Message to the Congress Transmitting Amendments to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972

January 27, 1983

To the Congress of the United States:

Consistent with the International Navigational Rules Act of 1977 (Public Law 95 - 75; 33 U.S.C. 1602), I transmit herewith Amendments to the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972, adopted at London November, 1981. The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, 1972 (72 COLREGS), done at London October 29, 1972, were signed by over 50 contracting parties to the International Maritime Organization (IMO). The 72 COLREGS entered into force worldwide on July 15, 1977, and replaced the 1960 Collision Regulations. During the past five years, the 72 COLREGS have served well to avert collisions at sea. Nevertheless, experience indicated that some clarifications were desirable. Consequently, rather than formulate new regulations, the Sub-Committee on Safety of Navigation of IMO's Maritime Safety Committee proposed a group of 55 amendments to clarify the existing regulations. While the amendments do have substance there are no major changes to the regulations. Many of the amendments relax lighting requirements, particularly for smaller vessels. Other amendments simply clarify wording.

The same year that the 72 COLREGS entered into force, the Secretary of Transportation formed the Rules of the Road Advisory Committee (RORAC).

The primary purpose of this committee was to formulate unified rules for our inland waters. Rule 1(b) of 72 COLREGS states:

``Nothing in these Rules shall interfere with the operation of special rules made by an appropriate authority for roadsteads, harbors, rivers, lakes or inland waterways connected with the high seas and navigable by seagoing vessels. Such Special Rules shall conform as closely as possible to these Rules.''

With this goal in mind, RORAC recommended that the rules be enacted into law by the Inland Navigational Rules Act of 1980 (Public Law 96 - 591). Four very important accomplishments of this Act were:

A. Our inland rules were modernized;

B. they were unified;

C. they were brought into conformity with 72 COLREGS; and

D. having anticipated the 55 amend ments to 72 COLREGS, many of these amendments were written into our own rules.

Consequently, when the 72 COLREGS amendments become effective, our own rules will conform more closely to international regulations than they do at present. It is apparent from examining our rules closely, that RORAC and the Congress, in supporting the Inland Navigational Rules Act of 1980, fully supported the COLREGS amendments being submitted. It is of note that no country has deposited an objection with IMO to any of the 55 amendments, and none are anticipated.

In the absence of a duly enacted law to the contrary, I will proclaim that the amendments will enter into force for the United States on June 1, 1983.

Ronald Reagan

The White House,

January 27, 1983.