An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Press Release | June 6, 2024

Coast Guard supports Norfolk Harborfest 2024

PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The Coast Guard is scheduled to participate in Norfolk Harborfest 2024, which runs June 7-9 at Town Point Park, at the Downtown Norfolk Waterfront.  

Norfolk Harborfest is a maritime festival run in partnership between national, state and local organizations to encourage public boating safety.  

The crew of USCGC Sailfish (WPB 87356) will be participating in the Parade of Sail June 7 at 12 p.m. An MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Elizabeth City will be conducting a search and rescue demonstration June 7 at 2:45 p.m. and June 8 at 1:30 p.m. 

Crews from Coast Guard stations Portsmouth and Milford Haven will be conducting safety patrols and enforcing a safety zone during the event.  

Historically, Norfolk Harborfest draws thousands of vessels and visitors to the Norfolk waterfront. This year’s event expects to draw a large number of spectator vessels in the vicinity of Town Point Reach.  

To assist in maintaining a safe waterway, Coast Guard Sector Virginia crews, along with regional partners, are scheduled to enforce a safety zone limiting the use of the Elizabeth River Channel June 7-9.  

Additional details are listed below: 

Waterway closures will be in effect during the following dates and times: 

  • June 7: 2:30-3:15 p.m. during a search and rescue demonstration 

  • June 7: 9:15-9:45 p.m. during a drone show, weather permitting 

  • June 8: 1:15-2 p.m. during a search and rescue demonstration 

  • June 8: 4:15-5:30 p.m. during a tug muster 

  • June 8: 9-10 p.m. during the fireworks show, weather permitting 

In the event of inclement weather waterway closures will be in effect: 

  • June 9:  8:30-9:30 p.m. during the fireworks show 

During these times, vessels are not permitted to enter the regulated area. Operators must stop their vessel immediately upon being directed to do so and must proceed as directed by first responders.  

“Our primary mission is to ensure the safety of the public as this festival provides an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate,” said Cmdr. Erica Elfguinn, Coast Guard Sector Virginia chief of response. “The regional partnerships between federal, state, and local agencies are key to creating a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone. We look forward to working together to ensure that all attendees have a fantastic and memorable experience.” 

Throughout the event, Coast Guard small-boat crews will be on scene monitoring VHF channels 13 and 16. 

From June 7 until the event is completed on June 9, buoys will mark a special spectator anchorage for boaters to view on-water exhibitions such as search and rescue demonstrations and fireworks displays. The anchorage will be west of the channel across from Town Point Park and will include all waters north of the Freedom Boat Club Marina and south of Scott Creek between the shores of the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center and on the west side of the Elizabeth River between Portsmouth and Norfolk.  

Mariners are requested to use extreme caution when transiting Town Point Reach throughout the festival. Mariners leaving the spectator anchorage are urged to maintain a vigilant lookout for other boaters in the area, energize navigation lights at night, and maintain low speeds to avoid accidents.

The Coast Guard recommends mariners heed the following safety tips below to help ensure their safety while on the water: 

    •    Always wear a Coast Guard-approved life jacket. 

    •    Don’t drink and boat. This is one of the easiest ways to prevent accidental deaths on the water. People operating vessels under the influence of alcohol pose a serious threat to you and anyone else aboard. 

    •    Make a VHF radio your go-to means of communicating in an emergency. Coast Guard crews will be monitoring VHF channels 13 and 16 during Harborfest events. 

    •    Understand navigation rules. Know how to properly navigate waterways, use safe speed and maintain lookouts to keep yourself and everyone else around you safe.