Clear sailing: Ice-free Seaway opens 58th navigation season

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The following is the text of a news release from the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC):

(ST. CATHARINES, Ontario) — The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. marked the opening of the Seaway’s 58th navigation season on Monday with the transit of Canada Steamship Lines’ Thunder Bay through Lock 3 on the Welland Canal. The ship, carrying a load of road salt, will be replenishing stocks depleted by ice storms which repeatedly struck eastern Canada over the winter.

“We certainly welcome the warmer weather. A return to an opening in the third week of March provides our clients with the opportunity to move cargo in a timely manner, and make the most of the navigation season,” said Terence Bowles, president and chief executive officer of the SLSMC.

Allister Paterson, president of Canada Steamship Lines, served as the keynote speaker at the opening. “It’s an honor for CSL to be opening the Seaway this year with Thunder Bay, one of our state-of-the-art Trillium-class self-unloading lakers. Like her five sister ships, this vessel is part of a new generation of vessels in the Lakes that are more energy efficient, environmentally-friendly, reliable and safe."

“The ongoing investment in new vessels by a variety of Seaway carriers underscores our customers’ faith in the future of the waterway,” said Bowles. “In parallel with our customers’ investments, the Seaway’s award-winning modernization program is now well over 50 percent complete, with hands-free mooring operational at eight of the Seaway’s locks. We are making steady progress in bringing about gains in efficiency and safety for all concerned, ensuring a highly competitive transportation system for years to come.”

K+S Windsor Salt ships the majority of the production coming from its Ojibway mine in Windsor via the Great Lakes-Seaway System. Francois Allard, director of marine distribution for K+S Windsor Salt, said, “Not only is the Seaway transportation system the most cost-effective way to reach our markets, it also minimizes our impact on the environment. The Thunder Bay’s transit from the Ojibway mine to Bowmanville takes almost 1,000 truckloads off Ontario highways. It’s important that all levels of government continue to invest in infrastructure along this waterway and we applaud the modernization of the lock system.”

“The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System continues to be an environmentally sustainable, vital route for commerce in the global supply chain,” said Betty Sutton, administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. “The Great Lakes region, North America’s ‘Opportunity Belt,' is a thriving and influential destination and the Seaway system connects this region to the world. Businesses are choosing to move their cargo through the Seaway system because of the economic benefits, safety, and reliability of our waterway, and its direct access to the heartland of North America.”

In terms of the outlook for 2016, Bowles noted that a lower Canadian dollar may spur more Canadian exports this year. “The combination of a rebound in Canadian manufacturing activity, a solid U.S. economy, and the prospect of more trade with Europe brings about several catalysts which may boost Seaway tonnage," said Bowles.

By Professional Mariner Staff