St. Lawrence Seaway opens 63rd navigation season
After record harvests, grain shipments are expected to be strong early in the year
(ST. LAMBERT LOCK) — The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC) announced the opening of its 63rd navigation season Monday. The CSL Group’s Baie St. Paul, a Trillium‑class laker, was the first ship through the St. Lambert Lock in a virtual opening ceremony attended by a number of dignitaries, including Omar Alghabra, the Canadian minister of transport, and Pete Buttigieg, U.S. secretary of transportation.
With its outstanding reliability, reduced ecological footprint and strong safety record, the Seaway is ready to partner with Canadian and US industries and communities to help the global economy recover.
“The St. Lawrence Seaway has been a cornerstone of Canada’s economic success for more than 60 years, through the creation of thousands of middle-class jobs, and the generation of more than $9 billion in Canadian economic activity,” said Alghabra. “This valuable partnership and trade route will play a vital role in our efforts to building back better through strong economic recovery.”
“The Seaway’s consistently high level of system availability contributes to a robust, competitive Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway transportation route,” said Terence Bowles, president and chief executive officer of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. “We provide convenient access to an impressive number of industries, ports, highway and rail networks.”
Moving forward, the corporation will continue working with national and international carriers and shipping companies to maximize opportunities to diversify its cargo base and increase volumes, as well as reinforce its reputation as a leader in the North American transportation system.
“Commercial navigation on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System is an economic foundation of the U.S. and Canadian economies,” said Craig Middlebrook, deputy administrator of the U.S. Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. “A ship transiting the Seaway’s 15 locks from Montreal to Lake Erie crosses the international border 27 times, and the U.S. Department of Transportation and Transport Canada work closely together to ensure that this transit experience is as safe and seamless as possible.”
Some 38 million tonnes of cargo transited the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2020, which closely matched last year’s results. The stringent protocols put in place by the Seaway and by carriers early in the pandemic resulted in no interruption in service due to COVID-19. The protocols will remain in place until the pandemic is contained.
It is expected that there will be an uptick in global economic growth in 2021. On the heels of last year’s record harvests, grain shipments are expected to be strong early in the season. Iron ore and steel will be shipped via the Seaway to factories in Canada and abroad, and massive wind farm equipment will continue to be transported via the Seaway.
More and more industries are turning to maritime transport because of its reliability, and its smaller carbon footprint makes it the greenest, most forward‑looking transportation option.
The introduction of hands‑free mooring systems and the remote operation of locks are examples of the Seaway’s technological innovations aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the waterway. “As a major partner in the maritime industry, the corporation is always seeking ways to innovate and reduce the environmental impact of maritime transport, to offer improved client experience and to broaden its competitive advantage,” said Bowles. “For example, the automatic identification system that tracks ships via satellite and makes it possible to manage operations remotely; the draft information system, which allows ships to carry up to 400 additional tonnes per trip; and the hands‑free mooring system.”
Annually, substantial economic value is provided to the communities where the Seaway offices and structures are located through direct employment, as well as the many construction projects that employ local contractors. The Seaway also benefits individuals, businesses and municipalities, providing recreational opportunities, supplying water and hydroelectricity and helping to manage flood risk.
– St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.