The air space above, the state park nearby and the road leading to President Joe Biden’s North Shores home were all closed at some point when he visited in June. Now, when he’s in town, the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and the ocean immediately in front of North Shores beach may also be closed occasionally.
The U.S. Coast Guard has recently established two new security zones in areas near Biden’s beach house. A notice advising the public of the zones was published Aug. 26 in the Federal Register, a daily journal of the federal government that, among other things, informs citizens of changes to regulations. U.S. Coast Guard Capt. Jonathan Theel, Captain of the Port, Delaware Bay, wrote the regulation notice Aug. 20. According to the public notice, the zones went into effect Aug. 26.
“The Captain of the Port Delaware Bay has determined that recurring presence of persons under the protection of [United States Secret Service], which started in January of 2021, presents a potential target for terrorist acts, sabotage, or other subversive acts, accidents, or other causes of a similar nature. This security zone is necessary to protect these persons, the public, and other surrounding waterways,” says the notice.
Coming from Delaware Bay, the canal security zone begins approximately two-thirds of the way through the canal and lasts for about half a mile, ending just south of the entrance to the North Shores Marina. The zone for the ocean is a one-mile section of the North Shores beach that stretches 500 yards from the shoreline.
According to the notice, no vessel or person is permitted to enter either security zone without first obtaining permission from the Captain of the Port Delaware Bay or a designated representative.
“However,” said Theel, in his notice, “we anticipate that vessels requesting to transit these zones will typically be authorized to transit without pause or delay by on-scene enforcement vessels.”
No stopping or anchoring will be allowed within the security zones, said the notice. At times, for limited duration, it is anticipated that vessels may be prohibited from entering the zone due to movement of people protected by the Secret Service.
The Coast Guard expects limited impact because of the rule.
An examination of vessel traffic on the canal done before the rule was made shows 20 vessels a day, January through March; 75 vessels a day in April; more than 200 vessels a day, May through September; and 50 vessels a day, October through December.
The notice recognizes there are roughly 30 private docks or slips along the canal and within the North Shores Marina that fall entirely within the canal zone. Boaters going to one of these docks or slips will be expected to explain themselves to the posted security contingent. The notice also recognizes a closure to the canal could mean boaters are stranded through the duration of the closure because they won’t want to take the alternative route – out the Indian River Inlet, into the Atlantic Ocean and then into Delaware Bay.
As for the ocean area, the Coast Guard doesn’t think there will be many recreational boaters or commercial vessels routinely operating there, because it’s too close to shore and the surf is too rough.
When the security zones are enforced, the Coast Guard will issue a broadcast notice to mariners and a special marine information bulletin via VHF-FM channel 16.
The notice says for more information on the new rule, contact Petty Officer Edmund Ofalt, Waterways Management Division of Coast Guard Sector Delaware Bay at 215-271-4889 or Edmund.J.Ofalt@usccg.mil.