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Fire Island Inlet Shoaling Causes Reduced Coast Guard Responses

High sands in inlet preventing rescue equipment from leaving the Great South Bay without issues.

Credit: Patch file photo.
Credit: Patch file photo.
Increased shoaling and shifted seabed sands have caused the United States Coast Guard to temporarily limit their offshore response capabilities.

The inlet, which saw major changes during Hurricane Sandy a year ago, routinely experiences areas of shoaling, or large groups of fish, throughout the year leading to shifted seabeds. Sands on the sea floor can also be moved dramatically during and after storms, leaving the inlet to be a challenge to larger boats.

Due to the changes, the United States Coast Guard located at Station Fire Island has temporarily suspended their offshore response capabilities when using either of their 47-foot Motor Life Boats.

“We are pursuing all options, including regular soundings and possibly changing where the current channel lies, in order to provide the best level of response to the mariners in our community,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Chad Wendt, Officer in Charge of Station Fire Island in a statement.

The Coast Guard will instead respond to emergencies using a 25-foot response boat, although their capabilities in heavy seas are more limited.

Nearby stations located at Jones Beach and Shinnecock will also be able to respond to emergencies in the event the equipment at Station Fire Island will not be able to.

The Coast Guard also noted the inlet could be a danger to fishermen and other boats accessing the inlet.

“The Army Corp of Engineers is conducting dredging in the area, as part of ongoing beach replenishment project, replacing sand that was displaced by Hurricane Sandy.  If Fire Island Inlet is transited, we recommend doing so at high tide and proceeding with extreme caution," said Lt. Ben Duarte, Waterways Management Division Chief at Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound in New Haven, Conn. 

“The inlet remains open for vessel traffic, but mariners are reminded to consider the dangers of operating a vessel near shallow water and to have all required life jackets and safety equipment on board their vessel before transiting the inlet.“

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