Seaway activity bursts past 40 million metric tons in 2018, more than a decade high

The tonnage on the waterway during the 2018 navigation season totaled 40.9 million metric tons. The highest result since 2007, much of the credit for the increase in tonnage can be given to healthy movements of grain, the best on record since the turn of the century. Marketing efforts under the “Highway H2O” initiative served as a catalyst to spur increased movements of a broad range of cargoes including grain, road salt, stone, cement, gypsum and refined fuels.

“We are very pleased with the results recorded over the past year,” said The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) President and CEO Terence Bowles. “After completing the first year with Hands-Free Mooring installed at all of our high-lift locks, it is gratifying to see that our efforts to boost system efficiency and heighten our competitive position are bearing strong results. This new mooring technology eliminates the need for special vessel fittings, enabling the St. Lawrence Seaway to welcome a broader range of ships from the world fleet.”

Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, said, “Total tonnage on the St. Lawrence Seaway exceeded the 5-, 10-, and 15-year averages, making 2018 an exceptionally strong shipping season, the best in over a decade. In particular, we were pleased to see heightened activity on the Seaway in December. Overall gains in year-over-year commodity increases were widespread, most notably in U.S. grain export trade. The investments in Seaway infrastructure and technology are achieving greater efficiencies for our customers and enhancing the binational waterway’s global competitiveness.”

The 2018 navigation season concluded on December 31, with the transit of the Cedarglen through the Welland Canal’s Lock 8 ‎at 12:35 p.m., heading for Lake Erie. In the Montreal sector, the M.V. Floragracht was the last ship to transit, clearing the St. Lambert Lock at 7:45 p.m. December 30 as she proceeded on her voyage to Europe.

The St. Lawrence Seaway enables cargo to move within North America and also serves as a vital international gateway, supporting trade with more than 50 countries across the globe. Since its opening in 1959, almost 3 billion metric tons of cargo valued at over $450 billion has moved through the St. Lawrence Seaway’s 15 locks.

Andrea Lee