See Our Way

As each of us stands upon our collective docks awaiting the first ships of yet another season on the Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway System, we must look within ourselves to see our way forward.

On June 26th, 1959, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, so aptly stated that “this waterway, linking the oceans of the world with the Great Lakes of the American continent, is the culmination of the dreams of thousands of individuals on both sides of our common Canadian-United States border.” It is with that notion in mind that we must once again acquaint ourselves with the passion that sets our collective vessel in motion.

The Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway system is not defined by any one cargo, vessel or voyage but rather by a diverse and dynamic culture of individuals from every corner of the Lakes themselves. “Our system” is one which places people before profit, consistency before competition, and pride before politics. In do so, we continue to fortify a cultural enigma of resolve, resilience, and reliability that is Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway Shipping.

With that, it is my great honor to serve our system as a mariner, Port Director, and President of the American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA). While any of our respective roles are for but an instant in the annals of Great Lakes shipping, we can only hope to leave our mark in a way that inspires our fellow leaders, associates, customers, and the public we serve.

For me, having been immersed in our industry since birth, the Great Lakes represent a way of life. They define every aspect of my personal and professional being. My family has experienced our industry’s finest hours and most challenging moments. I have battled wind and wave in raging storms and plied the majestically calm waters of the mighty inland seas. I have stood before the challenge of barren waterfront facilities and reveled in the many milestones of a revived seaport. Inevitably, my inspiration through this journey, ashore and at sea, has been and will always be, the people who stand next to me.

Nowhere in the world is there another system of marine highways that is so deeply engrained within the fabric of the communities which surround it. Whenever one asks where we live, work, and recreate our most common answer is the “Great Lakes.” Not a particular neighborhood, street, city or state but rather the region as a whole. Why? Because we, as inspired people, are proud of where we are from and seek to share our overflowing abundance of industrial and ecological marvels for the good of our nations (U.S. & Canada).

While the Great Lakes St Lawrence Seaway system is not without its challenges, it is our response to those challenges which has hardened our ironclad identity. We must think of ourselves as one Great Lakes Port fighting to ensure that freight flows through our waterways because our system is the most environmentally conscious, efficient, and economical means of reaching the industrial heartland of America. We must tell our story in a purely positive manner that is one rivaled by our mutual admiration for each other’s efforts. We must diversify our cargoes while ensuring that commerce flows to its most logical destination despite the century old supply chains of our coastal competitors.

In closing, I am humbly appreciative of the opportunity to share what may be just a glimpse into the depths of my motivation and would like to express my sincerest thanks to my friend and our Seaway Administrator, Adam Tindall-Schlicht whose passion for our industry and persona of positivity can serve as an inspiration to all of us.

May the 2023 shipping season be filled with passion, inspiration and prosperity.

“Keep On Tuggin’”

Capt. Paul C. LaMarre III

This was originally published in the Winter 2023 edition of the Seaway Compass published by the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The Start of a New Season

At the Port of Monroe, the most difficult part of our year is determining when the old shipping season ends and the new one begins. Other ports around the Great Lakes are closed for the winter, as are the Soo Locks and St. Lawrence Seaway, but the Port of Monroe has remained open.

Last week, the tanker Iver Bright called on our Turning Basin dock to discharge liquid asphalt. The tanker was assisted to and from the berth by the tug Georgia. The Georgia, one of many tugs operated by the Great Lakes Towing Company, provides ship assistance and icebreaking services so that vessels can safely call on the Port in the winter. There hasn’t been any ice to contend with in the River Raisin lately, but we’ve certainly had our share of winter weather.

This week, the Harvest Spirit made its first visit of the season, calling on our riverfront dock with a load of steel coils. The Harvest Spirit was built in 2012 at the Sefine Shipyard in Altinova, Turkey as the Zealand Juliana, and visited the Great Lakes a handful of times during its career on saltwater. Its name was shortened to Juliana in 2015 and McKeil purchased the vessel in 2020.

It is just over 500 feet long, 73 feet 10 inches wide, and 35 feet 5 inches deep. As its name suggests, the Harvest Spirit is primarily used to carry grain. These trips typically begin in Thunder Bay, ON and end at Windsor, ON. From Windsor, it is a quick trip across Lake Erie to Nanticoke, ON. where the ship’s steel coil cargoes originate from.

The steel is manufactured by Stelco and staged for shipment by vessel. The Harvest Spirit’s three deck-mounted cranes make it the perfect vessel to haul coiled steel. The Nanticoke-Monroe route is a year-round transportation solution for regional manufacturers, as it is much more efficient to move 500 or more coils by water than by truck or rail. Once the coils are offloaded at Monroe, the Port’s terminal operator DRM Terminal Services ensure that coils are efficiently loaded for last-mile delivery to customers.

After delivering coils to Monroe, the Harvest Spirit assumes its regular Thunder Bay-Windsor trade route. Since joining the McKeil fleet, the Harvest Spirit has become one of the most frequent callers to the Port of Monroe. It’s also one of the busiest ships on the Great Lakes, operating at a time while other cargo vessels are still wintering. That will change in the coming weeks, as crews report back to fit-out vessels in advance of the new shipping season. In Monroe, that season has already begun.