U.S. Code of Federal Regulations

Regulations most recently checked for updates: Jul 15, 2024

§ 207.440 - St. Marys Falls Canal and Locks, Mich.; use, administration, and navigation.

(a) The use, administration, and navigation of the canal and canal grounds shall be under the direction of the District Engineer, Engineer Department at Large, in charge of the locality, and his authorized agents. The term “canal” shall include all of the natural waters of the St. Marys River on the U.S. side of the International Boundary and all of the canalized waterway and the locks therein between the western or upstream limit, which is a north and south line tangent to the west end of the Northwest Pier, and the eastern or downstream limit, which is a north and south line tangent to the northeast corner of the old Fort Brady Reservation, the distance between limits being 1.9 miles. The term “canal grounds” shall include all of the United States part and other lands, piers, buildings, water level regulation works, hydroelectric power plant, and other appurtenances acquired or constructed for the channel improvement and use of the waterway.


Rules and regulations governing the movements of vessels and rafts in St. Marys River from Point Iroquois, on Lake Superior, to Point Detour, on Lake Huron, prescribed by the U.S. Coast Guard pursuant to 33 U.S.C. 475,are.

(b) Masters of all registered vessels approaching and desiring to use the locks shall, upon arriving at Sailors Encampment, Little Rapids Cut, and Brush Point, report the name of the vessel and its draft to the Coast Guard Lookout Stations at those points.

(c) Approach requirements. Upon approaching the canal, vessel masters shall request lock dispatch by radiotelephone to the Corps of Engineers Chief Lockmaster at St. Marys Falls Canal dispatch tower (Radio Call WUE-21). Every up bound vessel requiring lock transit shall request lock dispatch immediately before initiating the turn at Mission Point at the intersection of Course 1, Bayfield Channel, and Course 2, Little Rapids Cut. Every down bound vessel shall call when approximately one-half mile downstream from Big Point.

(d) When in the locks, vessels shall not blow whistle signals for tugs, supply vessels, or persons unless authorized to do so by the District Engineer or his authorized agents.

(e)(1) Manning requirements. On all vessels of 400 gross tons or over navigating the canal under their own power, the following ship's personnel shall be on duty. In the pilot house, on the bridge, the master. One mate and one able seaman shall be on watch and available to assist; in the engine room, the engineering watch officer. The chief engineer shall be available to assist. During transit of the locks, all vessels of 400 gross tons or over equipped with power operated mooring deck winches shall have, in addition to the winch operators, mates or signalman at the forward and after ends of the vessel to direct operations from points providing maximum vision of both the winch operators and canal linesmen.

(2) Linehandlers—(i) Cargo vessels equipped with bow thrusters and friction winches. Two line handlers from the vessel are required on the piers under normal weather conditions. Lockmasters can ask for three persons under severe weather conditions. If a vessel is experiencing mechanical problems or in extreme severe weather situations, the lockmaster may require four vessel-supplied line handlers on the pier.

(ii) Vessels with non-friction winches or lack of both bow and stern thrusters. Four vessel-supplied line handlers are required on the pier at all times.

(f) Vessel restrictions—(1) Speed limits. Within the limits of the canal, vessels approaching the locks shall not navigate at a speed greater than 2 1/2 miles per hour, and vessels leaving the locks shall not navigate at a speed greater than 6 miles per hour. Tugs assisting vessels in passing through the locks may be authorized by the District Engineer or his authorized agents to navigate at a higher speed when considered necessary to expedite canal operations.

(2) Use of bow/stern thrusters. Bow and/or stern thruster use shall be kept to a minimum while transiting the Soo Locks. Thrusters shall not be used while the thrusters are opposite lock gates. They may be used sparingly for short durations within the lock to maintain the ship position near the mooring wall or in an emergency. Thrusters shall be at zero thrust during the period the ship is stopped and moored to the wall with all lines out, and during raising and lowering of pool levels within the chamber.

(g) For passage through the canal, vessels or boats owned or operated by the U.S. Government may be given precedence over all others.

