U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jul 15, 2024

§ 207.180 - All waterways tributary to the Gulf of Mexico (except the Mississippi River, its tributaries, South and Southwest Passes and the Atchafalaya River) from St. Marks, Fla., to the Rio Grande; use, administration, and navigation.

(a) The regulations in this section shall apply to:

(1) Waterways. All navigable waters of the U.S. tributary to or connected by other waterways with the Gulf of Mexico between St. Marks, Fla., and the Rio Grande, Tex. (both inclusive), and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway; except the Mississippi River, its tributaries, South and Southwest Passes, and the Atchafalaya River above its junction with the Morgan City-Port Allen Route.

(2) Locks and floodgates. All locks, floodgates, and appurtenant structures in the waterways described in paragraph (a)(1) of this section.

(3) Bridges, wharves, and other structures. All bridges, wharves, and other structures in or over these waterways.

(4) Vessels. The term “vessels” as used in this section includes all floating craft other than rafts.

(5) Rafts. The term “raft” as used in this section includes any and all types of assemblages of floating logs or timber fastened together for support or conveyance.

(b) Authority of District Engineers. The use, administration, and navigation of the waterways and structures to which this section applies shall be under the direction of the officers of the Corps of Engineers, U.S. Army, in charge of the respective districts, and their authorized assistants. The location of these Engineer Districts, and the limits of their jurisdiction, are as follows:

(1) U.S. District Engineer, Mobile, Ala. The St. Marks River, Fla., to the Pearl River, Mississippi and Louisiana; and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from Apalachee Bay, Fla., to mile 36.4 east of Harvey Lock.

(2) U.S. District Engineer, Vicksburg, Miss. The Pearl River and its tributaries, Mississippi and Louisiana.

(3) U.S. District Engineer, New Orleans, La. From Pearl River, Mississippi and Louisiana, to Sabine River, Louisiana and Texas; and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from mile 36.4 east of Harvey Lock, to mile 266 west of Harvey Lock.

(4) U.S. District Engineer, Galveston, Tex. The Sabine River, Louisiana and Texas, to the Rio Grande, Tex.; and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway from mile 266 west of Harvey Lock, to Brownsville, Tex.

(c) [Reserved]

(d) Locks and floodgates. (1) The term “lock” as used in this section shall include locks, floodgates, and appurtenant structures, and the area designated as the lock area including the lock approach channels.

(2) Authority of lockmasters. The term “lockmaster” as used in this section means the official in charge of operating a lock or floodgate. The lockmaster is responsible for the immediate management and control of the lock and lock area and for the enforcement of all laws, rules, and regulations for the use of the lock. He is authorized to give all necessary and appropriate orders and instructions to every person in the lock area, whether navigating the lock or not; and no one shall cause any movement of any vessel within the lock area unless instructed to do so by the lockmaster or his duly authorized assistants. The lockmaster may refuse passage through the lock to any vessel which, in his judgment, fails to comply with the regulations of this section.

(3) Sound signals. Vessels desiring passage through a lock shall notify the lockmaster by three long and distinct blasts of a horn, whistle, or calls through a megaphone, when within a reasonable distance from the lock. When the lock is ready for entrance, the lockmaster shall reply with three long blasts of a horn, whistle, or calls through a megaphone. When the lock is not ready for entrance, the lockmaster shall reply by four or more short, distinct blasts of a horn, whistle, or calls through a megaphone (danger signal). Permission to leave the lock shall be indicated by the lockmaster by one long blast.

(4) Visual signals. Signal lights and discs shall be displayed at all locks as follows:

(i) From sunset to sunrise. One green light shall indicate the lock is open to approaching navigation; one red light shall indicate the lock is closed to approaching navigation.

(ii) From sunrise to sunset. Large discs, identical in color and number to the light signals prescribed in paragraph (d)(4)(i) of this section will be displayed from a mast on or near the lock wall.

