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Hands-Free Mooring Technology Fully Operational at all St. Lawrence Seaway Locks

2019-06-07

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 U.S. Department of Transportation's Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) announced that Hands-Free Mooring (HFM) technology is fully deployed throughout the Saint Lawrence Seaway.  The new technology revolutionizes the method for locking vessels through the Seaway and is the most important technological advance since the Seaway's opening in 1959.
"This new technology is a significant modernization of the St. Lawrence Seaway's infrastructure, and will enhance workplace safety, lower operating costs for carriers, and decrease vessel transit times through the locks," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.
The SLSDC invested $23 million to install HFM technology in the U.S. Snell Lock and the U.S. Eisenhower Lock.  The Seaway's HFM project is the first use of this technology for an inland waterway, and the SLSDC has prepared its workforce with the skills necessary to implement the new system. (HFM was completed on all Canadian locks in the Seaway in 2018.)
"The Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation has a long history of implementing technological innovations to improve the safety and efficiency of its operations," said SLSDC Deputy Administrator Craig H. Middlebrook. "Hands-Free Mooring will dramatically improve the vessel transit experience through the Seaway by enhancing safety and achieving greater efficiencies in freight movement."

 

The HFM system uses vacuum pads, each of which provides up to 20 tons of holding force.  The vacuum pads are mounted on vertical rails inside the lock chamber wall to secure the ship during the lockage process as it is raised or lowered while keeping it a fixed distance from the lock wall.  The last step in the lockage operation consists of releasing the vacuum and retracting the pads so that the vessel can sail safely out of the lock.

The full implementation of this new technology is important to the Seaway.  Last year, there was a 7 percent increase in vessels transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway, moving 41 million tons of cargo through the binational waterway.  The increase in shipping in the St. Lawrence Seaway is the highest cargo total since 2007.

 

 

 
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