(h) Vessel lockage order—(1) Arrival. All registered vessels will be passed through the locks in the order of their arrival at the dispatch point unless otherwise directed by the District Engineer or his authorized agents. When a vessel that has stopped on its own business is ready to proceed, it is not entitled to precedence over other vessels already dispatched.

(2) Departure. The following order of departure procedure will apply to vessels leaving the MacArthur Lock and Poe Lock simultaneously or at approximately the same time:

(i) The first vessel to leave will be the vessel in the lock which is ready for vessel release first. The vessel in the other lock will be restrained by the gates remaining closed and the wire rope fender remaining in the down position.

(A) On down bound passages, the vessel retained shall not leave the lock until such time as the bow of the vessel leaving first reaches the end of the East Center pier.

(B) On up bound passages, the vessel retained shall not leave the lock until such time as the bow of the vessel leaving first reaches the railroad bridge.

(ii) When a 1,000 foot vessel is ready to depart the Poe Lock and a vessel has left the MacArthur Lock already, the 1,000 foot vessel may start to leave once the bow of the other vessel reaches the end of the respective nose pier.

(iii) Vessels will remain in radio contact with each other and with the Chief Lockmaster at all times until clear of the lock area.

(iv) The need for a deviation from the procedures set forth in paragraph (h)(2)(i) of this section will be determined on a case by case basis by the Chief Lockmaster. If two vessels masters agree to a different departure scheme, they both shall notify the Chief Lockmaster and request a change.

(i) Unless otherwise directed, all vessels or boats approaching the locks shall stop at the points indicated by signs placed on the canal piers until ordered by the District Engineer or his authorized agents to proceed into the lock.

(j) Vessels and boats shall not proceed to enter or leave a lock until the lock gates are fully in their recesses and the lockmaster has given directions for starting.

(k) Upon each passage through the canal, the master or clerk of the vessel or craft shall report to the canal office, upon the prescribed form, a statement of passengers, freight, and registered tonnage, and such other statistical information as may be required by the blank forms provided for the purpose.

(l) No business, trading, or loading or landing of freight, baggage, or passengers will be allowed on or over the canal piers or lock walls, or over the other piers within the limits of the canal grounds, except by prior authority of the District Engineer or his authorized agents.

(m) No person shall throw material of any kind into the canal, or litter the grounds with any refuse.

(n) The releasing of vessel steam, water, or waste from side discharge openings upon the piers or lock walls, the cleaning of boiler flues in the locks or canal, or the emission of dense smoke from the stack of any vessel while passing through the locks, is forbidden.

(o) No person shall enter or navigate the canal with a boat or other craft which, when entering or while navigating the canal, shall have an iron or irons projecting from it or a rough surface or surfaces on it which would be liable to damage the lock walls or canal piers.

(p) No person shall cause or permit any vessel or boat of which he is in charge or on which he is employed to in any way obstruct the canal or delay in passing through it, except upon prior authority of the District Engineer or his authorized agents.

(q) No person shall enter upon any part of the canal grounds except as permitted, either generally or in specific instances, by the District Engineer or his authorized agents. No person shall willfully or carelessly injure, tamper with, or damage the canal or any of the Government buildings, works or structures, trees or shrubbery, or other public property pertaining to the canal or canal grounds.

(r) Tug assist procedure—(1) Self-powered vessels. Mariners are advised that often times adverse local weather conditions, i.e., high winds, current conditions and/or inclement weather, exists as vessels approach, enter and/or depart the Soo Locks. These conditions combined with close quarters slow speed maneuvering, particularly with large vessels not equipped with bow or stern thrusters, may cause control difficulties for certain classes of vessels. Therefore, any vessel requesting lockage which in the opinion of the vessel master in consultation with the pilot on board, where applicable may experience severe control problems due to the above conditions, must request assistance by one or more tugs to ensure full control over the vessel at all times. Vessel masters and pilots must consult with the lockmaster concerning local conditions well in advance of arrival at the lock to allow tug assistance to be arranged if necessary. These guidelines apply to all vessels.

