The Coast Guard's Programs of Aids to Navigation Along Louisiana's Coast Could Be More Effective

CED-80-58: Published: Apr 11, 1980. Publicly Released: May 12, 1980.

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The Louisiana congressional delegation requested that GAO evaluate the effectiveness of the Coast Guard's system of navigational aids along the Louisiana coastline.

Improvements are needed in the program's management. The Coast Guard does not perform detailed evaluations of proposed changes in navigational aids or required inspections of the aids. It has not established a formal system for communicating with mariners, but instead relies heavily on informal meetings and contacts with mariners to discuss specific problems. Many mariners believe that a formal program to discuss navigational problems is needed. Discrepancies to navigational aids are not corrected quickly so that risks to mariners and the risk of claims from resulting accidents are minimized. Delays in correcting discrepancies occurred because the Coast Guard has not categorized its aids as to their importance to safe marine transportation, has a limited number of tenders for maintaining aids, and has not explored the use of private contractors. Because not all of the aids have the same significance to safe marine transportation and since they are not categorized according to significance, operating units have not been given sufficient guidance to know which aids require immediate attention.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Transportation should direct the Commandant of the Coast Guard to require the Eighth District to: conduct detailed evaluations of proposed changes to navigational aids, considering such factors as waterway use, vessel operations, and the environment; periodically inspect aids to navigation as required by Coast Guard regulations; establish a formal communication program on navigation problems with mariners; rank aids to navigation according to their importance to safe marine transportation; evaluate the appropriateness of its tenders' homeports; and explore the feasibility of using contractors to correct discrepancies when district units cannot respond in a reasonable period of time.

    Agency Affected:


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