Worth A Thousand Words

Port director shares passion with award-winning photographs.

Paul LaMarre III, director of the Port of Monroe, captured this photo of the Interlake Steamship Company’s M/ V Hon. James L. Oberstar. The photo is part of a package of LaMarre’s pictures that was awarded first place in the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership’s second annual photo contest. [COURTESY PHOTOS BY PAUL LAMARRE III]


Paul LaMarre III knows that a picture really is worth a thousand words.

The director of the Port of Monroe has a passion for the freighters, tugboats and barges that traverse the unforgiving waters of the Great Lakes. It’s a love that he inherited from his father, Paul LaMarre Jr. It’s an affection that was fostered by a lifetime around the water.

Like his father, LaMarre also has a passion for sharing his love of these vessels through his artwork. The port director was honored recently by the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership, which awarded a package of his photos with the first- place prize in their second annual photo contest.

Two of the winning photos were of the Interlake Steamship Company’s M/ V. Hon. James L. Oberstar, while the third was a picture of the M/ V. Gagliarda unloading at the Port of Monroe on her maiden Seaway voyage. Several other photos taken by LaMarre received honorable mention recognition.

“ It’s a blessing to have the access that allows me the opportunity to try to bring people closer to the action, let’s say,” LaMarre said. “ Everybody has their own unique niche. My niche has been getting vessels underway, open lake, which nobody else has really been doing.”

LaMarre has been photographing ships since he was 5. His father is a renowned figure in the Great Lakes maritime industry and an accomplished painter and photographer of the lakes and the vessels that call them home.

“ I always say to this day, even at the port, I just want to be like my dad when I grow up and make him proud,” LaMarre said. “ I can tell you that I am as excited to show my dad a good boat picture that I have captured today as I was when I was a little kid.”

The tools LaMarre uses today to capture his breathtaking images are a far cry from the clunky cameras of his childhood. LaMarre uses a drone- mounted camera to capture photos of vessels underway.

“ Right now there’s only myself and one other guy who are getting the pictures with the drone off of a moving platform,” he said. “I was the first one to do it, fly it off a moving ship or tug and then have to recover it when you’re still on your way.”


Paul LaMarre III was just 5 when he started photographing boats. The director of the Port of Monroe recently won first place in the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership’s second annual photo contest.


While LaMarre’s unique technique allows him the opportunity to obtain truly one of- a- kind images, it’s not without its risks. LaMarre said he’s on his fifth drone and he’s ruined countless sets of propeller blades as he’s worked to fine- tune the process.

“ Some SD cards are at the bottom of Lake Erie and Lake Huron at this point,” he said. “ It is nerve- wracking every time that you recover the drone when you’re in the middle of the lake and you just had it out hundreds, if not thousands of feet from the ship. To get it back aboard has not come without a very challenging learning curve, which could include almost taking your finger off or almost taking your head off and going through a lot of propeller blades.

“ In the beginning, the best bet was to just get the drone above the vessel and drop it.”

The first time LaMarre successfully utilized his drone system was aboard the Oberstar in 2018. The ship holds a special place in his heart. He and his wife are good friends with not only its current owner, captain and crew, but also William Snyder III, the man who in 1959 was commissioned to build the vessel that was then known as the Shenango II.

LaMarre and his wife have taken two leisure trips on the Oberstar, which is when he took his award-winning photographs of the vessel.


Paul LaMarre III’s award-winning photograph of the M/ V Gagliarda as it unloads at the Port of Monroe on its maiden Seaway voyage. [COURTESY PHOTOS BY PAUL LAMARRE III]


“That boat is so special to me,” he said “It means a great deal, and I hope to capture the best images of her sailing career. She’s the only ship that I’d really take a trip on that was, quite frankly, for my own enjoyment because that connection to that vessel is so special. She’s the one.”

Through his photography, LaMarre hopes to share his passion for ships with people who are not able to have the intimate relationship with the Great Lakes that he has enjoyed his entire life. To that end, he posts at least one photo a day to his Facebook page to continue to engage residents interested in the Port of Monroe.

“ We are very limited in our ability to grant access to interested and enthusiastic members of the community, because of security restrictions now more than ever,” he said. “ Ultimately it’s Monroe’s port, and my goal is to consistently operate a purely public agency as a nonprofit, and to do it in a manner that we drive transportation- related cargo and commerce that creates jobs and generates tax revenue that will hopefully lead to a better quality of life for the citizens of Monroe.

“ I’m very blessed to have the opportunity to lead this organization, (and) to do something I feel is upholding family tradition and history and then at the same time serve (the) community.”

“ It’s a very humbling and fortunate position to be in,” he added.