(5) Radiophone. Locks will monitor continuously VHF—Channel 14 (“Safety and Calling” Channel) and/or AM-2738 kHz for initial communication with vessels. Upon arrival at a lock, a vessel equipped with radio-phone will immediately advise the lock by radio of its arrival so that the vessel may be placed on proper turn. Information transmitted or received in these communications shall in no way affect the requirements for use of sound signals or display of visual signals, as provided in paragraphs (d) (3) and (4) of this section.

(6) Precedence at locks. The order of precedence for locking is:

(i) U.S. Government vessels, passenger vessels, commercial vessels, rafts, and pleasure craft.

(ii) The vessel arriving first at a lock will be locked through first. When vessels approach simultaneously from opposite directions, the vessel approaching at the same elevation as the water in the lock chamber will be locked through first. In order to achieve the most efficient utilization of the lock, the lockmaster is authorized to depart from the normal order of locking precedence, stated in paragraph (d)(6)(i) of this section, as in his judgment is warranted.

(iii) The lockage of pleasure boats, houseboats, or like craft may be expedited by locking them through with commercial craft (other than vessels carrying dangerous cargoes, as described in 46 CFR part 146). If, after the arrival of such craft, no combined lockage can be made within reasonable time, not to exceed three other lockages, then separate lockage shall be made.

(7) Entrance to and exits from locks. No vessel or tow shall enter or exit from a lock before being signaled to do so. While awaiting turn, vessels or tows must not obstruct navigation and must remain at a safe distance from the lock, taking position to the rear of any vessel or tows that precede them; and rearranging the tow for locking in sections, if necessary. Masters and pilots of vessels or tows shall enter or exit from a lock with reasonable promptness after receiving the proper signal. Appropriate action will be taken to insure that the lock approaches are not obstructed by sections of a tow either awaiting lockage or already locked through. Masters of vessels shall provide sufficient men to assist in the locking operation when deemed necessary by the lockmaster. Care shall be taken to insure prompt and safe passage of the vessel without damage to the structure.

(8) Lockage and passage of vessels. Vessels or tows shall enter and exit from locks under sufficient control to prevent damage to the lock, gates, guide walls, fenders, or other parts of the structure. Vessels shall be equipped with and use suitable fenders and adequate lines to protect the lock and to insure safe mooring during the locking operation. Vessels shall not meet or pass anywhere between the gate walls or fender system or in the approaches to locks.

(9) Vessels prohibited from locks. The following vessels shall not be permitted to enter locks or approach channels:

(i) Vessels in a sinking condition.

(ii) Vessels leaking or spilling cargo.

(iii) Vessels not having a draft of at least three (3) inches less than the depth over the sills or breast walls.

(iv) Vessels having projection or cargo loaded in such a manner that is liable to damage the structure.

(v) Vessels having chains, links, or drags either hanging over the sides or ends or dragging on the bottom for steering or other purposes.

(vi) Vessels containing flammable or dangerous cargo must have the hatch covers in place and securely fastened.

(10) Number of lockages. Tows locking in sections will generally be allowed only two consecutive lockages if other vessels are waiting for lockage unless otherwise decided by the lockmaster. If other tows are waiting above and below a lock, lockages will be made both ways alternately whenever practicable.

(11) Mooring in locks. (i) When in a lock, vessels and tows shall be moored where directed by the lockmaster by bow, stern, and spring lines to the snubbing posts or hooks provided for that purpose, and lines shall not be let go until the signal is given for the vessel to exit. Tying to the lock ladders is prohibited.

(ii) Mooring near the approaches to locks is prohibited except when the vessels or tows are awaiting lockage.

(12) Lock operating personnel. Vessels and tows using the locks may be required to furnish personnel to assist in locking through; however, the operation of the structure is the responsibility of the lockmaster, and personnel assisting in the lockage of the vessels and tows will follow the direction of the appropriate official on duty at the lock. No gates, valves or other accessories or controls will be operated unless under his direction.

