Rules of the Road
As a Quartermaster, you are required to know how to operate your
ship's sound signaling equipment. You must also be able to interpret
whistle and bell signals as they apply to the rules of the road. The rules
of the road are published by the Coast Guard in a booklet entitled
Navigation Rules (COMDINST Ml6672.2B).
International Rules are specific rules for all vessels on the high seas and
in connecting waters navigable by seagoing vessels. The Inland Rules
apply to all vessels upon the inland waters of the United States and to
vessels of the United States on the Canadian waters of the Great Lakes
to the extent that there is no conflict with Canadian law.
The International Rules were formalized at the convention on the
International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972. These
rules are commonly called 72 COLREGS. The Inland Rules discussed
in this chapter replace the old Inland Rules, Western River Rules, Great
Lakes Rules, their respective pilot rules, and parts of the Motorboat Act
of 1940. Many of the old navigation rules were originally enacted in the
last century. Occasionally, provisions were added to cope with the
increasing complexities of water transportation. Eventually, the
navigation rules for the United States inland waterways became such a
confusing patchwork of requirements that in the 1960s several
unsuccessful attempts were made to revise and simplify them.
Following the signing of the 72 COLREGS, a new effort was made to
unify and update the various Inland Rules. This effort was also aimed at
making the Inland Rules as similar as possible to the 72 COLREGS.
The Inland Navigation Rules of 1980, now in effect, are the result. The
International/Inland Rules contain 38 rules that comprise the main body
of the Rules and five annexes which are the regulations. The
International/Inland Rules are broken down in parts as follows:
B-Steering and Sailing Rules
C-Lights and Shapes
D-Sound and Light Signals