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Federal Dart sets first saltie of season record

It's the earliest an oceangoing vessel has arrived, beating the old record by two days.

ocean-going ship enters ship canal
People watch as the 656-foot Federal Dart arrives at the Duluth Entry on Tuesday in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH โ€” 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.

ocean-going ship enters ship canal
Workers on the deck of the Federal Dart are welcomed into port by ship watchers at the Duluth Entry on Tuesday in Duluth. When the Federal Dart passed under the Aerial Lift Bridge, it became the earliest oceangoing vessel to arrive in the port of Duluth-Superior.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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.

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ocean-going ship enters ship canal
The saltie Federal Dart sails past the South Pier Lighthouse while arriving at the Duluth Entry on Tuesday in Duluth. The Marshall Islands-flagged ship owned by Fednav is set to unload at the CRH / Ash Grove Cement Terminal on Rice's Point in Duluth.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

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.

ocean-going ship enters ship canal
Crew members of the Federal Dart wave at people on shore while arriving at the Duluth Entry.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
ocean-going ship enters ship canal
People and a dog greet the Federal Dart as the first saltie of the season.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
ocean-going ship enters ship canal
The Federal Dart steams into the harbor basin after traveling under the Aerial Lift Bridge.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune
ocean-going ship enters ship canal
The Federal Dart steams under the Aerial Lift Bridge at the Duluth Entry.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at jlovrien@duluthnews.com or 218-723-5332.
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