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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. The navigation rules for meeting head-on, crossing and overtaking situations are examples of when sound signals are required.

These requirements apply to vessels operating on Tennessee state waters.

  • Vessels less than 39.4 feet (12 meters) in length, which includes PWC, are not required to carry a whistle or bell but must have some means to make an efficient sound signal.
  • Vessels that are 39.4 feet (12 meters) or more in length are required to carry on board a whistle and a bell.

These 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.