U.S. Coast Guard develops boating safety app

Boaters now have access to a boating safety app released by the U.S. Coast Guard. The app was designed to give boating safety resources to mariners using a mobile device.

The free app is available on Apple App Store and Google Play store.

Features of the app include state boating information, a safety equipment checklist, free boating safety check requests, navigation rules, float plans, and calling features to report pollution or suspicious activity, according to a Coast Guard news release.

When location services are enabled, users of the app can receive the latest weather reports from the closest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather buoys, as well as report the location of a hazard on the water.

The app also features an emergency assistance button which, with locations services enabled, will call the closest Coast Guard command center.

"The release of this mobile application is a step forward for the Coast Guard as we embrace new technologies," Capt. Joe Raymond, commander of Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound, said in the release. "The intention is to make the information and resources more accessible to the boating public."

The app is self-contained, so personal information is stored on the phone and is not sent to the Coast Guard unless the user chooses to send it. Raymond stressed that the Coast Guard does not track a user's location, and the app does not track a user's location unless the app is being used.

The app is not meant to replace a boater's marine VHF radio, which the Coast Guard strongly recommends all boaters have aboard their vessels, Raymond said. The app was primarily designed to provide additional boating safety resources for mobile device users.

For more information on the app, please visit uscg.mil/mobile.