By Leo Ryan, Editor
In an initiative that will delight shipping lines and various industry sectors, the St. Lawrence Seaway has announced its latest closing date since the vital North American waterway was founded in 1959 – notably to compensate for the impact of an eight-day strike in October by Canadian workers that prevented more than 100 vessels from transiting the system.
“Weather permitting, our projected closing dates for the Montreal-Lake Ontario section is January 5, 2024 and the Welland Canal section is January 7, 2024,” indicated Jean Aubry-Morin, Vice President External Relations, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.
“The navigation season has been extended by five days to help offset the impacts of the traffic interruption on the economy,” Mr. Aubry-Morin told Maritime Magazine. He suggested that the decision was also facilitated in part by climate change developments.
The longer season will allow particularly Canadian and foreign-flag carriers transporting wheat, iron ore, steel and general cargo to potentially add at least one extra trip to their sailing schedules through the maritime corridor of 15 locks (13 Canadian and 2 Canadian) linking the Atlantic Ocean to the industrial heartland of North America.
“The only time we closed on Jan 11 was when a vessel was stuck in a U.S. lock in 2017,” Mr. Aubry-Morin said, adding: “We are really opening the door for the recovery of what was lost in time!”
“When navigation was able to resume on October 30, SLSMC teams were committed to safely reopening the Seaway to traffic as efficiently as possible,” he recalled.
“Thanks to their professionalism and the help of our marine partners in Canada and the US, we successfully implemented our traffic restoration plan in less than 48 hours and reached full corridor fluidity in less than 7 days.”
“Recognizing that last month’s labour disruption caused unprecedented challenges across the system and beyond, we sincerely appreciate the patience and cooperation of all our industry partners as we worked tirelessly towards a resolution,” Mr. Aubry-Morin said.