FAA restricts drones near DOD and USCG ships, subs

October 30, 2018  - By
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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued more drone flight restrictions — this time, near U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard vessels operating in the vicinity of Naval Base Kitsap, Washington, and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia.

Drone operations are required to maintain a distance of at least 3,000 feet laterally and 1,000 feet vertically from the ships and submarines.

The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Nebraska returns to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following sea trials. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Lt.Cmdr. Michael Smith, Commander, Submarine Group Nine)

The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Nebraska returns to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following sea trials. (Photo: U.S. Navy/Lt.Cmdr. Michael Smith, Commander, Submarine Group Nine)

At the request of the Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States Coast Guard (USCG), the FAA is using its existing authority under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations § 99.7 — “Special Security Instructions” — to address concerns about potentially malicious drone operations over certain, high-priority maritime operations.

The special security instructions, provided in an FAA Notice to Airmen (NOTAM), are now in effect. Additional information on these special security instructions includes a visual depiction and geospatial definition of the relevant airspace.

The FAA also warns drone operators that the USN and USCG vessels are authorized by law to take protective action against drones perceived to be safety or security threats, which could result in seizure, damage or destruction of the drones.

Operators who don’t comply may face civil penalties and criminal charges.

Any operator with an overriding reason of public interest or necessity (such as conducting a search-and-rescue mission) to operate their drone in close proximity to the cited USN and USCG vessels must first coordinate with the USN or USCG point of contact.

In a separate Special Notice Advisory NOTAM, also effective today, the FAA strongly advises drone operators to remain clear of DOD and Department of Energy (DOE) facilities and mobile assets, as well as USCG vessels.

The notice applies nationwide and alerts operators who ignore this caution and conduct drone flights perceived to be a safety or security threat to these facilities and mobile assets could face a reaction by security forces that results in the interference, disruption, seizure, damage or destruction of their drone.

Information can be found here on these two NOTAMs, and all of the locations currently covered by § 99.7 restrictions. This website also provides an interactive map, downloadable geospatial data, and other important details. Additional information, including frequently asked questions, is available on the FAA’s UAS website.

About the Author:


Tracy Cozzens has served as managing editor of GPS World magazine since 2006, and also is editor of GPS World’s sister website, Geospatial Solutions. She has worked in government, for non-profits, and in corporate communications, editing a variety of publications for audiences ranging from federal government contractors to teachers.

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