The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) concluded its 2017 navigation season on January 11, 2018, with the transit of Federal Biscay through the St. Lambert Lock.
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. Terence Bowles, President and CEO of the SLSMC, was quick to praise Seaway employees. “I am very proud of the professionalism, dedication and sheer grit that Seaway employees put forward to successfully wrap up the navigation season. In the face of weather conditions that swung from one extreme to the next, our teams overcame many challenges and all of the ships safely exited the waterway.”
Robust economic growth brought about strong gains in a number of cargo sectors, with Seaway tonnage rising by 9 per cent to 38.1 million tonnes of cargo. Shipments of iron ore were up 29 per cent to over 8 million tonnes, while shipments of dry bulk such as stone, cement and steel were up by 18 per cent to 10.5 million tonnes. At just over 10 million tonnes, grain shipments fell 10.6 per cent.
Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said, “The final tonnage results reflect solid gains over 2016, particularly with respect to iron ore shipments and we were pleased to see the strong finish for the year.”