Luck of the Lakes Raffle – 2020

You could win the trip of a lifetime or $10,000 cash!

Imagine yourself on the deck of a 1,000-foot freighter as it steams across the vast waters of Lake Superior. Pretend for a moment you’re watching a giant vessel work through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. Envision a tour of the engine room and the pilothouse—something very few of the general public will ever see. Picture yourself tasting the world-famous Great Lakes Freighter meals specially prepared from an Interlake chef.

Can’t quite picture it? Unless you’ve taken a Great Lakes freighter trip, it can be hard to appreciate how incredible it really is. See for yourself by watching the short video below. If a freighter trip really isn’t for you, there is always the option to take $10,000 cash!

You simply have nothing to lose! This is your chance for a trip of a lifetime OR a $10,000 cash prize. PLUS, every cent earned goes to support our mission, to preserve and make known the history of the great lakes.

Now, more than ever, your support is vital.

Your purchase ensures our continued operations during these difficult times. With over $80,000 of lost revenue due to forced closure over the COVID-19 pandemic, your Luck of the Lakes raffle ticket supports the National Museum of the Great Lakes during an unprecedented time of need.

Raffle Details

Tickets can be purchased until noon on Saturday, September 26, 2020. The drawing is held the evening of Saturday, September 26, 2020 at our H2Oh! Gala.  You do not need to be present to win. There are three ways to enter:

  1. Purchase your raffle ticket(s) online.
  2. Download, complete, and mail back this entry form.
  3. Call the National Museum of the Great Lakes at 419.214.5000.

You could win:

  • GRAND PRIZE: Interlake Steamship Company Freighter Trip for 4-6 people for 4-6 days (or $10,000 cash)*
  • RUNNER UP: J.W. Westcott Trip – Deliver mail to freighters on the only floating zip code in the U.S. with 4-6 friends ($500 cash)**
  • THIRD PRIZE: 6 tickets for the 2021 Luck of the Lakes Raffle

* Interlake Freighter trip must be used in the 2021 season. Arrival and departure times may vary. Passengers must be 18 years of age, in good health, and able to negotiate a 45 ft. aluminum ladder to board most commercial vessels. Winners have the option to take $10,000 cash in replace of the freighter trip. 

** J.W. Westcott Day trip must be used in the 2021 season. In replace of the trip, winners may select a $500 cash prize.

NOTE: Raffle drawing date is subject to possible delays based on current community health conditions.

Sub M Progress – an Update

Source: MarineLink

Subchapter M, the United States regulatory code dealing with towing vessels and requirements for towing vessel safety, has officially been in place since July 20, 2016, when the U.S. Coast Guard finalized Sub M rulemaking.

Since the rules were finalized there have been a couple of important hammer dates. In spring and summer 2018 the first certificates of inspection (COI) were issued. COIs are central within the Sub M program. A vessel needs a COI to legally operate. (All vessels were required to comply with Sub M by July 20, 2018. The COI publicly denotes and registers that compliance.) A COI is valid for five years; then it needs to be renewed. Sub M also requires annual vessel inspections. The USCG’s inspection fee is $1,030 per vessel, billed annually.

A second important date occurred this past summer: July 22, when at least 25% of a company’s towing vessels were required to have valid COIs. On July 20, 2020, at least 50% of vessels must have COIs. This incremental approach continues to July 19, 2022, when 100% of impacted vessels need to be COI compliant.

On the one hand, this measured phase-in allows an orderly start to a program that the Coast Guard estimated in 2016 would “affect approximately 5,509 U.S. flag towing vessels engaged in pushing, pulling, or hauling alongside, and the 1,096 companies that own or operate [those vessels].”

But make no mistake, Sub M is a complex and complicated program for vessel owners, the Coast Guard and newly allowed third party operators (TPO) who function as a kind of proxy for the USCG. TPOs can issue COIs (although, upon review, the USCG can overrule a TPO’s work). The TPO option was included in Sub M to provide an alternate pathway for compliance. The TPO provision greatly expanded the personnel and resources available to implement – by deadline – Sub M’s extensive and expansive demands.

