1. Regulatory Planning and Review

This rule is not a significant regulatory action under section 3(f) of Executive Order 12866, Regulatory Planning and Review, as supplemented by Executive Order 13563, Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review, and does not require an assessment of potential costs and benefits under section 6(a)(3) of Executive Order 12866 or under section 1 of Executive Order 13563. The Office of Management and Budget has not reviewed it under those Orders.

It is not ``significant'' under the regulatory policies and procedures of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). We conclude that this proposed rule is not a significant regulatory action because relocating the southern point of the restricted speed area delineated in 33 CFR 162.138(a)(1)(ii) will lessen navigation restrictions on the public and on private industry. Thus, we anticipate that it will not adversely affect the economy, will not interfere with other agencies, will not adversely alter the budget of any grant or loan recipients, and will not raise any novel legal or policy issues.

2. Impact on Small Entities

The Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980 (RFA), 5 U.S.C. 601-612, as amended, requires federal agencies to consider the potential impact of regulations on small entities during rulemaking. The term ``small entities'' comprises small businesses, not-for-profit organizations that are independently owned and operated and are not dominant in their fields, and governmental jurisdictions with populations of less than 50,000.

The Coast Guard received no comments from the Small Business Administration on this rule. The Coast Guard certifies under 5 U.S.C. 605(b) that this rule would not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule will affect the following entities, some of which might be small entities: The owners and operators of vessels intending to transit between the Detroit River Light and the D33 stationary. However, the relocation of the southern point of the restricted speed area delineated in 33 CFR 162.138(a)(1)(ii) will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because it will lessen navigation restrictions on the public and private industry.

3. Assistance for Small Entities

In keeping with section 213(a) of the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act of 1996 (Pub. L. 104-121), we want to assist small entities in understanding this rule. If the rule would affect your small business, organization, or governmental jurisdiction and you have questions concerning its provisions or options for compliance, please contact the person listed in the FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT, above.

Small businesses may send comments on the actions of Federal employees who enforce, or otherwise determine compliance with, Federal regulations to the Small Business and Agriculture Regulatory Enforcement Ombudsman and the Regional Small Business Regulatory Fairness Boards. The Ombudsman evaluates these actions annually and rates each agency's responsiveness to small business. If you wish to comment on actions by employees of the Coast Guard, call 1-888-REG-FAIR (1-888-734-3247). The Coast Guard will not retaliate against small entities that question or complain about this rule or any policy or action of the Coast Guard.