Skip Navigation


Security Levels


Waterways Management Division

The division handles the day-to-day waterway management issues and concerns that arise on our busy waterways which encompasses Southern Lake Michigan, and over 186 miles of river including the Chicago River (Main, North, and South branches), the Calumet River, the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, the Des Plaines River, and the Illinois River.  

They work closely with various waterway stakeholders and users including: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Chicago and Rock Island Districts, the City of Chicago, the Illinois River Carriers Association, American Waterways Operators, Chicago Park District, Private and Public Developers, USCG Eighth and Ninth District Aids to Navigation and Bridge Branches to not only ensure that commercial mariners have free and unobstructed use of our Federal navigable waters, but that all users maintain equal access to safe and secure public waterways.

They also review applications for marine event permits and draft local notices to mariners including temporary and permanent safety and security zones as well as broadcast notices to mariners.


Facilities Branch

The Facilities Branch conducts the annual MTSA Compliance exams for 83 facilities required to meet the security regulations found in 33 CFR 105.  These inspections include the review and approval of Security Plans; on-site verification of the plan's implementation, documentation, and training; as well as participation in drills and exercises.  MTSA Security Spot-checks (an abbreviated version of the annual MTSA Compliance exam) are also conducted randomly throughout the year at each regulated facility.

Additionally, our Facilities Inspectors oversee annual safety and environmental compliance inspections of 56 facilities that transfer bulk oil and hazardous materials and 5 facilities that transfer cargoes of a particular hazard.   These inspections include the review and approval of Operation and Emergency Manuals, as well as Response Plans in preparation for on-site visits to ensure compliance with federal regulations including verification of documentation and training, participation in drills and exercises, and transfer monitors of oil and hazardous materials.

Response Branch

One of the primary missions of the Response Branch is emergency response to pollution incidents.  This includes containment and clean-up of oil discharges and hazardous substances introduced into the navigable waters of the United States.  Whether the incident involves a few gallons of diesel from a pleasure boat or thousands of gallons of fuel oil from a large vessel, our pollution responders use the best tools and contract the best equipment and personnel to clean up the spill and lessen environmental damage.  Our personnel are trained in Incident Command System procedures and carry the qualifications of Pollution Responder (PR) and Federal On Scene Coordinator Representative (FOSCR).  By all available means we ensure persons responsible for discharges are contacted and directed to initiate mitigation and clean-up action.  In a joint effort to minimize damage to the environment caused by pollutants, the Marine Safety Unit coordinates response efforts to spills with other involved agencies, including other Federal, State and local partners.  

The Response Branch has several other functions besides pollution response, including:

Inspections Division

A primary mission of MSU Chicago is to ensure that commercial vessels operating within the MSU's area of responsibility are in full compliance with applicable federal laws and regulations.  Our marine inspectors ensure that vessels are seaworthy and properly maintained.  This includes ensuring machinery, steering, and other engineering systems function properly; that vessel repairs are made in accordance with established standards; that crews are adequately trained and proficient in their duties; and that lifesaving and firefighting equipment is properly maintained and readily available  The current fleet of vessels in MSU Chicago's area of responsibility is 166, resulting in an average of 1,218 inspections per year  The types of commercial vessels operating within the MSU's area of responsibility include:

The ultimate goal is to reduce the risk of injury to persons, damage to property, and to protect the marine environment.

Investigations Division

The Investigations Division is responsible for investigating reports of:

1.  Marine accidents and casualties.
2.  Misconduct, negligence, incompetence or violations of law or regulation by credentialed merchant mariners, and when appropriate, present the government's case before an Administrative Law Judge.
3.  Violations of marine safety laws and regulations.
4.  Damage to Coast Guard maintained aids to navigation.
5.  Certain recreational boating deaths, waterfront facility casualties and other incidents as directed.
6.  Internal command affairs as directed.

The Investigations Division is also responsible for:

1.  Conducting audits of marine employer drug testing programs
2.  Responding to requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

These investigations seek to determine cause and detect violations of law/regulation which contributed to the casualty.  It is the goal, that through these investigations similar incidents might be prevented.

Tenant Commands
Planning Detachment

Detachment of two civilian employees from Sector Lake Michigan that handle port security and contingency planning needs in the MSU Chicago area of responsibility.  To plan and prepare Sector Lake Michigan to respond to contingencies in accordance with the National Response Framework in the Marine Safety Unit Chicago area of responsibility.   This is accomplished through area maritime safety and security plan development incorporating communication with federal, state, and local stakeholders to coordinate and evaluate exercises.

Electronic Support Division Detachment (ESDD)

Detachment of two active duty electronic support personnel co-located at MSU Chicago that service all Coast Guard units in the greater Chicago area.

Coast Guard Investigative Service (CGIS)

Resident Agent Office Chicago is staffed by three Special Agents and is currently co-located with MSU Chicago.

Other Local Units
 USCG Auxiliary  U.S. Coast Guard Recruiting
 Station Calumet Harbor  Station Wilmette
 Station Michigan City
Last Modified 2/3/2016