Federal Dart sets first saltie of season record
It's the earliest an oceangoing vessel has arrived, beating the old record by two days.
DULUTH — When the 656-foot Federal Dart passed under the Aerial Lift Bridge at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, it became the earliest oceangoing vessel to arrive in the port of Duluth-Superior.
It beat the previous first-saltie-of-the-season record set March 30, 2013, by two days, according to Jayson Hron, spokesperson for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.
The Federal Dart, a Marshall island-flagged ship owned by Fednav, arrived with 23,000 short tons of Turkish cement and will unload it at the CRH / Ash Grove Cement Terminal on Rice's Point in Duluth, Hron said.
According to VesselFinder.com, the ship left Turkey on March 3 and made a brief port call in Spain before crossing the Atlantic Ocean and completing the 2,342-mile voyage from the Atlantic Ocean to North America's farthest-inland seaport.
The Great Lakes shipping season began last week when the St. Lawrence Seaway connecting the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean opened Wednesday and the Soo Locks connecting Lake Superior with the other Great Lakes opened at 12:01 a.m. Saturday.
Ships that remain in the Great Lakes, or lakers, began moving Wednesday and the shipping season is now in full swing.
The Federal Dart's early arrival was aided by a low-ice year. As of Tuesday, the Great Lakes have less than 5% ice cover, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The latest first saltie of a season to arrive was May 7, 2014, a year with significant ice coverage.
Visit Duluth is now looking through entries submitted in the 40th annual First Ship Contest to determine whose guess was closest to the Federal Dart's actual arrival.