(2) Non self-powered vessels. All barges or other vessels navigating within the canal and not operating under their own power, whether approaching or leaving the locks, are required to be assisted by one or more tugs of sufficient power to ensure full control at all times.

(s) Smoking and open flames are prohibited on the canal grounds within 50 feet of any tanker transiting the canal and locks, and on board the tanker transiting the locks except in such places as may be designated in the ship's regulations.

(t) All oil tankers, barges, and other vessels which are used for transporting inflammable liquids, either with or without cargo, shall, if not equipped with fixed timber fenders, be prevented from contacting any unfendered pier, lock wall, or other structure by an adequate number of suitable fenders of timber, rubber, or rope placed between the vessel and such unfendered structure.

(u) The locks will be opened and closed to navigation each year as provided in paragraphs (u) (1) and (2) of this section except as may be authorized by the Division Engineer. Consideration will be given to change in these dates in an emergency involving disaster to a vessel or other extraordinary circumstances.

(1) Opening date. At least one lock will be placed in operation for the passage of vessels on March 25. Thereafter, additional locks will be placed in operation as traffic density demands.

(2) Closing date. The locks will be maintained in operation only for the passage of down bound vessels departing from a Lake Superior port before midnight (2400 hours) of January 14, and of upbound vessels passing Detour before midnight (2400 hours) of January 15. Vessel owners are requested to report in advance to the Engineer in charge at Sault Ste. Marie, the name of vessel and time of departure from a Lake Superior port on January 14 before midnight, and of vessels passing Detour on January 15 before midnight, which may necessitate the continued operation of a lock to permit passage of vessel.

(v) The maximum overall dimensions of vessels that will be permitted to transit MacArthur Lock are 730 feet in length and 75 feet in width, except as provided in paragraph (v)(1) of this section. Further, any vessel of greater length than 600 feet must be equipped with deck winches adequate to safely control the vessel in the lock under all conditions including that of power failure.

(1) Whenever the Poe Lock is out of service for a period exceeding 24 hours the District Engineer may allow vessels greater than 730 feet in length, but not exceeding 767 feet in length to navigate the MacArthur Lock. Masters of vessels exceeding 730 feet in length shall be required to adhere to special handling procedures as prescribed by the District Engineer.

(w) The maximum overall dimensions of vessels that will be permitted to transit the New Poe Lock without special restrictions are 100 feet in width, including fendering, and 1,000 feet in length, including steering poles or other projections. Vessels having overall widths of over 100 feet and not over 105 feet including fendering, and overall lengths of not more than 1,100 feet, including projections, will be permitted to transit the New Poe Lock at such times as determined by the District Engineer or his authorized representative that they will not unduly delay the transit of vessels of lesser dimensions, or endanger the lock structure because of wind, ice, or other adverse conditions. These vessels also will be subject to such special handling requirements as may be found necessary by the Area Engineer at time of transit. Vessels over 1,000 feet in length will be required to be equipped with six mooring cables and winches ready for use to assist in safe transit of the lock.

(x) Masters or other persons refusing to comply with the regulations in this section or any orders given in pursuance thereof, or using profane, indecent, or abusive language, may, in the discretion of the District Engineer or his authorized agents, be denied the privileges of the locks and canal grounds.

[10 FR 14451, Nov. 27, 1945, as amended at 21 FR 8285, Oct. 30, 1956; 22 FR 401, Jan. 19, 1957; 22 FR 864, Feb. 12, 1957; 31 FR 4346, Mar. 12, 1966; 34 FR 18458, Nov. 20, 1969; 40 FR 8347, Feb. 27, 1975; 40 FR 20818, May 13, 1975; 42 FR 6582, Feb. 3, 1977; 42 FR 12172, Mar. 3, 1977; 57 FR 10245, Mar. 24, 1992; 61 FR 55572, Oct. 28, 1996; 64 FR 69403, Dec. 13, 1999]