Coast Guard establishes ocean anchorage grounds near Delaware

Goes into effect Aug. 11; accommodates increase of larger vessels
July 15, 2022

Looking to improve navigation safety and accommodate future growth in the size of vessels entering the Delaware Bay, the U.S. Coast Guard has established two offshore deep-water anchorages near the coast of Delaware. The ruling goes into effect Thursday, Aug. 11.

According to a notice published July 12 in the Federal Register, a daily journal of the federal government informing citizens of changes to regulations, one anchorage ground – formally called Anchorage C-Cape Henlopen – will be located due east of Delaware Seashore State Park, about 9.4 miles east of the coastline. The second anchorage – Anchorage D-Indian River – will be about 6 miles east of the coastline stretching from Bethany to Fenwick. According to the notice, the water for both anchorages is between 40 and 85 feet deep.

The anchorages were first proposed in late 2019. It doesn’t say it in the July 12 notice, but in 2019, a reason given for the proposed anchorages was because traditional anchorage areas may not be available due to planned or potential offshore wind energy development.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Shannon Gilreath, Fifth Coast Guard District commander, submitted the regulatory change notice June 29.

“The regulation would ensure approximately 27 square miles of anchorage grounds are designated to provide necessary commercial deep draft anchorages and enhance the navigational safety of commercial vessels transiting to, from and within the Delaware Bay and River,” said Gilreath in the notice. “The impacts on routine navigation are expected to be minimal because the proposed anchorage areas are located outside of the established traffic separation zones and are consistent with current anchoring habits of vessels that call on the Delaware River. When not occupied, vessels would be able to maneuver in, around and through the anchorages.”

The Coast Guard expects minimal impact on small businesses with the creation of these anchorages, because they’re in an area of the Atlantic Ocean that is not a popular or productive fishing location, said Gilreath. Further, she said, the location is not in an area routinely transited by vessels heading to or returning from known fishing grounds.

Finally, said Gilreath, the anchorage locations are in an area not currently used by small vessels because of the water depth.

The Coast Guard had proposed the creation of a third anchorage in Delaware Bay, at the breakwater of Cape Henlopen, but ultimately decided not to after possible environmental objections were raised.

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