On 19 November, 1989, the 1987 amendments to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (72 COLREGS) entered into force for the United States. Each of the nine amendments is discussed briefly.
Rule 1(e) -- vessel of special construction. The Phrase "without interfering with the special function of the vessel" is deleted which simplifies the government's determination that a vessel complies as closely as possible with the rules.
Rule 3(h) -- vessel constrained by her draught. A new consideration, width of navigable water, is added when determining if a vessel is constrained by her draft.
Rule 8 -- not to impede. New rule 8(f) is added to action to avoid collision which defines the conduct required by the terminology "not to impede" in passing situations.
Rule 10(a) -- traffic separation schemes. The phrase "and does not relieve any vessel of her obligation under any other rule" is added which makes it clear that 72 COLREGS apply in addition to the special rules for vessels in traffic separation schemes.
Rule 10(c) -- crossing traffic lanes. The phrase "on a heading" is added which clarifies the Rule by inserting the words "on a heading" which are implied in the present language.
Annex I, section 2(d) -- uppermost light. The height requirement for masthead lights is applied to the optional all-round light of Rule 23(c) (I) for power-driven vessels of less than 12 meters in length.
Annex I, section 2(I) (ii) -- vertical spacing of lights. The phrase "above the hull" is replaced by "above the gunwale" which better defines the location from which the masthead light is measured when two or three lights are carried in a vertical line on a vessel less than 20 meters in length.
Annex I, sections 10(a) and 10(b) -- sailing vessel lights. The word "underway" is added after the words "sailing vessels" to clarify the applicability of the Annex.
Annex IV, section 1(o) -- distress signals. New paragraph (o) is added which adds "approved signals transmitted by radio communications systems" to the list of approved distress signals.
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