St. Lawrence Seaway, Welland Canal open their 2008 season

The following is the text of a press release issued March 26 by St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.:
(ST. LAMBERT, Quebec) — The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) celebrated the opening of its 50th navigation season today at the St. Lambert Lock.  Richard Corfe, President and CEO of the SLSMC, was joined at the ceremony by his American counterpart Collister Johnson Jr., Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC).

“The recently completed Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Study clearly illustrates the Seaway’s importance to the continuing prosperity of our nations” said Richard Corfe. “It reinforces our initiatives in the areas of business growth, the environment and infrastructure.” 

The study identifies opportunities to utilize the system’s present locks and channels to alleviate congestion. “The marine mode continues to be the most energy efficient mode of transportation and in an era of rapidly rising fuel prices, we need to play to the strength of each mode” stated Corfe. “Moving more cargo via the marine mode augurs well for the future of our nations as we seek to lessen our dependence on petroleum and lower greenhouse gas emissions”.

The study also noted the importance of revitalizing aging Seaway infrastructure.  SLSDC Administrator Collister (“Terry”) Johnson, Jr. heralded the importance of its new asset renewal plan that will provide substantial capital investments if fully approved by Congress.  “I am confident that Congress will provide requested funds to modernize U.S. Seaway assets, helping us follow our Canadian partner’s lead in renovating the Seaway to accommodate growing future traffic needs.”

In recognition of the Seaway’s vital role within the economy and to ensure its continued reliability, the SLSMC with the support of Transport Canada will invest $270 million to refurbish the system over the next five years,

To bring about an increase in cargo movements, the SLSMC has initiated a number of strategies, including a revised tariff of tolls coupled with various incentives and volume discounts designed to attract new business to the system.  A plan to use technology to attract new vessels and cargoes to use the system’s existing locks and channels is also being executed.

At the same time, exemplary stewardship to minimize environmental impacts is a priority.  With the introduction of joint Seaway ballast water standards, all ocean vessels including those with ‘no ballast on board’ will be subjected to an inspection covering 100% of ballast water tanks.  This inspection process will ensure that every ocean vessel – while still a minimum of 200 nautical miles offshore – has applied the currently accepted best practice with respect to ballast water management by flushing all of its tanks with salt water. 

The system’s official 50th anniversary will take place next year, as the Seaway was commissioned in 1959.  Since its inception, over 2.3 billion tonnes valued in excess of $350 billion has been transported via the Seaway. For more information concerning the Seaway, and insight into its future, please visit
The following is a press release issued March 20:
(ST. CATHARINES, Ontario) — Tying a record established in 2007 for the earliest opening date, the Welland Canal ushered in the 77th navigation season since the inception of the present Welland Canal in 1932 with the passage of the M.V. Canadian Progress.

The Welland Canal continues to play a vital role within the Canadian and U.S. economies.  The bi-national Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Study, completed in 2007, highlights the key attributes of the Seaway that will continue to pay dividends for years to come.  Providing a cost effective and sustainable means of transporting goods, the system complements existing intermodal networks.

To capitalize on this potential, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation has initiated a number of strategies to maximize the use of the existing locks and channels.  These strategies include a revised tariff of tolls, which will remain frozen until at least 2011, coupled with various incentives and volume discounts designed to attract new business to the system.

Within the Welland Canal, work continues to renew assets that have been in service since 1932.  A hydraulic conversion program is almost complete, with the retrofit of Locks 2 and 3 to hydraulic drive this past winter.  With the planned conversion of Locks 1 and 8 during the winter of 2008 / 2009, all of the Welland Canal’s locks will benefit from this technology, which promises to lower long term maintenance costs.

Lock 7 is the focus of efforts to dramatically revise the means by which ships transit the canal.  A ‘vacuum mooring’ prototype will be installed this year to further advance development of a technology that successfully completed operating trials at Lock 8 last year.  Complemented by laser range finding equipment to enable a master to accurately gauge the vessel’s approach into the lock, the hands-free mooring system has the potential to streamline much of the manual labour currently required during a lock transit.

Work by Rankin Renewable Power Inc. to develop three “green” hydropower projects at the weirs adjacent to Locks 1, 2 and 3 is advancing steadily.  The powerhouses at weirs 1 and 2 are on schedule and are expected to be in-service by late September 2008.  The construction of the generating station at weir 3 is slated to start during the winter of 2009 and to be in-service by September 2009.

Since its inception in 1959, over 2.3 billion tonnes valued in excess of $350 billion has been transported via the Seaway. For more information concerning the Seaway, and insight into its future, please visit

By Professional Mariner Staff