Eastern U.S. Rivers: Thimble Shoal Channel Restriction 

The Port of Virginia will receive the Ultra Large Container Vessel (ULCV) MADRID EXPRESS, March 6th, 2023. The vessel will arrive at the pilot station at 1:00 a.m. and moor at or before 5:00 a.m. at the Norfolk International Terminal (NIT).

Due to the overall dimensions of the vessel, the Captain of the Port will restrict Thimble Shoal Channel to one-way during the vessel’s inbound and outbound transits. The restrictions are to promote a safe transit by preventing a meeting situation between the ULCV and other vessels whose draft and size require them to transit within Thimble Shoal channel. These restrictions do not affect vessel traffic in Chesapeake Channel or vessels using the North or South Thimble Shoal Auxiliary Channels; however, the ULCV will have the right-of-way over vessels using either the deep-water or auxiliary channels. Vessels using either the deep-water or auxiliary channel shall not impede the passage of the ULCV within Thimble Shoal Channel.

Vessels with arrival times similar to the ULCV’s will coordinate with the Virginia Pilots to ensure they enter Thimble Shoal Channel safely ahead of or behind the ULCV. Vessels departing around the time of the ULCV’s arrival should arrange to take a pilot no later than four hours prior to ULCV’s arrival. Timing of departures shall be coordinated with the Virginia Pilots Association to ensure Thimble Shoal Channel is clear of outbound vessels prior to ULCV entering the channel.

Mariners are advised that arrival and departure times may shift. Should any of the information in this bulletin be changed, an updated bulletin will be issued to inform mariners.

Should you have any questions or concerns regarding this matter, contact United States Coast Guard Sector Virginia Waterways Management Division duty phone at (757) 374-3408 or VirginiaWaterways@uscg.mil .