Navy To Key West Boaters: Sail Away From The Weapons Bunkers

Mar 7, 2017

The image of the liveaboard life in the Keys is free and easy — toss down an anchor and you're home. But there's one location off Key West where the U.S. Navy wants the boats at anchor to move on. Now.

Fleming Key is a small island off Key West with facilities that the public rarely sees, like the city of Key West's sewage treatment plant. And bunkers where the Navy stores weapons and ammunition.

Those bunkers have "explosive safety arcs," or areas that could be blast zones in the case of an accident. Sailing and especially anchoring within those areas is prohibited.

"Over time, boats drift and creep a little. It's kind of a maintenance thing where we have to go out and remind them to move," said Trice Denny, spokeswoman for Naval Air Station Key West. "I myself was on the boat out there looking, it's probably 20 or 30, easily."

Denny said the zones are clearly marked on nautical charts and GPS navigation systems.

"Some of these boats are a little sketchy-looking but I hope they would have some form of GPS or NOAA charts on their boats, to know where they are," she said.

Boaters who fail to move are subject to legal action, which would start with a ticket and could even lead to jail time, Denny said. But she said most boaters just comply and move out of the restricted area.