Paul LaMarre III, director of the Port of Monroe, captured this photo of the Interlake Steamship Company’s M/ V Hon. James L. Oberstar. The photo is part of a package of LaMarre’s pictures that was awarded first place in the Great Lakes Seaway Partnership’s second annual photo contest.



Source: Monroe Evening News

Great Lakes Ports Work On Building Cargo Diversity

Project cargo’s growing diversification role

Throughout the vast Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system in the United States and Canada, most ports seek to diversify their customer base by developing new business beyond traditional bulk markets. Front and center in their efforts are project cargoes, especially wind energy components destined to meet the rising demands of utilities. On the horizon, too, is a project in Ohio that could soon become the first offshore wind facility in the Great Lakes.


Wind energy has been a key component of the Port of Duluth’s diversification strategy.

Wind Energy Powers Diversification

At the Port of Duluth, the top tonnage port on the Great Lakes (32 million metric tons), the Clure Public Marine Terminal handles high-value general cargo as well as project and dimensional cargoes.

Deb DeLuca, port director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, recently stated that “cargo diversity is important to any port and its catchment area. A mix of cargo spells economic stability.”

The port on Lake Superior along the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin has strong expectations for 2020 after shattering a wind energy cargo record last year. In total, Duluth welcomed 306,000 tons of wind energy cargo in 2019. This eclipsed the previous summit of 302,000 tons in 2008. Duluth Cargo Connect managed the unloading, storage and dispatch of the cargo to various sites in the Midwest.

Such a banner performance was termed “no accident” by DeLuca. “We’ve made more than $25 million in strategic investments to the terminal in the past four years, enhancements that help support the excellent work Duluth Cargo Connect does in handling these oversize wind cargoes.”

Indeed, the tower sections are long, but the blades are even longer – with some well past 200 feet.

“Wind energy has been an important part of our cargo portfolio, dating back to our first shipments more than a decade ago,” noted Jonathan Lamb, president of Duluth Cargo Connect. “As the farthest inland port in North America, we’re geographically well situated to support wind farm installations in the Upper Midwest and central Canada. We pride ourselves in providing a seamless connection between modes of transportation for our wind energy customers.”

Strapped for space and needing more laydown area, the port is adding 50,000 square feet of warehouse space and rebuilding two dock walls at a cost of $21 million, with construction planned for 2021-2023. Beyond wind components, Lamb says that Clure Terminal is targeting dimensional cargoes including transformers, reactors, pressure vessels and similar equipment serving mining, manufacturing, and oil and gas industries.

A number of U.S. Great Lakes ports are developing reputations for the efficient handling of project and heavy lift cargo. The Port of Bay City, Michigan on Lake Huron handled five wind energy cargoes in 2019. And the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled one of the more unique project cargoes in 2019 when it moved two huge rubber-tired gantry cranes (RTG) from the port to the CSX Intermodal Terminals’ facility in nearby Chicago. The 68-piece cargo arrived at the Indiana port in June aboard the HC Melina and was discharged from the vessel by Federal Marine Terminal’s (FMT) shore crane for transport to the CSX Intermodal Terminals’ Bedford Park facility, which handles domestic and international freight.

Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor

Ian Hurt of the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor, said FMT, the general cargo stevedore at the port, could perform two-crane lifts of nearly 200 metric tons, or 440,000 pounds, nearing the top of any port’s capabilities in the U.S. Great Lakes or Canada. “Intermodal transport requires all modes to work together seamlessly, and the gantry crane shipment is an example of the efficient transportation attributes and its connectivity in the Midwest,” Hirt explained.

At the Port of Monroe, Michigan’s only port on Lake Erie, coal remains the top commodity, but Port Director Paul Lamarre III has been a strong proponent of cargo diversity. And this strategy’s success is borne out by growing imports of project cargo and exports of wind tower sections manufactured at the port. More than a dozen BigLift vessels carrying wind components are expected in 2020.


More than a dozen BigLift vessels are expected at Port of Monroe in 2020.


Project cargo and heavy machinery are also handled at such ports as Detroit, Toledo and, of course, Cleveland where the Cleveland-Europe Express service operated by Spliethoff has concluded its sixth season hauling containers and breakbulk cargo between Cleveland and Antwerp.

David Gutheil, chief commercial officer of the Port of Cleveland, told the American Journal of Transportation that the port handles a significant amount of non-containerized steel, heavy lift, heavy machinery and capital equipment. Customers include General Electric, Siemens and Alcoa. He welcomed the contribution of Logistec, which has completed its first year as the general cargo terminal operator.