As the Sub M program approaches its next July deadline Marine News checks in, to get at least a high-level perspective about how implementation is proceeding.

The Coast Guard’s public information on Sub M startup is a bit scattered, and sparse. There are no public-facing websites, for example, with summary information on vessels inspected, or total COIs issued.

In response to Marine News’ questions, the USCG’s Sub M team had only rather general replies.

Thomas “Scott” Kuhaneck is on the Coast Guard’s Domestic Commercial Vessel Compliance Staff. He said that “as with any new program, there are going to be some growing pains.” He mentioned three areas that needed some smoothing out: vessel audits using the TSMS option; enforcement for harbor assist vessels; and deficiencies in record keeping and reporting, again for vessels using the TSMS option. TSMS refers to “towing safety management system,” an opt-in provision that provides a bit more program flexibility.

Kuhaneck said approximately 1,500 COIs have been granted so far, or 27% of EPA’s estimated 5,509 vessels. That’s an important metric: Sub M is on track.

In response to a question about Sub M and USCG resources, Kuhaneck said, “There have been no issues that I am aware of relating to a lack of personnel or resources.”

Top goals for 2020, Kuhaneck said, are to get to the required 50% level for COIs and bringing single vessel owner/operators into the program. Small operators were given extra time at startup; their initial deadline was 2020, not 2019.

The American Waterways Operators (AWO) is the national trade association for the U.S. tugboat, towboat and barge industry. AWO’s Responsible Carrier Program served as a model for Sub M development.

AWO is laser-focused on Sub M and regularly updates its members. Last February, an AWO survey showed that the average COI processing time was two to three months. Priority concerns for members included casualty notification and investigation and requirements pertaining to machinery and electrical systems and equipment. AWO members preferred the TPO option.

Caitlyn Stewart is AWO’s Senior Director for Regulatory Affairs. In her report to AWO members she references an issue that emerged from the February survey: industry concerns about official communications across Captain of the Port Zones, communications to ensure consistent decision-making among OCMIs – officers in charge of marine inspections. Indeed, from recent discussions with company representatives, this is still a common concern.

In October, in a meeting with AWO, the Coast Guard presented summary data regarding vessel deficiencies and detentions from July to September (the government shutdown at the start of 2019 slowed Sub M’s progress).

Of 655 deficiencies, the highest number – 122 – related to the main propulsion engine or propulsion and auxiliary machinery. Thirty-three deficiencies were due to structural conditions, and 21 were related to navigation safety. Other concerns included lifebuoys, lifejackets, firefighting equipment and appliances, and related fire safety requirements. Seven of nine towing vessels detained during this period had excessive oily water in the bilge and/or engine room.

More recently, Sub M was a priority topic at AWO’s annual Midwest, Ohio Valley and Southern Regions’ meeting in January in New Orleans. After the meeting, Stewart was asked to update some of the members’ concerns. Again, she cited the issue of trying to meet Sub M requirements that can be interpreted and applied differently in different Captain of the Port zones.

In discussions, individual towboat operators also highlighted this cross-zone issue.

Consider comments from Gregg Thauvette, VP Operations, Sales & Marketing for the Great Lakes Towing Company, based in Cleveland. Great Lakes operates more than 30 tugs stationed in 12 different Great Lakes ports, territory that includes four different CG Sectors and nine CG Stations.

Thauvette’s operations clearly demonstrate industry’s inter-zone concerns. A tug from Cleveland, for example, may be repositioned to Toledo, thereby moving from Coast Guard Sector Buffalo to Sector Detroit. Thauvette commented that “the interpretation of the requirements of Subchapter M from one Coast Guard Sector or Coast Guard Station to the next can vary significantly,” leading to “confusion for both the Coast Guard and industry.”

