Ipswich Lock operations procedures

Following a review of our lock operation and some of the historic issues highlighted by various users we have decided to amend and clarify some of the procedures for using the lock in Ipswich.

The Lock operates 24 hours per day. During weekends between the 1st of April and 30 September, between the hours of 0800 and 1900 and every day in July and August between 0800 and 2200, a designated lock operator operates the lock.

During all other times that duty is taken on by the Orwell Navigation Service Operator. During those times the operation will be subject to workload of the operator and port traffic. We will aim to have a lock in/out at least once per hour. 

Locking Out

From 15 May 2021, all vessel leaving the Wet dock should give 15 minutes notice to Lock Control. Call sign ‘Ipswich Lock’, on VHF channel 68.

The lock operator will give his or her best estimation on when the next lock transit will likely be. However, vessels should be prepared to come to the lock earlier if they want to avoid a lengthy delay. Vessels should continue to monitor VHF channel 68, as the lock operator may give updates on progress.

Vessels should proceed to the waiting area and present themselves for the transit Vessels should at all times keep clear of the berths to allow access and egress of other vessels. Please see illustration below.

Vessels may proceed into the lock once the green traffic light is observed. As you enter the lock for outbound transit – assume many others will be following and aim for end of pontoon nearest the outer / river gates – thus ensuring that Lock Operator does not have to ask you to move forward when other customers call up for the same lock out

Barges and commercial vessel will be asked to come in ahead of other traffic, which may be seen as skipping the que. This is for safety reasons. Leisure vessels should give required space and time for these vessels to proceed into the lock.

There are no limitations on mixing vessels when locking out as the turbulence will occur on the river side and not in the lock itself.

Locking In

Vessels seeking to lock in, continue to call ‘Ipswich Lock’ when passing the Orwell Bridge on VHF channel 68.

The lock operator will give an estimate on the earliest Lock in time. Vessels should continue to make their way to the waiting pontoon area, keeping clear of vessels exiting the lock.

As with locking out vessels should at all times continue monitoring VHF CH 68 for updates. Listen out to get a feel for the volume of traffic. If you are the only vessel in the lock, then remain towards the river gates. At all time follow the instruction of the lock operator.

Barges and commercial vessels will be locked through separately when the level is greater than 1m between the river and the dock.

Transiting the lock during free -flow.

During free-flow vessels are still required to call ‘Ipswich Lock’ 15 mins before or when passing the Orwell Bridge.

Vessels must obey the traffic light system and continue to monitor VHF Channel 68. At the end of free-flow the lock operator must close the gates and start normal lock operations. This is to preserve the dock level and to avoid damage to lock gates and auxiliary systems. The inner gates will be closed first. When transiting the lock close to HW be prepared to abort your approach at short notice or to stop in the lock.