Well the NIMBY crowd has come out in full force and truly used the wonderful internet propaganda machine to stir up the population with armageddon scenarios, mis truths, and a few out right lies. The comment period has been extended and I urge you the readers, especially if you are professional mariners, to comment in support of the proposed anchorages. Below is my comment and I can only hope it serves as inspiration to some of you!
As a mariner operating in the tug and barge industry on the Hudson River, as well as the Ports of New York and New Jersey, I am writing the USCG to strongly support the creation of the proposed federally designated anchorages. The unofficial use of these area’s as anchorages in times of need has been part of the accepted best practices by mariner’s operating on the Hudson for decades.
The reasons for the use of these anchorages are as many as the vessels that operate. From reduced visibility due to fog, snow, other inclement weather, delays in a berth at Albany, ice, and waiting for daylight transits above kingston during the winter. They are a crucial tool in the toolbox of any competent Master or Mate transiting the Hudson.
Even as I type this, many vessels are making use of the anchorages off of Yonkers and Newburgh in the preparation for the possible impact of Tropical Storm Hermine. Perhaps we should send this vessels to sea to ride out the storm? Or moor them in vulnerable coastal areas?
There has been a massively misleading campaign about these anchorages being used as long term storage for loaded oil barges, with comments implying that companies would buy low, store, and then sell high. This can’t be farther from the truth and is pure propaganda driven by the Not In My Back Yard crowd. None of the minority of vessels that have been moving crude on the river are large enough to make that application economically feasible and more over are seldom anchored upriver on the hudson loaded. It has also been implied that vessels will be anchored farther upriver to avoid docking and moorage fees in New York harbor. Again this is, as the USCG undoubtedly knows, completely false. It costs a company nothing to anchor in the designated anchorages in Bayridge, Gravesend, The North River below the GW, and Perth Amboy. What would cost the companies, not only in fuel but lost time, is steaming a vessel several hours upriver to anchor far away from its intended berth.
Recreational boaters have claimed that having vessels being allowed to anchor in these locations, locations they have been anchoring in for decades, will someone limit their access to the river and create a hazard to navigation. This can not be further from the truth as anchored commercial vessels are manned by professional mariners who’s job it is to comply to the COLREGS and safe navigational practices. This includes proper lighting at night, day shapes, standing a proper lookout, and maintaining a proper radio watch. The onus is on the recreational boaters to due the same, and become a steward of their own safety.
In closing I can only hope that the USCG continues to act in the interest of the safe navigational practices passed down to and put into use by mariner’s such as myself. It should never be in the back of a watch standers mind, that if they anchor due to inclement conditions or for other safety reasons, that they may face fine or censure for doing so. If such a situation is allowed to develop it will only lead to a decrease in safety, and an increase in the close calls that do lead to accidents.