[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 234 (Friday, December 5, 2014)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 72157-72159]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2014-28672]



Coast Guard

33 CFR Part 167


Port Access Route Study: In the Chukchi Sea, Bering Strait and 
Bering Sea

AGENCY: Coast Guard, DHS.

ACTION: Notice of study; request for comments.


SUMMARY: This study is a continuation of and an expansion of scope to 
the Port Access Route Study (PARS) the Coast Guard announced in 2010. 
Based on comments received from the 2010 notice the Coast Guard has 
developed a potential vessel routing system for the area. The Coast 
Guard requests comments on how consolidating vessel traffic into a 
defined vessel routing system may impact or benefit the region. The 
goal of the study is to help reduce the risk of marine casualties and 
increase the efficiency of vessel traffic in the region. The 
recommendations of the study may lead to future rulemaking action or 
appropriate international agreements.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before June 3, 2015.

    Schematic of proposed vessel routing system: A chart showing the 
Coast Guard's proposed two-way route can be downloaded from http://www.regulations.gov, type ``USCG-2014-0941'' into the search bar and 
click search, next to the displayed search results click ``Open Docket 
Folder'', which will display all comments and documents associated with 
this docket.
    Comment submission: You may submit comments identified by docket 
number USCG-2014-0941 using any one of the following methods:

[[Page 72158]]

    (1) Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov.
    (2) Fax: 202-493-2251.
    (3) Mail: Docket Management Facility (M-30), U.S. Department of 
Transportation, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590-0001.
    (4) Hand delivery: Same as mail address above, between 9 a.m. and 5 
p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. The telephone 
number is 202-366-9329.
    To avoid duplication, please use only one of these four methods. 
See the ``Public Participation and Request for Comments'' portion of 
the SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION section below for instructions on 
submitting comments.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: If you have questions on this notice 
of study, call or email LT Kody Stitz, Seventeenth Coast Guard District 
(dpw); telephone (907) 463-2270; email [email protected] or Mr. 
David Seris, Seventeenth Coast Guard District (dpw); telephone (907) 
463-2267; email [email protected]. If you have questions on 
viewing or submitting material to the docket, call Cheryl F. Collins, 
Program Manager, Docket Operations, telephone 202-366-9826.


Public Participation and Request for Comments

    We encourage you to participate in this study by submitting 
comments and related materials. All comments received will be posted 
without change to http://www.regulations.gov and will include any 
personal information you have provided.

Submitting Comments

    If you submit a comment, please include the docket number for this 
notice of availability (USCG-2014-0941), indicate the specific section 
of this document to which each comment applies, and provide a reason 
for each suggestion or recommendation. You may submit your comments and 
material online (via http://www.regulations.gov) or by fax, mail, or 
hand delivery, but please use only one of these means. If you submit a 
comment online via www.regulations.gov, it will be considered received 
by the Coast Guard when you successfully transmit the comment. If you 
fax, hand deliver, or mail your comment, it will be considered as 
having been received by the Coast Guard when it is received at the 
Docket Management Facility. We recommend that you include your name and 
a mailing address, an email address, or a telephone number in the body 
of your document so that we can contact you if we have questions 
regarding your submission.
    To submit your comment online, go to http://www.regulations.gov, 
type ``USCG-2014-0941'' into the search bar and click search, next to 
the displayed search results click ``Comment Now'', which will open the 
comment page for this study. If you submit your comments by mail or 
hand delivery, submit them in an unbound format, no larger than 8.5 by 
11 inches, suitable for copying and electronic filing. If you submit 
comments by mail and would like to know that they reached the Facility, 
please enclose a stamped, self-addressed postcard or envelope. We will 
consider all comments and material received during the comment period.

Viewing Comments and Documents

    To view comments, as well as documents mentioned in this preamble 
as being available in the docket, go to http://www.regulations.gov, 
type ``USCG-2014-0941'' into the search bar and click search, next to 
the displayed search results click ``Open Docket Folder'', which will 
display all comments and documents associated with this docket. You may 
also visit the Docket Management Facility in Room W12-140 on the ground 
floor of the Department of Transportation West Building, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. We have an agreement 
with the Department of Transportation to use the Docket Management 

Privacy Act

    Anyone can search the electronic form of comments received into any 
of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or 
signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, 
business, labor union, etc.). You may review a Privacy Act notice 
regarding our public dockets in the January 17, 2008, issue of the 
Federal Register (73 FR 3316).

