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Sound Signal Devices

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. For example, sound signals are required when meeting head-on, crossing, or overtaking.

  • These requirements apply to vessels operating on New York state waters.
    • Every power-driven vessel must carry on board a mechanical sound-producing device that can make a sound signal that is audible for at least one-half mile and lasts two seconds or more.
    • On vessels less than 39 feet in length, which includes PWCs, a mouth whistle may be used if it can make a sound signal that is audible for at least one-half mile and lasts two seconds or more.
    • Vessels more than 39 feet in length must carry a bell also.
  • These requirements apply to vessels operating on federally controlled waters.
    • Vessels less than 65.6 feet (20 meters) in length, which includes PWCs, are required to carry on board a whistle or horn or some other means to make an efficient sound signal audible for at least one-half mile.
    • Vessels that are 65.6 feet (20 meters) or more in length are required to carry on board a whistle or horn, and a bell that are audible for at least one mile.
  • Sirens may be used only by law enforcement or emergency vessels.