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sailordave 10-11-2008 08:31 AM

International Waters....
So I ran into a guy at the Boat Show yesterday (not impressed w/ the new boats...) that I knew from doing a race to Bermuda years ago. We got to talking about how this one boat got yelled at by the USNavy for being in their "playpen" off the coast of Virginia/North Carolina. They were out doing exercises and told this guy to get out of their "area". Now this wasn't just a few square miles, they took over thousands of sq. miles. He wasn't anywhere near any ships. (we heard the C-130 broadcasting on Ch16 to the boat)
What I'm wondering is how can the Navy (in their arrogance) just order a vessel out of a particular area of the sea that is INTERNATIONAL WATERS?
Is this common? Anybody have an experience w/ this happening to them?

Just curious.

AjariBonten 10-11-2008 08:54 AM

Just curious, was this at the end of July?

camaraderie 10-11-2008 09:16 AM

The USA asserts a contiguous zone of 24 miles from the coast (along with a number of other countries) which it can control. Was the marked off area within this zone. The Navy REGULARLY holds live fire and tactical exercises off the coast of VA and NC and requires ships and boats to detour arround any announced exercise area. My understanding is that these are within the 24 mile zone as they can be heard directing other ships to divert on land based VHF.

dsmylie 10-11-2008 10:06 AM

OP Areas
They are US OP Areas and yes they can. They are located up and down both coast of US and the Gulf of Mexico and some areas of the Caribbean. Live fire schedules are posted in Notice to mariners and are also broadcast. It is prudent for all mariners to ascertain the status of the areas before transiting them.:)

Boasun 10-11-2008 10:33 AM

The U.S. Navy and other countries Navys have operating areas for them to do their exercises in. They do notify the boating & commerical communities via the NTMs and Broadcasts on 22A and 2182 of when those exercises are taking place. But many people do not read the NTMs or know of those broadcasts and end up in the exercise areas. Thus being ignorant end up in the middle of an exercise. Note: Some exercises are live firing of Naval Guns and Missiles... Do you want to be in the Area??

sailordave 10-11-2008 10:48 AM

This was early June 2002 and it was more than 24 miles off the coast. SUPPOSEDLY (I never personally saw them) there was a notice out that the Navy was holding exercises.
I just wonder how they can ORDER you out of International Waters. :confused: I can see wanting you to stay away from their ships, but in this case I remember hearing one of the crew saying they didn't even see any ships/planes around other than the one telling them to get out.
Of course when have legal issues kept the Gov't from doing what it wants?:rolleyes:

Faster 10-11-2008 12:01 PM

In Georgia Strait, which is inside Vancouver Island so in no way outside any territorial waters there is an area known as Whiskey Golf that is a military activity area. It is near the Canadian Forces base at Comox.

This area, smack in the middle of the strait and on the Rhumbline of many cruisers' tracks, is often used by primarily Canadian and US forces, but also others as well. Activity warnings are given daily on the weather VHF channels and there is usually 2-3 days/week that transit is forbidden.

It's a bit galling but on the other hand most of the activity involves subs, torpedoes and sub trackers and they are often firing live and unarmed torpedoes. We have often sailed nearby on active days and seen no ships - and have seen boats that apparently didn't listen to the radio transit the zone at that time.. wonder how they'd feel if even an unarmed torpedo "found" them accidently...

On one occasion we were gybing down the eastern edge, fully aware of our position when we were chased down by an unmarked patrol boat, closely examined from a boat length astern by an officer with binoculars that had 6" lenses (must have been gauging how recently I'd shaved) before telling us not to sail above a certain heading for the next 10 miles (which we already knew..) This vessel had no Canadian markings/flags for sure, and none others we could see. btw - this was pre 9/11 so the terrorism factor wasn't prominent yet.

So while it's annoying to be kept out of certain waters, given what they might be up to "down there" it may be prudent to keep your distance..

Karletto 10-11-2008 03:14 PM


Originally Posted by sailordave (Post 382786)
I just wonder how they can ORDER you out of International Waters. :confused:

if you are in international waters, it doesn't mean there's no law. you are under the law of the flag you are sailing on/ boats flag. you have USA flag so you are under USA law which probably says you have to listen and do what your navy orders you to do. same with the police also but both can't order something to for example Japanese flag in international waters.

in other words
if you steal something on USA flag in international waters, you will be prosecuted under USA law.

hellosailor 10-11-2008 04:29 PM

"I just wonder how they can ORDER you out of International Waters."
If you are a US citizen, you are subject to the US Government, no matter where you are. Including on the high seas. Now, if he was a Brit, he could just thumb his nose at them and say "1812, remember?!" but that's OK...when men on big gray ships try to tell you that you are someplace where you may become collateral damage, if you want to stay there, that's your freedom too.

Someone drops a fuel tank, or fires live munitions, or a nuclear sub does an emergency surface drill under your boat...and you're really going to appreciate the reason why you've been ORDERED out of the area.

The prudent mariner generally avoids sailing in live-fire zones.

sailaway21 10-11-2008 04:57 PM

Classifying their actions as arrogance is an interesting take on the event. It does rather overlook the fact that they might have been expressing concern for the sailor's ultimate safety. The Navy has just as much right to utilize international waters as the next person. If one feels that their rights of passage are being interfered with by such exercises they can, of course, feel free to ignore naval warnings in international waters. Personally, as a master of merchant ships, my policy was to avoid all naval activity at all times. Naval flotillas are prone to erratic actions and do some dangerous things while burning up the taxpayers money. Some of those things happen at high rates of speed, often in excess of thirty knots, so the ship you didn't see could well be running you under in less than a half hour.

Arguing with the Navy on the high seas is the equivalent to arguing with a state trooper alongside the road at two in the morning. We all know how it's supposed to turn out, but the question is, do we really want to press our luck and find out?

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