Proposed change ruled nun too good

In May 2003, the U.S. Coast Guard published in the Federal Register a notice of proposed rulemaking entitled Update of Rules on Aids to Navigation Affecting Buoys, Sound Signals, International Rules at Sea, Communications Procedures, and Large Navigational Buoys. As is customary, an invitation for comments accompanied the notice, and among those received and printed in the Federal Register Vol. 69 No. 87 for Wednesday May 5, 2004, was the following (and no — it wasn’t a joke; the author verified it with the appropriate federal authorities):

“The Coast Guard should remove the term ‘nun buoy’ from its regulations and internal policies and procedures because, the term is not only ‘gender specific,’ but also has religious implications.”

Facing the problem head-on (so to speak), the Coast Guard observed that if “nun” were changed to “conical,” as was suggested, chart abbreviations would then be “c” for can and “c” for conical, with the obviously resulting “c” (for confusion). Decision: The United States would continue to adhere to the worldwide tradition of cans and nuns.

Whether or not the Coast Guard would request nuns to change their habits was not addressed.

By Ocean Navigator