Foreign Trade Vessels on the Great Lakes: The Coast Guard's Regulatory Role

The Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system, spanning approximately 2,300 miles, is a significant waterborne highway for foreign trade and commerce into and out of America's heartland. Each year, thousands of transits are made between ports on the Great Lakes by approximately 1,400 commercial vessels engaged in foreign trade. One little-known mission of the U.S. Coast Guard is to regulate private associations of U.S. pilots charged with providing safe navigation for these ships. Foreign trade vessels are oceangoing ships that are either owned or operated by foreign companies, or Canadian- or U.S.-owned or operated companies operating on registry endorsements and engaged in international trade. These vessels regularly enter the Great Lakes to deliver foreign cargo to U.S. and Canadian ports and load cargos destined for foreign countries. These vessels differ from domestic Great Lakes ships that engage exclusively in domestic trade and only rarely leave the Great Lakes system. This article discusses the pilotage, guidance, and safety measures taken by the U.S. Coast Guard on behalf of the shipping industry devoted to foreign trade that traverse the Great Lakes, as well as the regulations and rates that pertain to this industry.


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  • Accession Number: 01055319
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Aug 1 2007 12:31PM