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Deep Freeze smothers St. Lawrence River shipping

2018-01-02

McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit  won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel.  She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan;  Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).

Leo Ryan, Editor

As dramatically illustrated by the accompanying photo taken by a veteran pilot, nightmarish conditions have prevailed for commercial shipping operations on the St. Lawrence River since a Deep Freeze hit virtually all of Canada more than a week ago. The worst of the icy grip has at least several more days to go, say weather forecasters.

Since 1962, winter navigation on the St. Lawrence, permitting ocean vessels to reach as far inland as the Port of Montreal, has represented a unique world transportation phenomenon - thanks notably to ice-breaking services, when requested, from the Canadian Coast Guard.

It remains to be seen whether the current extremely harsh weather conditions will provoke ice jams of the same dimension which paralyzed shipping and port operations for an extended period in 1981. Heating and other issues have reportedly affected some vessels in the waterway.

Certain areas, like the two bridges around Québec City and the Saguenay River, present major challenges in such circumstances.

On this occasion, Maritime Magazine would like to salute the courageous efforts of all the actors involved - from ship captains, pilots, tugboat operators and the Canadian Coast Guard (doing its best with limited resources) to crew members, stevedores and dockers battling bitter cold and heavy winds while, among other arduous tasks, attempting to break tons of ice frozen onto vessels.

On the St. Lawrence Seaway too, the prolonged Arctic cold mass has complicated commercial navigation, resulting in delays in closing locks for the last vessels passing through the system. Some locks, such as those for instance at Sainte-Catherine near Montreal, could not open on Dec. 31 to let six vessels through due to ice-buildup off the lock walls and gates. (Photo Louis Rhéaume).

 
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