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  January 18th, 2018 | Written by

Seaway Wraps Up Navigation Season

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  • A blast of Arctic air delayed a handful of ships from transiting the locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
  • Iron ore shipments on the St. Lawrence Seaway saw a strong finish for the year.
  • The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System extends 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced yesterday that the 2017 navigation season concluded on January 11, 2018, with the transit of the Federal Biscay through the St. Lambert Lock in Montreal at 6:08 PM.

A sustained blast of Arctic air that extended from late December into January rapidly accelerated the formation of ice within the Seaway. Contending with difficult weather conditions in the final two weeks, a handful of ships were delayed by the presence of ice in several locks. Seaway employees on the ground worked diligently to maintain the locks, while staff in the control centers worked with the Canadian Coast Guard, marine pilotage authorities, and other members of the marine transportation support system.

Robust economic growth brought about strong gains in a number of cargo sectors, with Seaway tonnage rising by nine percent to over 38 million tons of cargo. Iron ore movements and shipments of stone, cement, and steel all moved along at a brisk pace.

“The final tonnage results reflect solid gains over 2016,” said Craig Middlebrook deputy administrator of the US Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, “particularly with respect to iron ore shipments and we were pleased to see the strong finish for the year.”

The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System is a marine highway that extends some 2,300 miles from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Approximately 160 million tonnes of cargo travels over the System on an annual basis, supporting over 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity.

The binational St. Lawrence Seaway serves as the linchpin within the broader waterway, connecting the lower St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes.  Beginning in Montreal and extending to points west, the Seaway’s 15 locks (13 Canadian and 2 U.S.) enable ships to climb a total of 550 feet from sea level up to Lake Erie.

The St. Lawrence Seaway System enables cargo to move both within North America, and also serves as an international gateway, supporting trade with more than 50 countries across the globe. Since its opening in 1959, over 2.9 billion tons of cargo valued at over $450 billion has moved through the seaway’s 15 locks.