Sector Sault Sainte Marie was established on June 27, 2005 with the combination of the former Group Sault Sainte Marie and marine Safety Officer. Vessel Traffic Service St. Mary's River (Soo Traffic) was created in 1975 with the combination of the "River Patrol" and the existing communications center. VTS St. Mary's River started as a voluntary service whereby vessel traffic positions, water flow data, and weather advisories were passed to mariners by request. The U.S. Coast Guard first established a presence in Sault Sainte Marie, MI in 1916 by opening an office in the Federal Building.
The Sector is located along the St. Mary's River, which connects lake Superior with the lower Great Lakes. The river serves as a gateway for maritime commerce for Canada, the Upper Peninsula, and onto Duluth, MN. "Sault" means "to jump," making Sault Sainte Marie the place where people could come to "jump the Saint Mary's." The earliest lock along the St. Mary's River was built in 1797 and could barely accommodate vessels much larger than canoes. In 1855, Charles T. Harvey completed a system of two locks, in tandem, each 350 feet long, within the two year deadline set by the state of Michigan. On May 31, 1855, the Soo Locks were turned over to the state and designated as the State Lock. To truly appreciate the full history of the Coast Guard in the Northern Great Lakes, one must first focus on the historical milestones of its predecessor agencies.