USCG Statement

In a conversation with a USCG CPO, I was told that the crews of vessels at anchorage in US inland waterways are prohibited from performing any work on the vessel (chipping, painting, washing, etc.)

Have any of you seasoned mariners ever heard of such a rule, reg, or law?

Never. Check the source.

I wouldn’t let paint chips or other debris fall in the water but I’ve never heard that you can’t do any work.


I would like to think the USCG have much more on their plate than looking for some rust and a few paint chips in the water.

Do you think this is worthy of the Coast Guard’s time:


Chief Petty Officer in the USCG is the source.

EPA Vessel General Permit (VGP) which USCG enforces is the source of that. You can do the work, but you must document proper disposal of the scale and have countermeasures in place to prevent it from entering the water and surrounding environment.

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I vaguely remember something during the late 1990’s about not washing the exterior of the vessel in Mobil Bay or the I.C.W around there. Maybe in the Florida Panhandle too? What region were you in when the chief petty officer told you this?

St. Louis

It was over 20 years ago for me but what I recall from Mobile & the panhandle it was no washing down period, it didn’t matter if you were at anchorage or underway. I guess rich people in expensive waterfront houses didn’t like the idea of dirty boat scum getting into their water. Once west bound heading toward the Missigo into the Mississippi Sound it was business as usual though. I don’t remember anything about chipping & grinding restrictions but the boats I worked on never accumulated any rust due to the daily (illegally sometimes) rinse downs with the garden hose. I don’t recall seeing any rusty inland pushboats.


You have to check local area regs that can be stacked on top of federal ones. As far as I know, you can do a lot of work as long as mitigation is in place- you capture paint chips. for example. But as far as a washdown, even with fresh water generally a no-no and def. no Ospho or other treatments that you need to rinse.

As an engineer if I am doing work outside on anything that has fluids which can spill, I have to ensure I clean up as well as possible so that even rain won’t put contaminant in the water, One example would be changing out hydraulic hoses. One has to minimize spills and clean up what you do spill, if any

Local harbor regs. In Puget Sound the VTS announces that during darkness anchored vessels are to keep unnecessary noise, and lights to a minimum to avoid conflicts with local residents

One thing I have noticed over the years when the shipyards sandblast, there is a tent over the vessel. Not a practice used earlier in my career. Sand Pebble, I used to run the ditch as a youngster, we had these nasty black gnat looking things that covered the vessel at night. Almost like a scene out of Hitchcock’s “The Birds”, Captain demanded wash down constantly/daily. I think they called them “Sticky Bugs”.

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Yep, we also had love bugs which were bugs stuck together at the tails. Every morning the vessel needed to be rinsed down before the sun cooked the critters to the bulkheads. I worked on pushboats for 1.5 years on the lower Mississippi & from Panama City to Brownsville & never had to chip outside equipment. Fresh water & daily rinsing did magic.

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My apologies for the bad link above. The following link should give you direct access to the folder where you will find 2 videos of 2 vessels, If anyone would care to comment on the appropriateness of the activities in the context of MARPOL Annex V, and even the Vessel General Permit, I am interested in your thoughts.

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I seen on MarineTraffic that the Zheng Heng is a bulk carrier. From the video it appears that the crews were disposing of spilled cargo over the side. Disposing of cargo in such a way while in port is illegal in the US. I don’t see that as being the same a deckhand on an inland pushboat, a sports fisherman on his bass boat or a whitewater rafter rinsing their means of flotation down after an honest days work. Washing down isn’t the same as throwing cargo over if you don’t have cargo on deck.

I don’t find the bulk carrier crews actions acceptable & not condoning it but it is worth mentioning the elevators where bulk carriers & barges load & offload their cargo dump a bunch of cargo in the waterways every day. When parking my truck near a grain elevator when I used to do that type of work sucked. Sometime I would have a 1/4" thick layer after 12 hours. I didn’t even like to go outside in Myrylegrove La. because of all the coke/coal dust in the air. After seeing all that pollution I can understand how those foriegn mariners thought it might be acceptable.

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The cargo involved in both incidents is phosphate which is one of the primary contributors to the perpetual Dead Zone in the GOM.

The dead zone in the GOM is attributed to a lot of other pollutants than phosphates, although it is a major problem. I would put that in a category of “All the above and including north of Baton Rouge”. Chesapeake Bay is a victim as well from runoffs from chicken factories and fertilizers. Phosphate is killing our marine life. as are other select chemicals and oils.

Both in violation of federal and state laws, and the conditions and terms of discharge permits. Lots of violations go unaddressed for whatever reason.

Buckets are overfilled spilling cargo during the transfer, and the lips of the buckets don’t seal allowing cargo to fall into the water during transfer. This is a violation of at least federal permits, regs and laws.

Overfilled, spilling buckets are not lowered as low as possible, not even the minimum of at least 2 feet below the coaming, before being opened. This causes your air discharges onto other people’s property in violation of permit conditions and terms, regs and laws.

Spilled cargo accumulates on the deck of the vessels being loaded/unloaded. Instead of following Best Management Practices as required by at least the VGP and Annex V (shoveling, sweeping, vacuuming and otherwise recovering all spilled cargo and returning it to the hold or properly contained for proper disposal), they sweep/shovel it over the sides. The same goes for the barges being unloaded/loaded.

Yes, there’s a lot of dumping of cargo and/or otherwise garbage at the elevators.

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A shitload sir. I think if you take bottom survey at any coal ,fertilizer, grain ,cement or any other of those type of loading areas it won’t be a surprise to anyone what lies on the bottom. Washing a few bugs off a tug or chipping is incredibly miniscule to the bigger picture.

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