(13) [Reserved]

(14) Lockage of rafts. Rafts shall be locked through as directed by the lockmaster. No raft will be locked that is not constructed in accordance with the requirements stated in paragraph (f) of this section. The person in charge of a raft desiring lockage shall register with the lockmaster immediately upon arriving at the lock and receive instructions for locking.

(e) Waterways. (1)-(5)(i) [Reserved]

(ii) Algiers Canal between the Mississippi River and Bayou Barataria, La., and on Harvey Canal, Gulf Intracoastal Waterway, mile 0 to mile 6 WHL, tows 74 feet in width will be allowed. Tows in excess of 55 feet wide desiring to move over Algiers Canal or Harvey Canal will obtain clearance from the lockmaster at Algiers Lock or Harvey Lock, respectively, before entering the canal. Overwidth tows will report clearing Algiers or Harvey Canal to the respective lockmaster and will rearrange tows to conform to prescribed dimensions immediately upon leaving the canal. The lockmaster will withhold permission for additional tows over 55 feet wide until all previously authorized tows moving in the opposite direction have cleared the waterway.

(iii)-(vi) [Reserved]

(vii) Vessels or tows shall not navigate through a drawbridge until the movable span is fully opened.

(6) Projections from vessels. Vessels or tows carrying a deck load which overhangs or projects over the side, or whose rigging projects over the side, so as to endanger passing vessels, wharves, or other property, shall not enter or pass through any of the narrow parts of the waterway without prior approval of the District Engineer.

(7) Meeting and passing. Passing vessels shall give the proper signals and pass in accordance with the Federal Rules of the Road. At certain intersections where strong currents may be encountered, sailing directions may be issued through navigation bulletins or signs posted on each side of the intersection.

(f) Rafts. The navigation regulations in this paragraph shall apply fully to the movement of rafts.

(1) Rafts will be permitted to navigate a waterway only if properly and securely assembled. Each raft shall be so secured as to prevent the loss or sinking of logs.

(2) All rafts shall carry sufficient men to enable them to be managed properly. It will be the responsibility of the owner to remove logs from the waterway that have broken loose from the raft.

(3) Building, assembling, or breaking up of a raft within a waterway may be permitted; however, the work must be done in an area that will not restrict the use of the waterway by other users. The work area must be cleared of loose logs so that they will not enter the waterway and become a hazard to navigation.

(g) Damage. Should any damage be done to a revetment, lock, floodgates, bridge, or other federally owned or operated structure, the master of the vessel shall report the accident to the nearest lockmaster or bridgetender as soon as possible after the accident. Damage to aids to navigation and to nonfederally owned bridges must be reported to the Commander, Eighth Coast Guard District, New Orleans, La.

(h) Marine accidents. Masters, mates, pilots, owners, or other persons using the waterways covered by this section shall report to the District Engineer at the earliest possible date any accident on the waterway which causes any vessel to become an obstruction to navigation. The information to be furnished the District Engineer shall include the name of the vessel, its location, and the name and address of the owner. The owner of a sunken vessel shall properly mark the vessel as soon as practicable after sinking.

(i) Trespass on U.S. property. (1) Trespass on or injury to waterway property of the United States is prohibited. No business, trading, or landing of freight, will be allowed on Government property without permission of the District Engineer.

(2) The District Engineer may establish policy pertaining to mooring, exchanging crews, loading and unloading supplies, and making emergency repairs in the vicinity of locks so long as navigation is not impeded thereby.

(j) Liability. The regulations of this section will not affect the liability of the owners and operators of vessels for any damage caused by their operations to the waterway or to the structures therein.

[36 FR 8866, May 14, 1971, as amended at 37 FR 26419, Dec. 12, 1972; 42 FR 57961, Nov. 7, 1977; 48 FR 6707, Feb. 15, 1983; 54 FR 6519, Feb. 13, 1989; 56 FR 13765, Apr. 4, 1991]