Notice to Navigation: 2020-001 Annual Guidance on Canaveral and Okeechobee Lock Procedures


Date: 01/01/2019

EFFECTIVE: 01/401/2020 00:00 thru 12/31/2020 24:00 EST 
POC:  Gary Hipkins, South Florida Operations Office, 863-983-8101

33 CFR Navigation and Navigable Waters

Reference revised Regulations, 33 C.F.R. 207.300, and their tributaries; use, administration, and navigation, and 33 C.F.R. 207.800, Collection of navigation statistics.

The following information is furnished in addition to the above-referenced regulations to provide guidance about the procedures, control, and management of the locks on the Okeechobee Waterway and Canaveral Harbor Lock. Suggested towboat operations are also included that will enhance safety and reduce damage to Government structures, commercial vessels, and recreational craft.


1. Vessels shall not pass under dam or spillway gates when they are out of the water and the river is flowing freelythrough the gate openings.

2. Lockage of leaking, listing vessels or overloaded vessels may be refused. Leaking, listing vessels or overloadedvessels shall be moored in a location outside of the channel and outside of the Arrival Point so as not to interferewith passing navigation.

3. All craft and tows approaching a lock, within a distance of 200 feet of the upper or lower lock gates, shallproceed at a speed not greater than two miles per hour (rate of a slow walk) during normal flow conditions.

4. All tows entering the lock shall be properly aligned with the guide or lock wall.

5. It is the responsibility of the vessel operator to provide adequate mooring lines. The lock operator may requiremooring lines to be replaced with satisfactory lines before lockage is made if the lines appear to be of such quality,size, or condition that would make safe lockage questionable.

6. All towboat crews, while locking or moving a tow into or out of a lock chamber, must station themselves topreclude the possibility of being injured by the parting of a cable or line under strain. Single part lines only will beused to check a moving tow.  Working lines shall be kept dry and in good working condition to allow lines to beworked properly and to prevent injury to personnel.

7. Towboat crewmembers shall not jump between moving tows and lock or guide walls while preparing forlockage, locking, or departing lock.

8. Tabulated below are the minimum numbers of vessel personnel required for handling lines during lockages. Thecaptain/pilot cannot act as a deckhand.

9. All vessels, when in the locks, shall be moored and/or moved as directed by the lock operator.

10. Commercial towing companies shall ensure that vessel operators and boat crew members have receivedorientation and training in all aspects of deck work and lockage procedures to ensure the safety of personnel,floating plant, and structures.

11. All cylinders or containers holding gases or liquids under pressure or any other chemical or substance shall besecurely fastened to the hull of the vessel to prevent their rolling overboard into the lock chamber.

12. All containers holding paint, gasoline, or other volatile materials shall be securely fastened with tight fittingcovers.

13. The sides of all vessels passing through the locks shall be free from projections that may damage lockstructures or Manatee Protection System sensors. Suitable fenders shall be used with all commercial tows passingthrough the locks to prevent damage to the lock walls and structures. Fenders shall be cylindrical in shape and noless than 6 inches in diameter. The fenders shall be used on guide walls and lock chambers to protect thestructures. The fenders shall be manufactured or fabricated for the purpose of fendering, using woven rope;laminated, molded reinforced, natural, or synthetic rubber, or other suitable material. Single, double, or triplestrands of mooring line, with or without knots, and old tires will not be considered as suitable fenders. Lock operators may refuse lockage to all commercial and recreational vessels and/or tows not conforming to the above.



1. Commercial fishing craft and Vessel Delivery craft are included in the classification "recreational craft" whenconsidering the precedent at the locks. Operators of recreational craft and their passengers are required to wearCoast Guard approved PFDs during lockage. All vessels will be required to turn off engines during lockages toinclude bow thrusters.
2. Personal watercraft of the "sit-down" variety, (those you sit on and ride), will be accepted for lockage. The"stand-up" variety, (those that require the vessel to be moving for the operator to be out of the water), will not beaccepted for lockage unless the craft is tied off to and locked through with an approved vessel, and the operator ofthe "stand-up" craft boards the approved vessel. Operators of personal watercraft and their passengers arerequired to wear Coast Guard approved PFDs during lockage.
3. Kayaks and canoes will be locked without other vessels in the chamber for safety reason. Operators and theirpassengers are required to wear Coast Guard approved PFDs during lockage.
4. Paddleboards, sailboards and surfboards will not be locked.
5. Lock operators may refuse lockage to all commercial and recreational vessels and/or tows not conforming tothe above.


