Soo Locks open as 2019 shipping season begins

Lock and dam operators wait for deckhands as the Stewart J. Cort enters the Poe Lock just minutes after midnight.

The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan opened March 25, marking the beginning of the 2019 Great Lakes shipping season.

“The up-bound motor vessel Stewart J. Cort, a U.S.-flagged 1,000 foot freighter, is the first ship to enter the Poe Lock,” said Jeffrey Harrington, Operations Section Chief of the Corps’ Soo Area Office.

“Maintaining navigation on the Great Lakes is one of the Detroit District’s core missions and the Soo Locks is really the linchpin of the Great Lakes Navigation System,” said Lt. Col. Greg Turner, District Engineer, Detroit District. “While we are aggressively moving forward on building the new lock at the Soo, we must remain focused on keeping the existing infrastructure in good working order. The incredible team of dedicated professionals in Sault Ste. Marie and Detroit deserve our thanks for successfully completing another massive winter work program. I couldn’t be more proud.”

The locks were officially closed on January 15 and underwent critical repairs and maintenance during the 10 week winter shutdown. Extensive work was performed on the Poe Lock, including weld inspections and repairs on the upstream gate, replacement of anchorage links for the dewatering gate, minor repairs and inspection on the intermediate and downstream gates, and underfloor drainage cleaning.

The MacArthur Lock underwent repairs to the filling and emptying valve bulkhead slots and replacement of anchorage links for the dewatering gate and intermediate gate. A formal periodic inspection was also completed. The MacArthur Lock, located on the south side of the Poe, will continue undergoing maintenance until mid-April.

Andrea Lee