Connecticut Harbor Masters

Connecticut Harbor Masters have quite the responsibility.  The following excerpt is from the DEEP’s Boating Division.  Indeed, some content has been modified for this blog and you can read the entire article here.

The Connecticut Harbor Masters Program

The State of Connecticut DEEP serves as the administrator of The Connecticut Harbor Masters Program.  A statutory change in the law in fact transferred the responsibility from the Connecticut DOT to the DEEP on July 1, 2016.

The State of Connecticut Harbor Masters and Deputy Harbor Masters are appointed by the governor in accordance with Section 15-1 of the Connecticut General Statutes (CGS).   The appointments are for three years and will extend, if necessary, until the appointment of a new successor. Harbor Masters are responsible for the general care and supervision of the harbors and navigable waterways over which they have jurisdiction.  Furthermore, they are subject to the direction and control of the Commissioner of the CT DEEP.

In municipalities with an approved Harbor Management Plan, the Harbor Master and Deputy Harbor Master are responsible for implementing the Plan.  That is to say in accordance with CGS Section 22a-113r.  Harbor Masters work with Harbor Management Commissions to implement these plans.  Please refer to the list of Harbor Management Plans in Connecticut.   Secondly refer to the list of Harbor Management Commissions to see towns and the status of their plans.

How many Harbor Masters are there and what do they do?

Right now, there are 40 Harbor Masters and 16 Deputy Harbor Masters serving Connecticut’s harbors and waterways.  To clarify, this is just along the shoreline on Long Island Sound.  Furthermore, this includes the major rivers that flow into the Sound.

The Powers and Duties of the Connecticut Harbor Master are full of detail.  However, generally speaking, they are responsible for the following:

  • Overall general care and supervision of harbors and navigable waterways
  • Exercise authority consistent with an approved Harbor Management Plan
  • Authorized to move anchored vessels or obstructions to protect navigation
  • Removal of abandoned and derelict vessels

So here is the current list of appointed Harbor Masters and Deputy Harbor Masters as of November 9, 2021.

Who appoints the Harbor Master?

The State’s Governor appoints a harbor master.  This also may include appointing a deputy harbor master.  For instance each of the New Haven, Norwich, Bridgeport, Stamford, Norwalk, Stonington, New London and Branford harbors have deputies.  To clarify, the governor may appoint a suitable number of harbor masters and deputy harbor masters in any town in this state which has navigable waters within its limits.  It’s the municipality’s Harbor Management Commission who submits a list of nominees for these positions.

Appointments are for terms of three years beginning in July.  During this term, the Harbor Master and the Deputy Harbor Master shall at all times be vested with responsibility for the supervision of the harbors and navigable waterways of the state.

In conclusion:

There are many wheels and cogs that make a states boating program go around.  We rarely talk about Connecticut Harbor masters in our classes but they deserve a tremendous amount of credit.

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