Types of Sound Signaling Equipment

Boats used for recreational purposes are required to carry sound-producing devices. Most boating accidents occur as a result of collisions with other vessels. Boaters can avoid collisions by using sound-signaling equipment to communicate their intentions to other watercraft.

A sound signal is required under certain circumstances under the US Coast Guard Navigation Rules, including when a meeting or crossing occurs or when an overtaking occurs.

Below is a list of the sound-producing devices required for each type of vessel:

If the vessel is under 12 meters (39.4 feet), an effective sound-producing device, such as an air horn or whistle, should be installed, and a light signal should also be provided.

image of whistle and air horn

A bell is required for vessels greater than 12 meters (39.4 feet) in length, in addition to an air horn or whistle.

image showing bell, whistle, and air horn

NOTE: Unless there is an immediate or potential danger to the people on board, sound-producing devices are not allowed on the water.

chart showing how to pass

charts showing how to pass from the starboard and port

chart showing give-way and stand-on vessel



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