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Coast Guard Removing Milton Harbor Buoys Monday

Posted on June 6, 2022

The US Coast Guard is scheduled to remove nine buoys – federally maintained “ATONs” or aids to navigation – from Milton Harbor on Monday. The USCG warned of the removal in a public notice back in January. The action is a result of extreme shoaling – in plain English lower water depths – due to silting in the harbor. Milton Harbor has not been dredged on over ten years.

In response, the City of Rye has been forced to hire a private firm, McCauley Mooring and Diving Services of Larchmont, to install private ATONs. The private aids, expected to be installed on Monday as the USCG removes its navigation, will remain until the City completes a dredging project of both Milton Harbor and the boat basin, a multi-million dollar undertaking.

The City has sought the requisite permits to complete a dredge of the Milton channel 75 feet wide and five feet deep. It has received New York and Connecticut permits and is in the public comment period for the US Army Corps of Engineers. The USACE is the final permit required. The City is working with a consultant on a calendar and bid plan for the dredge and disposal and has stated it hopes the project will be completed over this coming winter.

The City is expecting the private buoys to be  a temporary fix until dredging is completed. “We have been steadfast from the beginning that our hope/expectation is that once [the dredging is] completed the USCG will return with markers,” said Rye City Manager Greg Usry. “Our State and Federal delegation have been equally supportive in this. Thus far the USCG has been receptive and we believe they will work with us once the dredge is complete and we provide a survey of adequate depth. They are aware of the details of our dredge plan.”

Five vs. Six + Feet Requires USCG Waiver

The City’s plan to dredge to five feet will still depend on the good graces of the USCG, as any depth less than six feet requires an internal waiver from USCG command.

“Once it is dredged, we’ll be able to come back and check the water and if we’re able to reestablish at that point, then we will,” said Lieutenant Brandon Newman, the public affairs officer for the First Coast Guard District. “As soon as we’re able to get back in there, with our boats, within the parameters that our boats are able to maintain the buoys, then we will.”

“Shoaling in the channel has been in some spots a foot and a half,” continued Newman. “For the boat that we use to service it, the actual draft is two feet four inches and the navigational draft is six feet. So, six feet – that’s the most shallow water that we ideally would go into and then anything between that and that (6 feet) and the two feet four inches requires the waiver.”

Buoy 3 Remains

The original USCG notice provided for the removal of ten buoys. Only nine will be removed on Monday. Buoy 3, further out in Milton harbor just off Hen Island, keeps mariners away from a nearby underground rock formation that is only five feet from the surface. The USCG determined the water there – 13-14 feet according to nautical maps – was sufficiently deep for Buoy 3 to remain.


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