The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) marked the opening of the Seaway’s 56th navigation season on March 28 with the transit of Algoma Central Corporation’s newly built ship, the Algoma Equinox, through Lock 3 of the Welland Canal. The vessel is the first of eight Equinox-class ships that are being purpose-built for trade in the St. Lawrence Seaway.
“Algoma Central Corporation’s fleet renewal is a leading example of the unprecedented level of investment that is happening throughout our navigation system,” said Terence Bowles, SLSMC’s President and CEO. “The Seaway alone is spending almost $500 million on modernizing its infrastructure – the biggest transformation in five decades.”
“The Algoma Equinox carries more cargo, sails faster, consumes significantly less fuel and is the first Great Lakes vessel to be equipped with a scrubbing system that virtually eliminates sulphur oxide from its emissions. These advancements will benefit communities throughout the region and also ensure that our customers – North American industries and farmers – remain competitive on the global stage,” said Algoma Central Corporation’s President and CEO Greg Wight.
In concert with various domestic and ocean carriers investing $1 billion in new vessels, SLSMC is investing $395 million between 2014 and 2018 to revitalize its locks and structures. Likewise, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) is mounting a $92 million effort over a comparable timeframe.
SLSDC Administrator Betty Sutton said, “The significant investments in Seaway infrastructure are positioning the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System for future growth. Our asset renewal program will do more than just rebuild the lock infrastructure; the introduction of new technologies will make the waterway even safer, more efficient, and more reliable. These investments signal a long term public commitment to shipping on the Great Lakes / Seaway System.”
In addition to its asset renewal program, SLSMC is also moving ahead with the installation of Hands Free Mooring at all of its high lift locks. This investment over the next five years will enable vessels to be secured in a lock by means of vacuum pads, instead of by the traditional wire or rope mooring lines. Hands Free Mooring is a core element of the SLSMC’s modernization program, which promises to lower operating costs, increase safety, and provide greater ease of access into the Seaway for Seaway-sized vessels within the world’s merchant fleet.