The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, joined by the U.S. Saint Lawrence Development Corporation, marked the opening of its 59th navigation season with a special tribute to marine shipping’s substantial contribution to Canada’s economic development and quality of life. CSL St-Laurent, the first ship to transit the St. Lambert lock in 2017, featured a monumental work of art work commissioned by Montreal-headquartered Canada Steamship Lines, a division of the CSL Group, as a tribute to Canada’s 150th anniversary and the 375th of the City of Montreal.
Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport, and Jean D’Amour, Minister for Maritime Affairs for the Province of Québec, were among a number of dignitaries that shared their convictions as to the important role played by marine transportation in supporting Canada’s ascendance as a trading nation, and the City of Montreal’s rich history as a key trading hub.
“The St. Lawrence Seaway has a distinguished past, a dynamic and vital present and will continue to play a pivotal role in Canada’s economy in the future,” said Minister Garneau. “It is gratifying to see that the Seaway and its partners continue to modernize their operations, to make them more efficient as well as environmentally sustainable. On behalf of the Government of Canada, I wish you a safe and successful navigation season.”
CSL St-Laurent is sailing to Thunder Bay to pick up grain. Terence Bowles, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, noted that a strong carry over of grain from the 2016 harvest should help the waterway record an increase in cargo levels this season. Mr. Bowles remarked on the fundamental role that the St. Lawrence Seaway has played in facilitating trade between Canada and the United States, and with over 50 other countries across the globe. “Given the advances that we are making with our modernization program, I am confident that the Seaway is ready for the future. As a crucial linchpin connecting the heartland of North America to the world, we enable shippers to move goods safely and efficiently,” he said.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is making rapid progress with its asset renewal and modernization program, which centers on the implementation of the world’s first Hands-Free Mooring system for deep-water locks. Initiated in Canada and slated to conclude in 2018, this award winning program is key to building upon the Seaway’s strong record for system reliability established over the last 20 years.
Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Craig H. Middlebrook, said: “The ability of the Seaway to accommodate and encourage increases in maritime cargo rests first and foremost on its ability to move ships safely and reliably. By that standard, the Seaway’s record is remarkable as evidenced by a sharp reduction in vessel incidents over the last 20 years. Last year was one of the safest navigation seasons on record. Combined with a lock availability rate of nearly 100 percent over the last 10 years, the safety, reliability, and performance record of the Seaway System is second to none and gives our customers the confidence to know that we can meet their transportation needs.”
The multi-billion dollar fleet renewal program undertaken by Canadian shipowners underlines the industry’s strong degree of confidence in the future of the Seaway, and the opportunities for marine transportation to play a key role as an enabler of sustainable economic development and trade.
CSL Group President and CEO Louis Martel said: “For over 150 years, Canada Steamship Lines ships have proudly plied the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System to help build our cities and our country. We chose CSL St-Laurent to host our tribute to Montreal and Canada because her name honours the St. Lawrence River, and her state-of-the-art technology and seamanship represent the new generation of high-performing, environmentally-responsible cargo vessels. CSL’s fleet renewal investment represents gains in shipping efficiencies, customer excellence, environmental sustainability, and hundreds of high-paying sailing jobs.”
The mural entitled The Sea Keeper is an original work of art conceived by Montreal urban artist Bryan Beyung and created by Beyung with artists FONKi, Ankh One and Benny Wilding of the Ashop art collective. The mural depicts a Canada goose in flight, a common sight along the St. Lawrence River, and represents the vessel sailing in harmony with the environment. Painting an original work of art of this magnitude on a cargo vessel is a first for these artists, and is the first of its kind to be displayed on a Canadian commercial bulker.
The St. Lawrence Seaway is a “marine highway” that extends some 3,700 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Approximately 35 million tonnes of cargo are transported through the Seaway annually.