VTS San Francisco Training
Union Pacific Railroad Bridge
Tugboat Communications with the Bridge
The purpose of the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge (UPRRB) Communications Protocol (also called the “UPRRB Protocol”) is to facilitate predictable, safe, and efficient passage underneath the UPRRB drawbridge lift span. The UPRRB Protocol works by standardizing radiotelephone communications between the bridge and approaching vessels.
When used properly, the protocol has proven to aid in increasing safety and in preventing unnecessary delays to vessel and train traffic.
There have been several recent incidents involving confusing radio communications between tugboats and the UPRRB. These incidents caused potential delays for the tugboats attempting to transit underneath the railroad drawbridge and could have resulted in a more serious situation.
These recent incidents would not have occurred if the UPRRB Communications Protocol had been used properly.
Solution: Follow the UPRRB Communications Protocol
When a UPRRB drawbridge lift is necessary, follow the steps and use the precise verbiage described in the UPRRB Communications Protocol.
The bridge shall open when the lift is requested and the bridge shall do a full lift whenever it lifts.
33 CFR 117.5 When the draw shall open—Except as otherwise required by this subpart, drawbridges shall open promptly and fully for the passage of vessels when a request to open is given in accordance with this subpart.
Vessels are prohibited from requesting an unnecessary lift.
33 CFR 117.11(a) Unnecessary opening of the draw—No vessel owner or operator shall signal a drawbridge to open if the vertical clearance is sufficient to allow the vessel, after all lowerable nonstructural vessel appurtenances that are not essential to navigation have been lowered, to safely pass under the drawbridge in the closed position.
Cancel Lift Request
“UP Railroad Bridge this is the tug Ranger making an Advance Call. I will call you at thirteen-thirty to request a full lift. Over.”
“UP Railroad Bridge this is the tug Ranger at the Martinez Marina making Lift Request. Request a full lift now.”
“UP Railroad Bridge this is the tug Ranger at the Martinez Marina canceling the Lift Request. No bridge lift is required.”