1. Lock Personnel will monitor the Marine Channel 13. All tows awaiting lockage shall monitor the appropriate lockchannel at all times.
2. Radio communications between a lock and an approaching tow are required at all times. All tows shall have apositive two-way voice communication between the pilot and the head of the tow to facilitate proper and safeapproach to the lock guide wall and subsequent entrance into the lock chamber. All tows that decide to switch toanother channel during the locking process for communication with their deckhands will be required to inform thelock personnel as to what channel they are changing to. Prior to beginning each lockage, procedural aspects of thelockage will be coordinated between the lock and vessel operators in an effort to insure a mutual and thoroughunderstanding of the locking procedure.
3. At no time will a tow or barge be left unattended. Tows will not tie off to mooring dolphins overnight or anyunnecessary length of time during hours of operation.
4. Under normal conditions, tows that can be arranged to avoid a double lockage shall be rearranged prior toapproaching the lock. Non-compliance will result in not being assigned a lock turn, until tow has been rearrangedto comply or until no other vessel awaits lockage. In a knockout lockage, the towboat shall be placed in the holealongside the rear barges and should be located sufficiently forward to allow for ample clearance between its sternand the gates. While exiting from any lockage, the towboat shall proceed slowly to reduce backwash action andpossible damage to lock gates.
5. Towboats, when entering a lock, must remain fully attached to the barges until the tow has been stopped andproperly moored. Barges within the tow configuration must be properly cabled. Lockage may be refused if lockoperator considers barge couplings inadequate.
6. When leaving the lock in down bound movement, rearrangement of tows in motion will be permitted whilepassing out of the lock at the discretion of the lockmaster. If there is a floating plant, bridges, or other structurelocated immediately downstream from the lock, these procedures shall not be used.
7. Lockage lengths in excess of 230 feet, but not more than 245 feet, will be permitted in a 250 foot chamber withthe following conditions:
a.The vessel operator shall inform the lock operator by radio, prior to arrival, as to the precise overalllength of an integrated tow (single lockage) or the cut lengths of a multiple lockage, the number of bargesin the tow, cargo type, and tonnage. Failure to provide all information may result in refusal of lockage.
b.The pilot shall be in the pilothouse and be in constant radio contact with lock personnel during theentire lockage procedure.
c.Experienced deck personnel shall be stationed at each end of the tow to monitor movement.
8. When requested, the pilot of the towboat shall provide an accurate description of the contents of any coveredor tank barge in their tow. Transiting of the locks with unknown cargos will not be permitted. All towboat pilotsare required to provide accurate, detailed information concerning commodity classification and tonnage. Lockageturn may be forfeited if tow pilots do not provide this data.
9. All deck barges loaded with rock, scrap material, construction equipment and other material shall be loaded toallow for safe passage of crew members along the edge of the barges. A minimum of 2 feet of clear space shall bemaintained along the edge of all of the barges. To protect the lock walls and equipment, nothing loaded on thebarge shall extend beyond this 2-foot clear space from the edge of the barge. The barges shall be loaded such thatthe material does not move or fall into the 2-foot wide clear space while moving or transporting the barges.Additionally, material shall be loaded on barges such that it will not become dislodged or moved during the lockingprocess, possibly falling off the barge into the lock chamber or coming to rest protruding off the edge of the barge.Lock operators may refuse lockage to all commercial tows not conforming to the above.
10. When moving or making up tows prior to leaving the lock in an upbound movement, towboat operators arerequired to keep all barges secured to the lock or guide wall. Generally, the deckhand will not release snubbingand holding lines from the lock or guide walls until the towboat is properly secured to the tow. For a single lockage,with a towboat only set over, deviating from this procedure will be allowed if the immediate situation will permit
safe departure under power and a lock operator walks a line out with the tow until the towboat is again adequately secured to the tow. However, when moving barges from the lock chamber, it is the responsibility of the vessel master to assure that adequate lines and personnel are available for safe handling and mooring of the tow or sections to the lock or guide walls. Sufficient personnel shall remain with the other sections to assure its security.
11. It is the responsibility of the Vessel Master to ensure that deckhands that are assisting with lockages arefamiliar with the location and proper use of life saving devices or rescue equipment such as safety blocks and ringbuoys and are wearing Coast Guard approved PFDs during lockage.
12. Outdraft warning signs are not used on the Okeechobee waterway or at Canaveral Harbor Lock. All tow boatoperators upon request when calling a lock system will be provided with the Dam Gate opening, if applicable andavailable, the upper and lower river gages and the current river predictions as provided by the National WeatherService. All Decisions concerning the existence of an outdraft and the effect of said outdraft will have upon theirtows will be made by each vessel operator.
13. Waterways Action Plans provides the marine industry, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers(USACE), States and local governments with a plan for facilitating the safe and orderly movement of traffic duringextreme conditions on the inland rivers.
14. Barges will be moored to the lock wall at all times during the lockage cycle. On all lockages, deckhands will notremove mooring lines until signaled to do so by the lock operator. This will be done by use of a whistle or by verbalcommand. On knockout single cut lockages, once the deckhand has been signaled to remove the mooring lines,the tow boat may proceed out of the chamber and the tow boat may face back up to the tow as the tow movesforward. If requested by the deckhand, the lock operator will assist to moor the tow to the lock wall once the towhas moved a sufficient distance along the wall so that the tow boat can face up to the tow. On all set-overlockages, the tow will move far enough along the wall to provide room to set the barges back over and face up tothe rest of the tow. The tow will then be moored to the wall until the face up process is completed. The lockoperator will then remove the mooring lines at the request of the deckhand. On all multiple cut lockages, the cutwill be pulled from the chamber using the assistance from a helper boat. The tow will then be moored to the walloutside of the chamber until the remaining cuts of the tow have been faced up to the first cut. Once the tow isfaced up and ready to depart, the mooring lines will be removed by the lock operator at the request of thedeckhand.
15. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers maintains an eight foot channel depth. Draft of vessels: No vessel shallattempt to enter a lock unless its draft is at least three (3) inches less than the least depth of water over the gatesills. Information concerning control depth over sills can be obtained from the District Navigation Charts. Forgeneral purpose information Route 1 has a maximum recommended of 8 feet @ 14.00 ft NGVD 1929. Route 2 hasa maximum recommended draft of 6 feet @14.00 ft NGVD 1929.


