Publication Title

Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce


COLREGS, narrow channel rule, U.S. Inland Navigation Rules

Document Type



This Article locates the narrow channel rule in the larger context of risk management in confined waters. It begins by examining the risks posed by vessel navigation in narrow channels and fairways in the United States and the risk management measures employed to eliminate or reduce those risks, including the narrow channel rule in the applicable rules of the road. The Article then identifies problems with the existing rule and examines several alternatives to address the problems. The Article concludes that mariners deserve clearer guidance on how to identify the waters where Rule 9 applies than they have so far been given. To provide the needed guidance, the Coast Guard should initiate rulemaking to formally designate waterways in the United States where Rule 9 applies. An easier, but less effective, alternative would be for the Coast Guard to publish a list of prior determinations on the status of U.S. waterways as narrow channels or fairways, together with a guidance document setting out specific criteria to apply in making determinations for waters not yet the subject of a determination.

Included in

Admiralty Commons



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