Shipping season winds down in Port of Duluth-Superior; last lakers head in for winter layup

The 2016 Great Lakes commercial shipping season wrapped up with the closing of the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie at midnight January 15.

Boatwatchers lined the Duluth Ship Canal trying to catch glimpses of the last four freighters heading into the Port of Duluth-Superior for winter layup: Philip R. Clarke, Arthur M. Anderson, Lee A. Tregurtha and Roger Blough. Two downbound vessels left the Twin Ports January 13: CSL’s Thunder Bay and John B. Aird.

The last outbound vessel—Rt. Hon. Paul J. Martin—headed into port January 15 to load iron ore pellets at the BNSF Railway Dock in Superior for an intralake delivery (presumably to the steel mill in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario ) after which the vessel likely will layup for the winter in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

In all, nine U.S.-flag lakers will be wintering in the Twin Ports this year: American Century, American Spirit, Burns Harbor, Herbert C. Jackson, Paul R. Tregurtha, Philip R. Clarke, Arthur M. Anderson, Lee A. Tregurtha and Roger Blough. 

Throughput for the 2016 shipping season is projected to be just over 30 million short tons, down slightly from last season. Shipments of iron ore finally picked up in the last couple of months, up nearly 7 percent from this time last year. A surge in the volume of grain moving out of the Twin Ports during the last half of the shipping season pushed grain stats for the season 27 percent ahead of five-year averages.

The last saltie of the 2016 season, the Andean, departed Duluth December 22 to make her way through the Great Lakes/Seaway system before the Seaway locks closed for the season at the end of December.

Project cargo movements were steady throughout the year and Duluth Seaway Port Authority officials are looking ahead to 2017 with optimism for additional cargoes moving across its Clure Public Terminal, what with its $18 million dock expansion project complete and multiple shipments of wind energy components on the horizon for spring deliveries.

Maritime Editorial