To standardize implementation, Thauvette suggests that Sub M decision making authority needs to be more centralized. He proposes that CG leadership should choose one Sector to be the “law of the land”, so to speak.

The Towing Company has met Sub M’s initial goal: 25% of its vessels had COIs by the June 2019 deadline and the company is on schedule to meet the 50% requirement. But it hasn’t been easy, and scheduling inspections is challenging. Thauvette commented, however, “that (our TPO) and our local USCG have been very accommodating. There has been a real sense of ‘we are all in this together’ at this level.”

Another concern that emerged from AWO’s January regional meeting pertains to equitable compliance, or more bluntly, that some operators may be skirting the program. Central to this is what the COI number count actually means. Recall that by July 22, last year, 25% of a company’s vessels needed a COI. That’s not the same as 25% of all vessels on a waterway.

AWO’s Stewart said the CG is working to clarify COI numbers. There could be a mismatch between total vessels with COIs in a port versus COIs granted to singular operators. Consider: in a port zone with 100 vessels 25 may have a COI. Yes, that’s 25%. But if eight vessels are owned by one company, five owned by a second and 12 are owned by two or three other companies, that aggregate total doesn’t mean that 25% of each company’s fleet has a COI – Sub M’s fundamental demand.

Mary McCarthy is Director of Safety and Quality Systems for Canal Barge Company, Inc., based in New Orleans.

For Canal Barge, “startup was pretty much what we expected and planned for,” McCarthy said, “mostly because the industry and the Coast Guard had collaborated on the regulation for a decade.”

She cited three issues: again, initial challenges across different Coast Guard sectors and different COI application requirements. A second concerned a USCG Policy Letter regarding whether certain inspection decals would remain valid, thereby satisfying a COI inspection requirement. Third, initial uncertainties about returning a vessel to service after an accident.

For Canal Barge, McCarthy said “these issues have mostly been resolved due to continued open dialogue between industry and the Coast Guard.”

David Orme is Chief Operating Officer with Carlisle & Bray Enterprises, a full services marine company with 23 vessels based in Covington, Ky., across from Cincinnati on the Ohio River. Orme said Sub M startup has proceeded smoothly. The company has been able to align the inspection process with C&B’s operational needs, and half the company’s vessels are in compliance with Sub M. C&B works with the CG for COI inspections.

Orme commented that Sub M’s annual inspection fees are rather excessive given the “substantial costs already associated with maintaining equipment consistent with requirements and costs associated with downtime/loss of production.” He suggests an inspection every five years unless a company has a history of violations.

Orme suggests a re-look at other Sub M regs. He questions, for example, whether the same requirements should apply for brown water operations versus blue water. But he expects Sub M to evolve “as experience and common sense are evaluated and applied.”

Sub M progresses in waters that aren’t yet placid, but surely navigable. But keep watch: revised inspection fees are on the horizon. We’ll update.

 

Walberg Supports Great Lakes Restoration, Infrastructure, and Jobs

Washington, D.C. – Today, with Congressman Tim Walberg’s support, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 7575, the Water Resources Development Act of 2020, a bipartisan bill that provides improvements for Michigan’s ports, locks, ecosystem restoration, and other waterway infrastructure projects. H.R. 7575 also includes provisions to combat harmful algal blooms, support the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund, and authorize construction of the Brandon Road Lock and Dam to prevent the spread of Asian Carp into the Great Lakes.

“Maintaining and improving our water infrastructure is critical for Michigan’s jobs and ability to generate economic growth. In particular, it will help facilitate commerce at the Port of Monroe and ports throughout our state,” said Walberg. “Passage of this bipartisan legislation is also a big win for the long-term health of the Great Lakes. By combating threats like algal blooms and Asian Carp, we are taking significant steps to preserve this treasured resource for future generations to enjoy.”

Great Lakes shipping stays afloat amid COVID-19

Source: The Detroit News

The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt many sectors of the economy, but Great Lakes shipping appears to be mostly staying afloat.

