First ship contest underway

Last year, Resko was the first ocean-going vessel to reach Duluth, on April 13, 2022.

The 624-foot long bulk carrier Resko, with a red and dark blue hull, sails through icy waters.
The tugboat Arkansas from the Great Lakes Fleet, meets Resko, a 624-foot bulk carrier from the Polsteam fleet, at the entrance to the ship canal on April 13, 2022, in Duluth. The ocean-going vessel traveled 2,342 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean to visit the Duluth-Superior Harbor.
Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

DULUTH — Think you know when the first ocean-going ship will arrive in the Port of Duluth-Superior?

Visit Duluth and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority are hosting the 40th annual First Ship Contest, asking participants to enter the day and time when they think the first saltie, or ocean-going vessel, will complete its 2,342-mile voyage from the Atlantic Ocean to North America's furthest-inland seaport.

Participants can enter their guess at through March 24. Prizes include a one-night stay at the Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott Duluth Waterfront and numerous passes, gift cards and discounts for area businesses and attractions.

In a news release, Visit Duluth and the Port Authority said the competition will "help usher in the 2023 shipping season — and the Northland’s moral 'victory' over winter (even if Mother Nature has other plans)."

"It officially begins the Great Lakes–St. Lawrence Seaway System navigation season and unofficially kicks off the spring/summer travel season in Duluth," the organizations said.


Last year's first saltie, the Resko, arrived April 13 at 6:32 p.m. — just two minutes away from the winning guess.

The 624-foot bulk carrier from the Polsteam fleet sailed under the Aerial Lift Bridge at 6:32 p.m.

According to the Port Authority, the earliest saltie to arrive was the Federal Hunter, on March 30, 2013, and the latest was the Diana, on May 7, 2014, a year with significant Great Lakes ice coverage.

The St. Lawrence Seaway, which connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, is set to reopen March 22.

The Soo Locks will reopen March 25. The locks connect Lake Superior to Lake Huron and the rest of the Great Lakes.

Jimmy Lovrien covers energy, mining and the 8th Congressional District for the Duluth News Tribune. He can be reached at or 218-723-5332.
What To Read Next
Get Local