Seaway wraps up navigation season with 9 percent increase

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced January 16 the 2017 navigation season concluded January 11, with the transit of the Federal Biscay through the St. Lambert Lock in Montreal at 6:08 p.m.

A sustained blast of Arctic air that extended from late December into January rapidly accelerated the formation of ice within the Seaway. Contending with difficult weather conditions in the final two weeks, a handful of ships were delayed by the presence of ice in several locks. Seaway employees on the ground worked diligently to maintain the locks, while staff in the control centers worked with the Canadian Coast Guard, marine pilotage authorities and other members of the marine transportation support system. Thanks to the dedication of all parties and their unrelenting efforts, the St. Lawrence Seaway concluded its 59th navigation season successfully.

Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, was quick to praise Seaway employees.

“I am very proud of the professionalism, dedication and sheer grit that Seaway employees put forward to successfully wrap up the navigation season,” he said. “In the face of weather conditions that swung from one extreme to the next, our teams overcame many challenges and all of the ships safely exited the waterway.”

Robust economic growth brought about strong gains in a number of cargo sectors, with Seaway tonnage rising by 9 percent to over 38 million metric tons of cargo. From iron ore movements stoking both North American as well as Asian steel mills, to shipments of stone, cement and steel that enabled construction activity to keep moving at a brisk pace, the Seaway once again demonstrated its role as a vital binational transportation gateway supporting virtually every sector of the North American economy.

Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said, “The final tonnage results reflect solid gains over 2016, particularly with respect to iron ore shipments, and we were pleased to see the strong finish for the year.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway system 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, over 2.9 billion metric tons of cargo valued at over $450 billion has moved through the St. Lawrence Seaway’s 15 locks.

“Without a doubt, 2017 was a good business year, and we successfully wrapped up the season thanks to the skill and dedication of our employees. Collectively, we got the job done,” said Bowles.

Maritime Editorial