If you've seen ships stalled in the water along the Saint-Lawrence seaway, don't despair: they're not stuck in the ice, a Seaway spokesperson said, they're just waiting for their turn to cross the Saint-Catherine Locks.

In the winter, particularly in a pervasive cold snap, the walls and doors of the locks need to be constantly de-iced. This slows down the passage of the cargo ship, but ultimately is safer for everyone aboard the vessel.

Several viewers alerted CTV Montreal to the ships, spotted along the Saint-Lawrence Seaway between the Kahnawake Marina and the South Shore Canal.

At first glance, it appears that the ships stopped moving because they are trapped in the ice -- but in reality, the ships have been instructed to hold steady and moor while workers at the locks labour to speed the process in frigid temperatures.

Each ship will get its turn to cross, but at a rate that's noticeably slower for those living along the water.

The South Shore Canal is only navigable in one direction, which is why the boats are noticeably backed up. 

"The Coast Guard is trying to keep [the passage] clear, keep the locks functioning," said Andrew Bogora, a communications officer for the Saint-Lawrence Seaway Management corporation.

Although originally expected to close at 3 p.m., Bogora said the locks will remain open later than usual to accomodate the extended wait time.

He explained that crews aboard the ships are much more comfortable when a vessel holds still temporarily -- with less wind, they are not as impacted by the cold as they would be if the ship remained in motion.