Deploying a buoy?

Oceanographic research buoys, whether installed in the harbor, bay or offshore, are considered Private Aids To Navigation (PATON) and as such are regulated by U.S. Coast Guard under Title 33 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 66 (33CFR66).  Click here for detailed USCG information.

Securing proper authorization for your buoy installations protects them by getting their characteristics and positions officially published in/on:

  • Local and National Notice to Mariners
  • Navigation Charts
  • Light Lists

Application for authorization to install research buoys should be made at least two weeks prior to deployment.  For buoys that will be installed in California bays, harbors and offshore waters out to 200 miles, application should be made to:

Mr. Brian Aldrich (dpw)
Scientific Community Liaison
US Coast Guard District 11
Bldg. 50-2, CG Island
Alameda, CA 94501-5100
Tel: (510) 437-2983
Email: Brian.R.Aldrich@uscg.mil


Be prepared to provide full details regarding characteristics of your buoy(s), position(s) and intended time on station.  Characteristics include hull shape, top-side structures, color, light characteristics, identifying marks and whether or not a radar reflector is installed.  In general, research buoys should conform to national and international standards for special purpose buoys, namely: yellow hull and structure and a yellow light.

Sub-surface moorings that may pose a hazard to surface navigation should be permitted as well.  Bottom moorings, such as Ocean Bottom Seismometers, that do not pose a hazard to surface navigation need not be permitted.  Bottom moorings that may be at risk from sub-surface operations (such as fishing/trawling operations) may be reported to the Coast Guard for publication.  Questions in this regard should be discussed with Mr. Aldrich.

If your buoys are to be deployed in the waters of another state, Mr. Aldrich can provide current POC's in the appropriate US Coast Guard District.

Buoys that will be installed in the national waters of foreign countries will be addressed during the diplomatic clearance process through SIO's Ship Scheduling Office.

Buoys in international waters. (place holder)

Last updated: 1/22/10