The federal government’s St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. released a report Thursday showing total tonnage of goods down 8.4% in the first half of this year, but U.S. and Canadian grain up 3.3% from a year ago.

Iron ore, steel and iron shipments are down from last year but started to rebound last month with month-over-month increases.

The freighter Algoterra moves up the Detroit River against a vibrant sunrise near Wyandotte in this June 27, 2019, file photo.
“Through June, we saw shipments stabilizing, with traditional Seaway cargos including grain and steel on an uptick,” said Craig H. Middlebrook, deputy administrator of the U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., in a release. “General cargo tonnage continues to be strong, attributable in large part to increasing movement of wind turbine components.”

Overall tonnage was at 11.7 million metric tons, down 8.4% compared to this time last year, according to the report. U.S. and Canadian grain was at 3,554,000 metric tons this year, a 3.3% increase.

Dry bulk cargo was down 9.9% compared to last year and includes coke, stone, cement and clinkers, ores and concentrates and pig iron. Iron ore was down 14% compared to this time last year.

The top-performing commodities were grain, salt, gypsum, steel slab and asphalt.

Sri Talluri, professor of supply chain management at Michigan State University, said the report is good news. He said he attributes the freight activity in part to Europe and Asia flattening the curve with respect to COVID-19.

“So certainly recovery is unfolding in those parts of the world,” he said. “Also, given that the trajectory of the disease is quite different in different parts of the U.S., it might be helping as well.”

The Port of Monroe is among eight American ports across five Great Lakes states to handle shiploads of wind-related components. The domestic side of the port had a slow start to the season in April with the temporary shutdown of heavy industry, but picked up in May, said Paul C. LaMarre III, the director of the Port of Monroe, the state’s only seaport on Lake Erie.

The port’s international shipments are largely project-driven. The port is working with Spliethoff Group’s BigLift Shipping and Ventower Industry to move, handle and manufacture wind towers for a General Electric project in Isabella County.

The Port of Monroe is handling the tower section, machine heads and the hubs, LaMarre said, adding that the wind project “has had us exceptionally busy.”

“We’re having the most fruitful season in the port’s history,” he said. “That isn’t necessarily the story that is spanning the entire system, but one thing is for sure is that the Great Lake’s St. Lawrence Seaway System is resilient.”

Work continues on at the port with workers socially distancing, wearing masks, taking temperatures and looking out for one another, LaMarre said.

“That has kept us in a position where we really haven’t missed a beat,” he said. “It’s allowed us to be efficient, safe and to this point, very successful despite some very challenging circumstances.”

Pandemic Response

Source: Great Lakes Seaway Review – Volume 48 – Number 4 – April-June 2020

As the supply chain goes, DTE Energy in Monroe, Michigan was impacted by the loss of regional manufacturing. Demand for power decreased, leading
the company to reduce operation to one of four generating units. Coal and limestone deliveries to the Port of Monroe were cancelled. Decreased power generation led to a loss of the byproducts synthetic gypsum and bottom ash which export from the port. With the plant now operating at full power, business at the Monroe port has increased, which positively impacts Midwest Energy Resources, Interlake Steamship Company, Grand River Navigation, to name a few. “It is our resilience Paul LaMarre III which will define our 2020 shipping season as a whole,” said Paul LaMarre III, Monroe port Director, noting that the port is already on track to handle the most international/Seaway cargo in its history. “Because the port is home to Ventower Industries, which is one of only four wind tower manufacturers in the United States, we are well positioned to be a multimodal congregation and distribution hub for wind components manufactured at Ventower and elsewhere.” This season, BigLift’s Happy River will call on the port every eight days to deliver wind turbine sections from Becanour, Quebec.

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Port welcomes largest project in history

Source: The Monroe News

The port will be called on 14 times for the project, handling about 560 wind tower segments in total.

Wind energy components are breezing through ports across the Great Lakes this shipping season.

