The Port of Monroe is celebrating another milestone year.
This time it comes in the form of cargo diversity.
“The port is as vibrant as it ever has been despite rapid changes in cargo transportation,” port Director Paul C. LaMarre III said. “Cargo diversity across our docks is up.”
Despite some challenges early in 2018, the port continues to thrive. This shipping season saw the opening of the riverfront intermodal dock. The dock, a $3.6 million investment, saw its first ship in April. The Huron Spirit brought a load of steel coils for the automotive industry.
“We had an agreement to handle loads of steel coils, but only got that one shipment because of the steel tariffs,” LaMarre explained. “Effectively that business evaporated overnight.”
But LaMarre did not get discouraged.
“We are a nimble organization,” he said. “We adapt to change.”
LaMarre forged a deal with the Great Lakes Towing Co. and Great Lakes Shipyard to establish towing and shipyard services at the port.
As part of the partnership, Great Lakes Towing relocated the tug Wisconsin to the port to help with ship assistance. The tug is the oldest commercially operating tug boat in the world. It was built in 1897 in Buffalo, N.Y., by the Union Dry Dock Co.
International shipping returned to the port after a nearly two-year battle. International cargo was not able to call upon the port based on issues not related to the port.
Earlier this year, the U.S. government intervened and reopened international shipping to the Port of Monroe and the Port of Toledo.
During the 2014 shipping season, the port set tonnage records and nearly set another one the following season. LaMarre said this year the tonnage figures will be down, but the port’s diversification of cargo is up.
“ We continue to move a wide variety of cargo through the port,” he said. “ We are moving more gypsum on the dock and by rail.”
The port also is handling all the bottom ash from DTE Energy’s Monroe Power Plant, along with components for wind towers and natural gas pipeline sections.
LaMarre said this year the port’s season will continue through the winter due to a new development related to liquid asphalt.
The M/V Iver Bright, owned by Varoon, a company in the Netherlands, began calling on the port recently. The Iver Bright is an asphalt tanker that recently made its first voyage from Montreal to Monroe.
“The single voyage qualified the port for its fourth Seaway Pacesetter Award in six years,” LaMarre said.
The vessel is unique, La-Marre said, because it was built in 2012 and is an ice class vessel, meaning it can operate year-long.
“It will likely call upon the port all year, primarily between Sarnia, Ontario and Monroe,”
“When you couple our cargo activity with our industry leadership, it is evident that the port … continues to be seen as one of the most impactful ports on the Great Lakes,” LaMarre said. “It can also call upon Detroit and Toledo.”
The director anticipates this new aspect to the business will drive up the port’s tonnage in the coming year.
“It’s a significant boost during what is typically the slowest time of the year for the port,” LaMarre said.
Though many said it is LaMarre’s leadership that has driven the growth and success of the port, he credits the port’s business partners and DRM. That success will continue into 2019, he said.
“ When you couple our cargo activity with our industry leadership, it is evident that the port, though not large in tonnage, continues to be seen as one of the most impactful ports on the Great Lakes.”
The port wants the community to be involved in its operations. It launched a new website, www. portofmonroe.com, and a Facebook page where it shares its activity.
SOURCE: Monroe Evening News