2010-07-29 / Letters to the Editor

Follow LNG vessels online

I would like to respond to Mr. Lynn’s article from two weeks ago, which I found to be somewhat misleading. From the very beginning, he claims – about the Newport-Bermuda boat line-up – that if a “LNG tanker had come up the Bay, all of the boats would have had to leave.”

This statement simply isn’t true.

As I have repeatedly mentioned – apparently unsuccessfully – the “security zone” is in no way an order to cease and desist all boating operations within Narragansett Bay. It is a moving blanket, 3 miles long and 2,000 yards wide, simply asking boaters to stand by for 12 to 15 minutes.

Lynn goes on to mention that the tankers are three football fields long. That’s true. He states they are also one football field high and wide. This is also true, if we combine height and beam, which – on their own – are only half of one football field. Not more than three weeks ago, a vessel of this size (USNS SEAY) entered and departed our Bay without conflict.

Lynn also asserts that these ships are surrounded by a three-mile security zone, which would encompass land in our towns. The security zone is not three miles in diameter, but in linear length. The sides of the zone are 1,000 yards. That is the maximum size; the area the U.S.C.G. enforces may be smaller. Some vessels may even be allowed to operate inside of it.

To the best of my knowledge, this is a marine security zone that will have no effect on waterfront families playing in their yards on Sunday afternoons. LPG vessels have been operating under the same regulations here for 30 years, without conflict. The Coast Guard says it will likely enforce the zone only when the ships are loaded – or, half of the trips on our waters. Additionally, the frightful notion that the U.S.C.G. surrounds these ships with “gunboats” is the same as saying our police patrol our streets with “gun-laden vehicles.”

The belief that these ships will arrive completely unannounced is utterly ridiculous. As you read this, navigate your personal computer to www.safesea. com. You’ll see a link for “Boating Resources,” which will drop down to display “Live RI Shipping Traffic.”

No, ladies and gentlemen, this is not the eighth wonder of the world. It’s called “automated information system,” and all vessels of a certain size – LNG tankers most definitely among them – are required to have it. You can follow a vessel anywhere in the world (theoretically).

For kicks, scroll the map down to New York. The point is, anyone can find this information. Further, vessels are required to give the U.S.C.G. a 96-hour notice of their arrival.

Is there anyone on this committee with any maritime or LNG industry experience?
Shawn Ouellette

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