Public Meeting

    The Coast Guard will hold public meeting(s) if there is sufficient 
demand to warrant holding a meeting. You must submit a request for one 
on or before Month Day, Year (30 days from publish date) using one of 
the four methods specified under ADDRESSES. Please explain why you 
believe a public meeting would be beneficial. If we determine that a 
public meeting would aid in the study, we will hold a meeting at a time 
and place announced by a later notice in the Federal Register.


    The following definitions (except ``Regulated Navigation Area'') 
are from the International Maritime Organization's (IMO's) publication 
``Ships' Routeing'' Tenth Edition 2010 and should help you review this 
    Area to be avoided (ATBA) means a routing measure comprising an 
area within defined limits in which either navigation is particularly 
hazardous or it is exceptionally important to avoid casualties and 
which should be avoided by all ships, or certain classes of ships.
    Deep-water route means a route within defined limits, which has 
been accurately surveyed for clearance of sea bottom and submerged 
obstacles as indicated on the chart.
    Inshore traffic zone means a routing measure comprising a 
designated area between the landward boundary of a traffic separation 
scheme and the adjacent coast, to be used in accordance with the 
provisions of Rule 10(d), as amended, of the International Regulations 
for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (COLREGS).
    Precautionary area means a routing measure comprising an area 
within defined limits where ships must navigate with particular caution 
and within which the direction of traffic flow may be recommended.
    Recommended route means a route of undefined width, for the 
convenience of ships in transit, which is often marked by centerline 
    Recommended track is a route which has been specially examined to 
ensure so far as possible that it is free of dangers and along which 
vessels are advised to navigate.
    Regulated Navigation Area (RNA) means a water area within a defined 
boundary for which regulations for vessels navigating within the area 
have been established under 33 CFR part 165.
    Roundabout means a routing measure comprising a separation point or 
circular separation zone and a circular traffic lane within defined 
limits. Traffic within the roundabout is separated by moving in a 
counterclockwise direction around the separation point or zone.
    Separation zone or separation line means a zone or line separating 
the traffic lanes in which ships are proceeding in opposite or nearly 
opposite directions; or separating a traffic lane from the adjacent sea 
area; or separating traffic lanes designated for particular classes of 
ship proceeding in the same direction.

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    Traffic lane means an area within defined limits in which one-way 
traffic is established. Natural obstacles, including those forming 
separation zones, may constitute a boundary.
    Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) means a routing measure aimed at 
the separation of opposing streams of traffic by appropriate means and 
by the establishment of traffic lanes.
    Two-way route means a route within defined limits inside which two-
way traffic is established, aimed at providing safe passage of ships 
through waters where navigation is difficult or dangerous.
    Vessel routing system means any system of one or more routes or 
routing measures aimed at reducing the risk of casualties; it includes 
traffic separation schemes, two-way routes, recommended tracks, areas 
to be avoided, no anchoring areas, inshore traffic zones, roundabouts, 
precautionary areas, and deep-water routes.

Background and Purpose

Requirement for Port Access Route Studies

    Under the Ports and Waterways Safety Act (PWSA) (33 U.S.C. 
1223(c)), the Commandant of the Coast Guard may designate necessary 
fairways and traffic separation schemes (TSSs) to provide safe access 
routes for vessels proceeding to and from U.S. ports.

Port Access Route Study to Date

    The Coast Guard announced a port access route study in the Federal 
Register on November 8, 2010 (75 FR 68568). The purpose of the PARS was 
to solicit public comments on whether a vessel routing system such as a 
fairway or TSS was needed and if it could increase vessel safety in the 
area. The 2010 PARS was limited geographically in scope to a section of 
water extending approximately 100 nautical miles north of the Bering 
Strait into the Chukchi Sea to approximately 30 nautical miles south of 
St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea. At that time the Coast Guard did 
not propose a specific vessel routing system, but instead sought more 
general comments about whether a vessel routing system was needed or 
advisable in the study area. The Coast Guard received twenty five 
comments, and after reviewing them, determined that a vessel route 
needed to be proposed so more specific comments and concerns could be 
gathered and evaluated before determining if a routing system would be 
beneficial. The Coast Guard further determined that the study area 
should include a larger geographic area than was initially studied 
before finalizing the study and publishing the results.

