Twin Ports shipping season set to start Monday
Two freighters are expected to leave the Twin Ports on Monday, marking the start of the 2015 shipping season in the Port of Duluth-Superior. The John G. Munson is set to move from its winter berth at Fraser Shipyards in Superior and pick up a loa...
Two freighters are expected to leave the Twin Ports on Monday, marking the start of the 2015 shipping season in the Port of Duluth-Superior.
The John G. Munson is set to move from its winter berth at Fraser Shipyards in Superior and pick up a load of taconite at the CN Duluth Dock before departing under the Aerial Lift Bridge on Monday morning, headed to Gary, Ind.
The Mesabi Miner is scheduled to leave Duluth during the late afternoon or early evening hours Monday, carrying a load of coal to Taconite Harbor on the North Shore.
Departure times are subject to change.
Ice cover has decreased rapidly at the western end of Lake Superior in recent days, but the Duluth Seaway Port Authority reported Friday that “there is still a significant amount of ice cover on the eastern edge of the Lake - 2- to 3-feet thick from Whitefish Point to the St. Marys River.
“As such, U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder will be working in tandem with USCGC Mackinaw to lay tracks and provide escorts for vessels as needed through that eastern ice pack to and from the Soo Locks.”
The locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., open for the season at 12:01 a.m. Wednesday. The Munson may be the first ship of the season to pass through the Soo Locks downbound, while several upbound freighters are scheduled to be waiting to transit the locks when they open.
The timing of the first oceangoing vessel, or saltie, to reach the Twin Ports remains uncertain. The St. Lawrence Seaway locks won’t open until April 2, and it will be at least another week after that before the first saltie reaches the Port of Duluth-Superior, the Port Authority said.
Last year the first saltie of the season didn’t arrive until May as thick ice choked the Great Lakes weeks later than normal.
“There are still some formidable ice challenges along the Great Lakes-Seaway, but nowhere near what the fleets were facing at this same time last year,” Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director, said in a news release.
“We anticipate a banner year here at the Port Terminal for project cargo moving through Duluth in 2015. … We’ll be seeing several shipments of equipment heading in from Europe and elsewhere destined for wind energy installations and oil-gas fields further north and west. All told, the Port of Duluth-Superior should see a 2 percent increase in activity during 2015. Headwinds do exist in the decline of commodity pricing (such as iron ore and oil). And the strengthening U.S. dollar will challenge exports, however import prospects will improve.”