In periods of reduced visibility or whenever a vessel operator needs to signal his or her intentions or position, a sound-producing device is essential. The navigation rules for meeting head-on, crossing, and overtaking situations are examples of when sound signals are required. All vessels on state and federally controlled waters must have a sound-producing device to communicate.
The following requirements apply to vessels operating on Louisiana state waters.
- Vessels 16 feet or longer, but less than 26 feet in length, are required to carry a whistle or some other mechanical means (horn) to make a sound.
- Vessels that are 26 feet or more in length are required to carry a whistle or some other mechanical means (horn) to make a sound, and an efficient bell.
The following requirements apply to vessels operating on federally controlled waters.
- Vessels less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) in length, which includes PWC, must have some way of making an efficient sound signal. Examples are a handheld air horn, an athletic whistle, an installed horn, etc. A human voice is not acceptable.
- Vessels that are 39.4 feet (12 meters) or more in length must have a sound-producing device that can produce an efficient sound signal. The sound signal should be audible for one-half mile and should last for 4 to 6 seconds.