Vessel Routing Comments to Date

    The Coast Guard received twenty five public comments during the 
open comment period associated with the 2010 announcement. Nearly all 
of the comments that addressed vessel routing were supportive of the 
Coast Guard creating and implementing some form of vessel routing 
measure in the area. Since no specific routing measure was proposed in 
2010, the comments received did note that precise concerns and impacts 
could only be identified after a specific route or measure was 

Reopening of the Comment Period

    This Federal Register notice announces the Coast Guard's intent to 
continue the PARS started in 2010, expand the study area and release 
the Coast Guard's proposed vessel routing system for comment. The Coast 
Guard's goal of the study remains the same in that the study is focused 
on gathering factual and relevant information to aid the Coast Guard in 
reducing the risk of marine casualties and increasing the efficiency of 
vessel traffic in the region.
    The study will assess whether the creation of a vessel routing 
system is advisable to increase the predictability of vessel movements, 
which may decrease the potential for collisions, oil spills, and other 
events that could threaten the marine environment.
    Based on comments received to date there is a general sense that a 
designated traffic route could improve traffic predictability thereby 
reducing marine casualties and oil spills; however, a few comments 
received did note that a designated traffic route (depending on 
location) could adversely impact subsistence hunting, marine mammals 
and other wildlife more so than widely dispersed vessel traffic. 
Therefore, the Coast Guard puts forth a potential two-way route as a 
starting point for analyzing where to put a vessel traffic route should 
one be deemed needed and beneficial to the region.
    The Coast Guard will analyze vessel traffic density, agency and 
stakeholder experience in vessel traffic management, navigation, ship 
handling, the effects of weather, impacts to subsistence hunting, 
impacts to marine mammals and other wildlife concerns into the decision 
making process of the study. We encourage you to participate in the 
study process by submitting comments in response to this notice.
    The expanded study area is described as an area bounded by a line 
connecting the following geographic positions:
     67[deg]30' N, 168[deg]58'37'' W;
     67[deg]30' N, 167[deg]30' W;
     54[deg]50' N, 164[deg]40' W;
     54[deg]03' N, 166[deg]25' W;
     63[deg]20' N, 173[deg]43' W; thence following the Russian 
Federation/United States maritime boundary line to the first 
geographical position.
    The proposed ship routing measures are described as follows:
    (1) A four nautical mile wide, two-way route extending from Unimak 
Pass in the Aleutian Islands that proceeds Northward through the Bering 
Sea and Bering Strait before terminating in the Chukchi Sea.
    (2) A four nautical mile wide, two-way route extending from a 
location North of the Western side of St. Lawrence Island and near the 
U.S./Russian Federation maritime border, then proceeding Northeast to a 
junction with the first two way route located to the West of King 
    (3) A total of four precautionary areas, each circular and 8 
nautical miles wide in diameter. Three of these precautionary areas 
will be located at the starting/ending points of the two-way routes, 
and the fourth will be located at the junction of the recommended two-
way routes.
    See the ADDRESSES section for where to obtain a copy of the chart 
showing the exact location of the proposed route.
    Timeline, Study Area, and Process of this PARS: The Seventeenth 
Coast Guard District will conduct this PARS. The study will continue 
upon publication of this notice and may take 24 months to complete.
    We will publish the results of the PARS in the Federal Register. It 
is possible that the study may validate the status quo (no routing 
measures) and conclude that no changes are necessary. It is also 
possible that the study may recommend one or more changes to enhance 
navigational safety and the efficiency of vessel traffic management. 
The recommendations may lead to future rulemakings or appropriate 
international agreements.

    Dated: November 14, 2014.
D. B. Abel,
Rear Admiral, U.S. Coast Guard, Commander, Seventeenth Coast Guard 
[FR Doc. 2014-28672 Filed 12-4-14; 8:45 am]