CWB announced it has taken delivery of the first of its two Equinox class laker vessels, which is now in international waters sailing east across the Pacific Ocean from China to North America. CWB took delivery of the CWB Marquis on October 31, 2014, and it is expected to reach the Saint Lawrence Seaway via the Panama Canal and the Atlantic Ocean by the end of December.
CWB’s first Equinox class laker vessel is named after the historic “Marquis” wheat variety, the first wheat variety bred specifically for the short Canadian growing season. Its consistent high quality and yield set the stage for Canada to become a first-class wheat exporter.
“Marquis wheat has a long and distinguished history on the Prairies and we are proud to name CWB’s first laker vessel in honour of its legacy,” said CWB President and CEO Ian White. “Almost every variety of wheat grown on the Prairies since the beginning of the 20th century can be traced back to Marquis wheat.”
Equinox class vessels are the next generation of Great Lakes bulk carriers with the ability to carry more cargo, sail faster and consume less fuel than their predecessors. The ships are also more environmentally friendly with exhaust scrubbing systems designed to remove 97 per cent of sulphur oxide emissions generated by the vessel engines. The CWB Marquis is the third Equinox class vessel constructed at Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries shipyard in Jiangsu province, China. The first two – Algoma Equinox and Algoma Harvester – were delivered to Algoma Central Corporation.
The second CWB vessel is scheduled to be completed in early 2015 and both laker vessels will be managed and operated by Algoma Central Corporation within its vessel pool. The ships will be used extensively to carry grain eastward out of Thunder Bay, and iron ore on the return trip from seaports back into the Great Lakes. “Algoma is very excited about the partnership with CWB and is looking forward to managing the vessels and providing continued quality service to our customers,” said Algoma CEO Greg Wight.
“Our investment in state-of-the-art lakers complements CWB’s growing list of assets, and the ships will play a strategic role in an integrated grain handling supply chain,” said White. “All of our assets are key to ensuring our Farmer Equity Plan is an attractive reason for farmers to choose CWB as their marketing partner.”
CWB launched the Farmer Equity Plan in 2013, which provides farmers who deliver grain against CWB contracts the opportunity to receive an equity interest in the company after privatization.