Proposed Offshore Wind Project on Lake Erie

Looking several years down the road, Gutheil evoked the big potential for the Port of Cleveland of a proposed offshore wind project on the shores of Lake Erie that would constitute the first freshwater wind farm in North America. Known as Icebreaker Wind, the $126 million pilot project consists of six 3.45MW turbines located 8 miles north of Cleveland. LEEDCo, a non-profit PPP, is co-developing the project with Norwegian equity investor Fred Olsen Renewables. Cleveland Public Power has committed to buying 63% of output over 16 years.

The project has won federal approval and has encountered no major public opposition (a good measure of public support, in fact). Assuming the Ohio Power Siting Board gives the green light, possibly by this spring, construction could start in 2021 and commercial operation in 2022. Ultimately, analysts suggest it could transform Ohio into a regional offshore wind-supply chain hub.

“We see much potential for us as a staging center for the energy components,” Gutheil told AJOT.

New Laydown Areas Benefit Canadian Ports

Meanwhile, officials at the U.S. and Canadian Seaway corporations are continuing to put strong emphasis on the Great Lakes/Seaway System as a non-congested and strategically-located alternative to gateways on the U.S. East Coast and Gulf for project and heavy lift cargoes.

Among Canadian ports on the Great Lakes, the newly-merged Lake Ontario ports of Hamilton and Oshawa (now called the Hamilton Oshawa Port Authority, or HOPA) are continuing to develop project cargo and breakbulk business.


Spliethoff has completed six years of its Cleveland-Europe Express service.


On the tip of Lake Superior, the investments by the Port of Thunder Bay (mainly a grain export gateway) on a new laydown area, railway yard as well as a new warehouse scheduled for completion this May are paying off with two large wind turbine projects in Western Canada slated to use the port’s Keefer Terminal for oversized cargo.

We are also handling more structural steel and railway track for Western Canada as a result of our new laydown area,” indicated Tim Heney, chief executive of the Thunder Bay Port Authority.

Another Canadian port focused on bulk shipping that has significantly diversified its customer base due to investments in bigger laydown areas is Johnstown in eastern Ontario. Last year, it welcomed 13 multi-purpose vessels carrying 29 full sets of turbines for a regional wind farm. The laydown areas have likewise accommodated steel construction beams, and steel pipes will start later this year.


Source: American Journal of Transportation

Port Of Monroe Earns Award For Cargo Work

The Port of Monroe received a Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, which is awarded by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

The Port of Monroe has once again been honored for its work with handling international cargo.

The local port received a Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award, which is awarded by the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, for the 2018 navigation season. The Port of Monroe was one of eight ports to receive the recognition.

Paul LaMarre III, the director of the Port of Monroe, received the award recently during the SLSDC’s summer meeting. It was presented by Tom Lavigne, associate administrator of the SLSDC which is an agency of the U.S. Department of Transportation.

LaMarre said the recognition wouldn’t be possible without the contributions of his team members.

“I wish the award could be chopped up into tiny pieces and that they could be given to everyone who has been a part of our success,” LaMarre said. “It is the daily grind of our team that has taken the Port of Monroe from a vacant field to a bustling seaport.”

The award is given to ports on the Great Lakes that register an increase in handling international tonnage. This is the fourth year that the Port of Monroe has received the honor. It was awarded one for its works during the 2017 and 2015 navigation seasons, as well as 2013.

“The fact that this is our fourth award in 6 years is not only representative of our growth, but also our resilience and diversity,” LaMarre said.

Though the 2019 season is still underway, LaMarre said the port has already completed the requirements to be on track to receive the award again next year.

A major component of the award was the port’s work with the Iver Bright, a ship that made its first Great Lakes voyage during the last season. The ship carried more than 4,000 tons of liquid asphalt for Suncor, a Canadian-based energy company.

The fact that the Iver Bright’s maiden seaway trip involved the Port of Monroe was highly impactful, LaMarre said, adding that the ship stayed on the Great Lakes during the winter months as it was an ice-class vessel. Its integration was a new development for the port, and the ship continues to work out of the Port of Monroe this season, according to LaMarre.

″(The ship) has essentially become one of our staple carriers,” LaMarre said.

The SLSDC’s also recognized the port’s use of its new state-funded dock. It was used for the handling of steel coils from Stelco, a steel company based in Ontario, Canada. The coils were for products in the automotive industry. The intermodal dock, a $3.6 million investment, saw its first ship, The Huron Spirit, in April 2018.

Although the coils didn’t factor into the port’s international tonnage, they were the first cargo handled at the dock, which will help with the port’s mission to grow its tonnage handling. It was a new cargo development, LaMarre said.

Tariffs on foreign steel caused that business to cease, LaMarre said, but the port is actively looking for ways to increase its opportunities in the steel market.

“The major benefit was not economics, but that we had the opportunity to prove ourselves with a new cargo that we handled very efficiently and safely,” LaMarre said. “Without the new dock, we wouldn’t have been able to handle that opportunity.”


Source: The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership