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International/inland  Distress  Signals
prolonged, one short, one prolonged, and one short blast, in that order. The Inland Rules for overtaking vessels apply only to power-driven vessels;  the  International  Rules  apply  to  all vessels. A vessel that reaches agreement with another vessel in  a  meeting,  crossing,  or  overtaking  situation  by  using the   radiotelephone, as   prescribed   by   the Bridge-to-Bridge  Radiotelephone  Act  (85  Stat.  165;  33 U.S.C.  1207),  is  not  obligated  to  sound  the  whistle signals prescribed by this rule, but may do so. If agreement is not reached, then whistle signals must be exchanged  in  a  timely  manner  and  will  prevail. RESTRICTED VISIBILITY Conduct  of  Vessels  in  Restricted  Visibility,  Rule 20C, of both Inland and International Rules states that the lights prescribed by the rules are to be exhibited in restricted  visibility.  Rule  35  of  both  Inland  and International Rules states that the required sound signals are to be sounded in or near an area of restricted visibility. Inland and International Rule 19 applies to vessels not in sight of one another when navigating in or near an area of restricted visibility. Fog  Signals Before radar, the regulations depended almost solely on the fog signal; vessels in fog sounded fog signals  and  when  other  vessels  heard  them,  they stopped. The increasing use of radar today has resulted in  a  supplementation  to  the  existing  regulations. In  1960,  a  radar  annex  was  appended  to  the International Rules; it was ultimately incorporated in 1972. In 1980, the word fog was discarded and replaced by  the  term  restricted visibility.  The  International  Rules today make it clear that vessels must maintain a proper lookout. The rules make it obvious that radar is NOT a substitute for a proper lookout. The courts have ruled that dependable radar equipment must be turned on and intelligent use made of it. Rule 19E requires a vessel hearing a fog signal of another  vessel  to  reduce  its  speed,  to  bare  steerageway, and  to  proceed  with  caution. No  defined  distance  has  been  established  regarding visibility for sounding fog signals. Three miles has been recommended for all vessels over 50 meters long. The rules prescribe three types of devices: a whistle (for vessels underway), and a bell and a gong (for vessels anchored or aground). A whistle requires either a prolonged blast of 4-6 seconds or one short blast. A bell requires a 5-second rapid ringing. And a gong requires a 5-second rapid sounding. International Rules require a  2-minute  interval  between  warning  signals. The fog signals for inland and international waters (COLREGs)  are  very  similar  but  there  are  two exceptions. First, the Inland Rules do not provide for a vessel constrained by draft; and second, they do not require  small  vessels  in  specifically  designated anchorages  to  sound  fog  signals. Small boats, as well as larger vessels, are required to signal. A boat coxswain must have a foghorn in the boat at all times. Motorboats must be outfitted with an efficient whistle, horn, or other sound-producing device. It should be noted that because a boat is exempt from some specific requirement of the rules, it is not excused  from  complying  with  the  rules  in  all  other respects. Sound  Signals The sound signals in restricted visibility for the International and Inland Rules are very similar. In this part of the text, only the Inland Rules will be presented. Any differences between the International and Inland Rules will be noted. In or near an area of restricted visibility, whether by day or night, the signals prescribed in this rule will be used  as  follows: A power-driven vessel making way through the water must sound at intervals of not more than 2 minutes one  prolonged  blast. A power-driven vessel underway, but stopped and making no way through the water, will sound at intervals of not more than 2 minutes two prolonged blasts in succession with an interval of about 2 seconds between them. A vessel not under command; a vessel restricted in ability to maneuver, whether underway or at anchor; a sailing  vessel;  a  vessel  engaged  in  fishing,  whether underway or at anchor; and a vessel engaged in towing or pushing another vessel will sound at intervals of not more than 2 minutes, three blasts in succession; namely, one  prolonged  followed  by  two  short  blasts. 5-23

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