Coast Guard patrolling Charleston waterways this weekend for annual campaign

Coast guard crews, along with members of the North Charleston Police Department and the S.C. Department of Natural Resources will be out in force this weekend around the Charleston Harbor and Intracoastal Waterway.

Operation Dry Water began Friday and will last through Sunday. The purpose of the annual campaign is to significantly reduce the number of alcohol and drug-related accidents, injuries and deaths among recreational boaters through education, detection and enforcement.

“The purpose is not to keep people from participating in boating activities,” said Lt. Jeffrey Prebeck, the command duty officer at the Coast Guard Sector Charleston command center. “Our primary concern at all times is safety. We advise boaters to operate their vessels with caution.”

According to the Coast Guard, alcohol was the cause of 277 boating accidents nationwide over the last year. There were 108 deaths and 247 injuries. Federal, state and local marine law enforcement officers made 318 arrests for boating under the influence during the 2014 Operation Dry Water weekend.

Reach Melissa Boughton at 937-5594 or at Twitter.com/mboughton.