The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) announced the arrival today of its new tugboat, the Seaway Guardian, in Massena, New York. The vessel has been on a three-week journey through the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida, and up the Atlantic seaboard from the Gulf Island Shipyards in Houma, Louisiana, where it was constructed. The Seaway Guardian is the first new American-built tugboat to join SLSDC since the Seaway opened 61 years ago.
“The St. Lawrence Seaway is important because it provides access to American raw materials, manufactured goods and agricultural products to be exported all over the world. Many thanks to the Wisconsin-based crew that sailed the new tug on its long journey from the shipyard to the Seaway,”said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao.
Construction of the Seaway Guardian, which is capable of operating in difficult ice conditions, began in 2018. The SLSDC chose Robert Allan Ltd. in Vancouver, British Columbia, to adapt its proven TundRA 3600 ice-class tug design for work on the St. Lawrence.
Officials from the SLSDC and Robert Allan Ltd. toured Ocean Tundra, a TundRA 3600 ship-assist and tethered-escort tug operating for Ocean Group in Quebec. Although Seaway Guardian’s primary mission differs from Ocean’s tug, the tour gave SLSDC officials a better understanding of the size, layout and capabilities of the TundRA 3600 series.
The keel was laid on June 26, 2018, and the 118’ x 45’ x 17.5’ vessel launched on September 12, 2019. Sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico were completed in June of this year and the tug began its delivery voyage to SLSDC’s marine base in Massena on July 2.
The tugboat’s primary missions will be buoy maintenance and ice management. It will also assist in firefighting and emergency operational response on the St. Lawrence Seaway. The new tug cost $24 million to construct as part of the SLSDC’s Asset Renewal Program. The tug will replace the 62-year-old vessel, Robinson Bay, which the SLSDC will maintain as back-up for the foreseeable future.
Shipping on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System sustains more than 237,000 jobs and generates $35 billion in economic activity annually. The St. Lawrence Seaway stands to see continued growth, following the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), a comprehensive, 21st-century agreement with two of the United States’ most critical trade partners. (photo SLSDC)