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St. Lawrence Seaway opens 60th navigation season

2018-03-14

 

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).

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation marked the opening of the Seaway's 60th navigation season today (March 29), with the transit of the newly built Algoma Niagara through Lock 3 on the Welland Canal. Marine industry stakeholders were cautiously optimistic following the waterway's 9% volume growth in 2017 to more than 38 million metric tons (driven by solid iron ore movements) and improved economic trends globally as well as in Canada and the United States.

However, there was widespread concern that an escalating trade war initiated by U.S. President Trump could affect the flow of commodities and goods on the world's shipping routes. The steel and ore trades are vital for the Seaway. At least until May 1, President Trump has exempted Canada from heavy U.S. steel and aluminum import tariffs.

State-of-the-art ships such as the Algoma Niagara serve as a key part of the supply chain serving to bolster the competitiveness of North American industry. The Algoma Niagara is part of a multi-billion dollar fleet renewal program undertaken by shipowners who frequent the St. Lawrence Seaway, underlining the industry's strong degree of confidence in the future of the waterway. As the most energy efficient means of moving cargo with the lowest carbon footprint, these newly built ships play an important role in supporting both economic growth and enhanced trade in a highly sustainable manner.

Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC), noted in his opening address that 2018 marked both the 60th navigation season for the waterway and the 20th anniversary of the SLSMC. Created in 1998 as a not-for-profit corporation, the SLSMC succeeded the former St. Lawrence Seaway Authority.

"We are very pleased to celebrate 20 years of progress" said Terence Bowles. "Since 1998, the SLSMC has worked collectively with its partners to reinforce the Seaway's competitiveness as a vital transportation artery. From being the first inland waterway in North America to implement AIS in 2003 which enables the precise monitoring of ship locations by satellite, to the recent completion of our Hands-Free Mooring system which was recognized by the OECD as a great example of innovation, the SLSMC has been at the forefront of progress within the marine industry. Our modernization program, including Hands-Free Mooring, brings about the greatest advancements in Seaway operations since its inception 60 years ago."

 

 

 

 

The SLSMC has also invested over $1 billion in asset maintenance, renewing many parts of the infrastructure that date back to 1959 in the Montreal-Lake Ontario section, and back to 1932 in the Welland Canal section. Some of the most dramatic changes have taken place within the Welland Canal, including a series of tie-ups walls that were recently rebuilt, representing an investment of $100 million. "Our steadfast commitment to maintenance and asset renewal enables the St. Lawrence Seaway to uphold its excellent record of system reliability, consistently registering above 99% year-after-year." said Terence Bowles.

Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, congratulated the SLSMC on its anniversary.  "The close collaboration between the two Seaway corporations has been a model of binational cooperation," noted Mr. Middlebrook.  "For the past twenty years, we have been fortunate to work with exceptional leaders and partners at the SLSMC, beginning with Guy Veronneau, his successor Dick Corfe, and presently, Terence Bowles.  We look forward to continuing to build on the tremendous progress we have made together for our two countries and for the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway region."

The Seaway's modernization program coupled with the marine industry's fleet renewal positions the waterway as a highly competitive transportation system. "As we enter the 60th navigation season, the Seaway has the capacity to double its current tonnage within its existing locks and channels" said Terence Bowles. "The stage has been set for a St. Lawrence Seaway that will effectively serve its stakeholders for decades to come, with strong advancements in efficiency, safety, and flexibility to respond to varying market conditions."

Group photo features, left to right, Thomas Lavigne, Association Administrator of Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Gregg Ruhl, Chief Operating Officer of Algoma Central Corporation, Tony Robinson, General Manager, Procurement of ArcelorMittal Dofasco and Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

 
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