The first oceangoing vessel of the 2018 commercial navigation season, the Federal Weser, arrived at the port of Duluth-Superior at around 9:41 p.m on Thursday.

The Federal Weser was expected to start loading Monday morning at the CHS terminal on the Superior side of the harbor - 21,400 metric tons of durum wheat bound for Algeria. If all goes according to plan, departure could be late Tuesday or Wednesday.

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An invitation-only First Ship Ceremony is planned for Monday afternoon aboard the vessel for community leaders and representatives from the maritime industry to officially welcome the captain and crew.

"Some of the world's highest-quality grains move from farmers' fields in Minnesota and North Dakota through the port of Duluth-Superior to customers in countries across Europe, North Africa and points beyond," said Kate Ferguson, director of business development for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "When it comes to shipping everything from agricultural products and iron ore to heavy equipment and project cargoes, the port of Duluth-Superior literally links the heartland of North America to the world."

Situated 2,342 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, the port of Duluth-Superior is at the westernmost edge of the entire Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System, which reopened for business a couple of weeks ago. Challenging ice conditions have slowed early season transits in the eastern end of Lake Superior and through the St. Marys River, but Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers have been working in tandem to establish tracks and assist vessels through those sections, the Port Authority said.

On a historical note, the latest arrival of this port's first saltie was the Diana on May 7, 2014, while the earliest on record was the Federal Hunter on March 30, 2013.