Vandals Cause Navigational Hazard

Published on April 27th, 2017

This photo shows a buoy pierced with bullet holes, Monday, April 24, 2017, off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. The buoy was found by the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis and the penalty for damaging or tampering with Federal Aids to Navigation is up to 20 years of imprisonment and as much as $2,500 fine per day for each violation. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Patrick Morkis)

Clay Head buoy number 7 pierced with bullet holes April 24, 2017, off the coast of Block Island, Rhode Island. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Patrick Morkis)

The crew of Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis discovered a buoy sunk in the water with bullet holes this week near Block Island, Rhode Island.

The crew was conducting regular aids-to-navigation maintenance when they approached Clay Head buoy number 7 and found it submerged. The crew raised the 12,000-pound buoy and found 20 bullet holes in it.

Due to the extensive damage, this buoy was taken out of service for repairs. This aid to navigation marks a large rock three feet below the water’s surface. Ferries transit this route frequently and provide critical supplies to Block Island. Buoy number 7 is supposed to be a key navigational tool for mariners and turned into a navigational hazard.

This is the second aid discovered with bullet holes within a week.

“While it may be fun to use a buoy for target practice, it is a federal crime,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Timothy Chase, the U.S. Coast Guard officer in charge of aids-to-navigation in the vicinity of Block Island. “Buoy number 7 became a navigational hazard that could have easily been struck by a vessel and seriously injured or killed mariners.”

Damaging or tampering with federal aids-to-navigation is a crime and the maximum penalties upon conviction are up to 20 years of imprisonment and as much as $2,500 fine per day for each violation.

Coast Guard Cutter Ida Lewis is a 175-foot buoy tender homeported in Newport, Rhode Island. The crew services more than 200 buoys annually in southeastern New England.

The Coast Guard encourages all boaters to contact them when a crime is witnessed.

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