The trend is benefiting the Port of Monroe, which is in the midst of handling one of its largest cargo endeavors.

A partnership between the port, Monroe-based Ventower Industries — a company that specializes in fabricating wind turbine towers — and Spliethoff Group’s BigLift Shipping is supporting General Electric’s wind energy efforts in the state.

Every eight days, the port handles a shipment of forty wind tower segments, according to Port Director Paul LaMarre III.

“The port has come a long way,” LaMarre said. “We have become a congregation and distribution hub for wind tower segments … It is the largest project in our history.”

The shipments, which take off from Becancour, Quebec, traverse the St. Lawrence Sea, the 2,300-mile marine highway that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. They are being handled by the M/V Happy River, a BigLift ship.

The port will be called on 14 times for the project, handling about 560 wind tower segments in total.

“It comes down to relationships,” LaMarre said. “If you build relationships, the cargo will come.”

General Electric has a partnership with Ventower, which has produced several wind energy components for the company, according to LaMarre. Ventower has long used the port to move its products, he added.

That relationship drew the attention of General Electric, which saw the port’s logistics capabilities as advantageous, LaMarre said.

“At a time when other great lakes port are struggling to find any cargo, the relationships and business the port has built will ultimately provide to our sustainability,” he said.

The project is particularly important to the port due to a slow start to the shipping season, which usually begins in March.

COVID-19 had an impact on the port, LaMarre said, adding that cargo was scarce during the early days of the pandemic.

Limestone and coal account for a large part of the port’s business. There was less of a demand for the two as heavy industry and businesses were closed or restricted in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.

DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Plant also was impacted, LaMarre said. The utility generates a lot of business for the port, he added.

“When industry is nonoperational, little electricity is being used,” LaMarre said. “Humanity by itself doesn’t place place as much demand on the electrical grid as heavy industry does.”

For the first two months of the season, the port had no cargo to handle. It started receiving shipments in early May and coal shipments to the power plant have returned to a near-weekly basis, according to LaMarre.

The size and weight of the wind tower segments will help keep the port on track to beat its tonnage from last season, LaMarre said. Last month the port received a Pacesetter Award, which is given to ports that annually increase their handling of international shipping tonnage.

The pandemic also has changed operations at the port, which is taking extra precautions, LaMarre said. No COVID cases have been reported to the agency, he added.

All workers wear masks when on the dock. Port workers also stay on the dock when handling cargo while workers on vessels remain on their ships.

“It’s been challenging, to say the least,” LaMarre said. ”… we continue to count our blessings every day. Without this project this year, we would be facing significant challenges.”

Port of Monroe earns another award

The local port has once again received the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, a recognition given to domestic shipping industry leaders by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

Regulations and shifting industry demands haven’t turned the tide against the Port of Monroe.

The local port has once again received the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, a recognition given to domestic shipping industry leaders by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp.

The award was for 2019 shipping season, which saw some of the port’s most diverse cargo handlings, said director Paul LaMarre III.

“To be one of the ports to receive this award. I feel an immense sense of pride …” LaMarre said. “I am proud of the relationships we have built, the vessels that have touched our dock … and the men and women who breathe life into our facility.”

The Pacesetter is given to American ports along the St. Lawrence Seaway that increase their international tonnage compared to the previous year.

This is the fifth time in seven years that the port has received the award. It also was recognized for its 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2018 shipping seasons.

The streak shows how far the port has come in recent years, according to LaMarre. He has led efforts to attract more international business since he came to the port in 2012.

Before then, the port had not handled international cargo since the 1960s, he said. He credits the growth to partnerships with Spliethoff and Big Lift, international shipping businesses, and the work of its terminal operator, DRM Terminal Services.

“In 2012, the Port of Monroe was an overgrown industrial site,” LaMarre said. “Today, it is one of the most prosperous seaports on the Great Lakes.”

The 2019 shipping season was the most active for the port when it came to handling international vessels, according to LaMarre.

