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Tug and barge launches Thunder Bay shipping season

For the first time on record, a tug and barge has opened the Port of Thunder Bay shipping season. The 2020 navigation season officially began with the arrival of the Tug Sharon M1 and Barge Huron Spirit on Thursday evening. The vessel combination came abeam of the Mission Pier entrance at 21:30 March 26, 2020.

Owned and operated by Burlington, Ontario-based McKeil Marine, the tug-barge discharged overnight approximately 5,000 metric tonnes of Calcium Chloride brine solution at Pollard Highway Products (Trillium Distribution) on the Kaministiquia River. The product is used in the Thunder Bay region as a road stabilizer and dust suppressant.

The McKeil fleet, which has recently expanded and grown its presence in the port, has garnered the Top Hat Honour for the first time with the earliest ship to arrive in Thunder Bay after the spring opening of the Soo Locks. It also marks the first Top Hat cargo discharge to take place at the Trillium Distribution facility.

Thunder Bay’s Top Hat honour is usually captured by a bulk vessel taking on its first grain shipment of the season; this was nearly the case again: the bulker Algoma Sault arrived in port for grain just hours after the Sharon M1/Huron Spirit. Another bulker that wintered in Thunder Bay, CSL Welland, has also departed the port with a grain cargo.

Captain Ray Davis and Chief Engineer Vladimir Lats receive this year’s Top Hat honours, although there is no ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo TBPA)