Shipping season 2010 sets sailThe 2010 commercial navigation season gets underway on the Great Lakes this weekend with the eagerly anticipated early opening of the Soo Locks on Sunday.
The 2010 commercial navigation season gets underway on the Great Lakes this weekend with the eagerly anticipated early opening of the Soo Locks on Sunday.
With favorable spring ice conditions and to meet a critical need on the lower lakes for iron ore at steel plants and coal at power plants, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers moved up the date from March 25, and a number of operators are fitting out ships this week to take advantage of the early opening.
The commercial shipping season will commence in the Duluth-Superior harbor just after midnight Saturday with the departure of the port’s first outbound laker, Interlake Steamship Co.’s James R. Barker, from its winter berth at Superior Midwest Energy Terminal. Loaded with about 65,000 short tons of coal, the Barker will depart through the Superior Entry and make two stops with deliveries to power plants in St. Clair and Monroe, Mich.
The James R. Barker was honor for being the port’s first outbound laker of the 2009 season as well, having departed on March 30 last year, an hour after the first inbound laker, the Alpena, arrived.
There will be at least six upbound vessels waiting in the St. Mary’s River for the locks at Sault Ste. Marie to open at 7 a.m. Sunday. They include four Key Lakes/Great Lakes Fleet ships, the Presque Isle bound for Duluth to load iron ore at CN/DMIR Dock 6 and the Roger Blough, Edwin H. Gott, and Edgar B. Speer headed to Two Harbors for pellets, and two Interlake Steamship Co. vessels, the Charles M. Beeghly and Lee A. Tregurtha, bound for Silver Bay and Marquette, respectively to load ore.
One last entry in the Duluth-Superior record books will be made early next week, when the Port’s first inbound laker arrives – expected March 22 or 23.
All commercial vessels will use the Superior Entry for arrivals/departures until painting of the north tower of the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge is complete. It is scheduled to open by 6 p.m. March 31.