What was most notable about it was the port’s reach, including routes that touched Egypt, the Netherlands, Peru and Canada, he added.

The last season saw the Happy Ranger call on the port to deliver a new stator to Fermi 2 nuclear power plant, boasting one of the heaviest and most valuable shipments to travel the seaway, LaMarre said.

After the Happy Ranger delivered the stator from the Netherlands, it then turned around and loaded wind tower segments from Ventower, which were delivered to Peru.

“It was sheer logistics perfection … it extended our community’s reach on a global scale,” LaMarre said. “It’s proof positive that our port and its partners are making our mark on global logistics.”

Other international vessels handled liquid asphalt and salt, which accounted for the largest increase in tonnage.

“You can move countless specialized components, but nothing equals the volume of bulk cargo and the tonnage that generates,” LaMarre said.

The other ports to receive the designation are the Port of Chicago; the Duluth Seaway Port Authority in Minnesota; the Port of Green Bay, Wisconsin, and the Port of Oswego Authority, New York.

SLSDC’s Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook congratulated this year’s award recipients in a press statement.

“The dedicated team of professionals at our ports work hard to move increasing amounts of cargo safely and efficiently,” he said.

Despite a slow start to the shipping season because of the impact of COVID-19, LaMarre said the port is on track to receive the award again next year.

“The award is a testament to our growth and resilience,” LaMarre said. “We have had countless challenges — it is the resilience of the port’s team … that made this possible.”

St. Lawrence Seaway active with international shipments, moving global supply chain

American ports in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system record particularly noteworthy increases in project cargo as they advance the global supply chain, trading with 22 countries during the first two months of the navigation season. Year-to-date total tonnage—from the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway on April 1, 2020 through May 31, 2020—is situated at 7.7 million metric tons (mt), down 10.2 percent compared to this time last year.

“In times like these, it is reassuring to see our ports in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System working hard to keep the supply chain moving. The Great Lakes Seaway marine transportation system is critical infrastructure, and remains vital to keeping commerce flowing without disruption in order to support North America’s agricultural, manufacturing, construction, energy, and mining industries,” said Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

Wind Energy Components Soaring at American Great Lakes Ports

With an increased focus on commodity diversification through project cargo, international shipments of wind energy components in the Great Lakes region are taking off. During the first two months of the 2020 navigation season, shiploads of wind-related components were handled across five Great Lakes states at eight American ports, including: Port of Monroe, Port of Erie, Port of Buffalo, Port of Ogdensburg, Port of Bay City, Port of Menominee, Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor and Port of Chicago.

Attracting new business through wind-related cargos and Seaway activity, both Port of Monroe and Port of Buffalo are benefiting from notable increases in shipping traffic.

“If there was a single word to describe the Port of Monroe, it would be resilient,” said Paul C. LaMarre III, Port Director, Port of Monroe. “Everything we have done puts relationships and the broader industry as a whole first. I believe, if you build the relationships, the cargo will follow it.”

Of these relationships, this navigation season brings to light a particularly impactful partnership between the Port of Monroe, Spliethoff Group’s BigLift Shipping, and Ventower Industry—one of four wind tower manufacturers in the United States—all working together to move, handle and manufacture wind towers for a General Electric project based in Michigan.

The Port of Monroe, serving the project as an advantageous congregation point for high value wind components coming by rail and vessel, now welcomes BigLift’s M/V Happy River on a nonstop shuttle delivering wind tower sections manufactured in Bécancour, Quebec every eight days.

In addition to logistical advantages due to the Port’s geographical location, BigLift’s vessels are particularly well suited for the Port of Monroe due to their size and the Port’s draft restrictions. To date, the M/V Happy River completed three voyages to Monroe—with eleven more planned—carrying forty wind tower sections per trip.

“The wind project and the tower sections are the lifeblood of our port this season,” said LaMarre. “Not only is this project impactful from the number of vessel calls, which will be the highest in our history for Seaway cargo, it’s with a partner that we’ve been in the trenches with for five years, has the majority of the Port’s laydown area being utilized, is using multiple modes of transportation, and sustaining our port workforce and partners in challenging times.”

Similarly, the Port of Buffalo is off to a strong start, filling their docks a total of thirty-two days since their navigation season began on April 12, 2020. To date, the Port of Buffalo welcomed three Seaway shipments of wind turbine components—two from Germany and one from Korea—and are expecting two more in the coming week.

“To the Port of Buffalo, handling these wind turbines means a full dock for the season. Not only are we unloading the vessels, but we’re also loading the trucks that take them to site. So, this is an opportunity to keep us busy all the way into fall,” said Patricia C. Schreiber, Port Director, Port of Buffalo.

Seaway ports see cargo volumes set for rebound

Source: MarineLog

While St. Lawrence Seaway cargo volumes decreased during the past two months due to economic shifts related to COVID-19, the Chamber of Marine Commerce reports industry leaders as saying that the Seaway is ready to play its part in the economic recovery efforts in the coming months.

Overall, St. Lawrence Seaway tonnage from March 15 through May 31 totaled 7.7 million metric tons, down 10% compared to the same time period in 2019. Road salt and project cargo shipments such as wind turbine components have remained strong throughout the last two months. However, cargo volumes of steel-related materials, construction materials, and petroleum declined.

“Great Lakes-Seaway shipping has continued to get the job done during these challenging times, safely delivering vital grain, renewable energy supplies and manufacturing inputs for domestic needs and world markets,” says Bruce Burrows, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “Ship operators, ports, suppliers and the Seaway operators have really pulled together to put protective measures in place for our workers and the public and to ensure our transportation system has continued to operate throughout the pandemic without interruption or delay for our customers. Moving forward, Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway shipping is ready to support ongoing efforts to restart the U.S. economy.”

DRY BULK DOWN, GENERAL CARGO UP

Dry bulk cargo shipments on the Seaway were down 5%. However, one of the first areas of improvement expected in cargo volumes are construction materials as pandemic-related restrictions continue to be lifted.

Year-to-date general cargo shipments via the St. Lawrence Seaway, including project cargo like wind turbine components and aluminum, were up 3.5%.

The Ports of Indiana-Burns Harbor has received 15 shipments of wind turbine components over the last two months. “We expect at least 10 more shipments of U.S.-built wind tower sections moving by deck barge from Manitowoc, Wis., down to Burns Harbor. These will be coupled with nacelles, hubs and blades being produced in Europe that are arriving into Burns Harbor via the Seaway,” says Ian Hirt, Port Director for the Ports of Indiana-Burns Harbor. “We are also expecting several vessels containing components for gas-powered electrical generation stations that are being constructed in the area. These are emblematic of a shift in energy production in the region away from coal-powered electricity.”

Tonnage at the Port of Toledo was down 12% in May compared to May 2019 which is attributed to COVID-19, flooding and poor grain harvest last fall.

“Our grain shipments are down significantly, but we’re hoping a good 2020 harvest will help us make up for some of the loss at the end of the season,” says Joseph Cappel, vice president of business development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. “The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically impacted construction and manufacturing and the associated demand for raw material and petroleum products. We expect that as the economy continues to recover, the recovery will be reflected in our tonnage numbers.”

The bright spot for Toledo in May was general cargo, which is up over 225% from last year. “We have handled a tremendous amount of aluminum at the general cargo facility so far in 2020,” says Cappel. “Smelters continue to produce aluminum and the Port of Toledo is a strategic location where metals can be stored and rapidly deployed into the marketplace when conditions are right.”

At the Port of Duluth-Superior, general cargo and grain had strong showings, but other tonnage categories were impacted by the pandemic.

“May was an especially difficult month in the Port of Duluth-Superior, with effects of the coronavirus slowing the tonnage pace in each major cargo category,” says Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “Through May 31, total tonnage trailed the 2019 pace by 28.5%, led by a sharp decline in coal tonnage due primarily to diminished demand from power plants on the lower Great Lakes. Iron ore, the port’s perennial tonnage leader, also slipped in May, ended the month 6% behind last season’s pace.

On a brighter note, grain tonnage finished May almost 26% ahead of the 2019 pace and 39% ahead of the five-season average. General cargo tonnage also registered an increase, closing the month approximately 9% ahead of last season and 11.5% above the five-season average.”

TRADE WITH 22 COUNTRIES

The U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said that U.S. Seaway ports traded with 22 countries during the first two months of the navigation season, recording particularly noteworthy increases in project cargo, even though overall tonnage was down 10.2% compared to this time last year.

“In times like these, it is reassuring to see our ports in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System working hard to keep the supply chain moving. The Great Lakes Seaway marine transportation system is critical infrastructure, and remains vital to keeping commerce flowing without disruption in order to support North America’s agricultural, manufacturing, construction, energy, and mining industries,” said Craig H. Middlebrook, deputy administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

WIND ENERGY COMPONENTS SOARING

With an increased focus on commodity diversification through project cargo, international shipments of wind energy components in the Great Lakes region are taking off. During the first two months of the 2020 navigation season, shiploads of wind-related components were handled across five Great Lakes states at eight American ports, including: Port of Monroe, Port of Erie, Port of Buffalo, Port of Ogdensburg, Port of Bay City, Port of Menominee, Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor and Port of Chicago.

Attracting new business through wind-related cargos and Seaway activity, both Port of Monroe and Port of Buffalo are benefiting from notable increases in shipping traffic.

“If there was a single word to describe the Port of Monroe, it would be resilient,” said Paul C. LaMarre III, Port Director, Port of Monroe. “Everything we have done puts relationships and the broader industry as a whole first. I believe, if you build the relationships, the cargo will follow it.”

Of these relationships, this navigation season brings to light a particularly impactful partnership between the Port of Monroe, Spliethoff Group’s BigLift Shipping, and Ventower Industry—one of four wind tower manufacturers in the United States—all working together to move, handle and manufacture wind towers for a General Electric project based in Michigan.

The Port of Monroe now welcomes BigLift’s M/V Happy River on a nonstop shuttle delivering wind tower sections manufactured in Bécancour, Quebec every eight days. To date, the M/V Happy River has completed three voyages to Monroe—with eleven more planned—carrying forty wind tower sections per trip.

“The wind project and the tower sections are the lifeblood of our port this season,” said LaMarre.

Similarly, the Port of Buffalo is off to a strong start, filling its docks a total of 32 days since its navigation season began on April 12. To date, the port has welcomed three Seaway shipments of wind turbine components—two from Germany and one from Korea—and is expecting two more in the coming week.

Five U.S. Great Lakes ports win SLSDC awards

Source: Maritime Magazine

The U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation(SLSDC) has announced that five U.S. ports in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System received the agency’s Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award for registering increases in international cargo tonnage shipped through their ports during the 2019 navigation season. The winners are the Port of Chicago, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, Port of Green Bay, Port of Oswego and Michigan’s Port of Monroe (pictured in photo).

“The St. Lawrence Seaway and its ports are vital to America’s freight transportation network, job creation and economic growth,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.

“Congratulations to the five Great Lakes ports being recognized as Pacesetter Award recipients for their achievements during the 2019 Seaway navigation season,” said SLSDC’s Deputy Administrator Craig H. Middlebrook. “The dedicated teams of professionals at our ports work hard to move increasing amounts of cargo safely and efficiently.”

The SLSDC Pacesetter Award was established in 1992 to recognize the achievements of U.S. ports whose activities resulted in increasing international tonnage shipped through the St. Lawrence Seaway, excluding Canada, in comparison to the previous year. More than 237,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity are supported annually by movement of various cargoes on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System. (photo Port of Monroe)