Notice is given that 72 hours prior to a Tropical Storm or Hurricane making local landfall locks will be open 7 AM to 10 PM supporting vessel safe harbor passage. Lock operations will stop 8 hours prior to land fall as Rail Road and drawbridges will be lowered or rotated and locked into a secure position. It's important that all vessels are at their intended destination before bridges are secured and passage across the waterway suspended. No mooring will be allowed at any lock, approach walls or dolphins during a storm event.

For Lock Operator safety the locks will:
1. Stop locking vessels or working outdoors if lightning is observed within five miles of the lock and operations will not resume until lightning has not been seen in the area for 30 minutes.
2. Stop locking vessels when winds exceed 35 MPH.

After a storm it could be days or weeks before the waterway is reopen depending on damage to structures and how quickly debris creating navigation hazards can be removed.

Operations during high water and floods in designated vulnerable areas: Vessels operating on these waters during periods when water stages exceed the level of “ordinary high water,'' as designated on Corps of Engineers' navigation charts, shall exercise reasonable care to minimize the effects of their bow waves and propeller washes on river banks; submerged or partially submerged structures or habitations; terrestrial growth such as trees and bushes; and man-made amenities that may be present. Vessels shall operate carefully when passing close to levees and other flood control structures and shall observe minimum distances from banks which may be prescribed from time to time in Notices to Navigation Interests. Pilots should exercise particular care not to direct propeller wash at river banks, levees, revetments, structures or other appurtenances subject to damage from wave action.

Lock operators have no means of pulling tows from the chamber An assist tow will be required of sufficient size to maintain safe control of the tow in any wind or current condition.

Lock hours are based on USACE Inland Marine Transportation System (IMTS) Standard Levels of

Canaveral Harbor:

Canaveral Lock                     6:00 AM to 9:30 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 9:00PM)

Okeechobee Waterway:

St Lucie Lock                                             7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)
Port Mayaca Lock                                     7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)
Moore Haven Lock                                   7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)
Ortona Lock                                              7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)
WP Franklin Lock                                      7:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily (Last lockage starting at 4:30 PM)


Lake Okeechobee water level can be viewed on the Corps of Engineers web site at

Maximum vessel width and lengths are listed below for each lock. Vessels larger than the maximum dimensions will be refused lockage.

Canaveral Harbor

Canaveral Lock maximum vessel size 85’ X 585’

Okeechobee Waterway

St. Lucie, Moore Haven and Ortona Locks maximum vessel size 45’ X 235’
Port Mayaca and W.P. Franklin Locks maximum vessel size 51’ X 385’


It is anticipated that maintenance and repairs will be performed at the following locations during Calendar Year 2020. This notice may require periodic revision. It is given so that industrial waterway users may have a general knowledge of the lock outages and can plan their operations accordingly. Factors, which may affect this schedule, are the delivery of materials, repairs required but not anticipated, emergency repairs as a result of accidents, and funding. All interested parties should review the maintenance schedule for impact. Additional notices furnishing specific information and operating requirements will be published approximately two weeks in advance of commencing the work items listed.

Canaveral Harbor:

Canaveral Lock:                                   Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD
                                                    Gate repair 12/01/2019 through 03/30/2020

Okeechobee Waterway:

St Lucie Lock and Dam                        Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD

Port Mayaca Lock and Dam              Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD

Moore Haven Lock and Dam           Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD

Ortona Lock and Dam                       Sector Gate Manatee Screen Repair and cleaning TBD


For up to date Lock information contact the shift operator 7 AM to 5 PM at:


Canaveral Lock


St Lucie Lock & Dam


Port Mayaca Lock & Dam


Moore Haven Lock & Dam


Ortona Lock & Dam


WP Franklin Lock & Dam



Gary L. Hipkins
Chief Navigation & Flood Risk Management
South Florida Operations

Navigation Depths

For daily updated lake and route depths please see our web site at:

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Canaveral Lock

Okeechobee Waterway
(Fort Myers-Caloosahatchee River-Lake Okeechobee-St. Lucie Canal)

South Florida
(Miami Area)

Northeast Florida
(Jacksonville/St. Augustine Area)

Contact Lock Operator

W.P. Franklin Lock          239-694-5451

Ortona Lock                     863-675-0616

Moore Haven Lock          863-946-0414

Port Mayaca Lock           561-924-2858

St. Lucie Lock                  772-287-2665

Canaveral Lock               321-783-5421