The 73rd Annual Marine Club dinner, which took place January 20, 2012, in Toronto,  was presided over by Marine Club President Ken Burns. The more than 1,000 guests attending the dinner this year were treated to Algoma Central Corporation’s Top 10 Reasons for Investing in Great Lakes-Seaway Shipping, as presented by this year’s keynote speaker Greg Wight, President and CEO of Algoma Central Corporation.  In the spirit of the famous host from the Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, here are Algoma’s “Top 10”.

NUMBER 10 – Timing is everything

Boards of directors will react positively when investment opportunities are presented for the right reasons, at the right time. External factors, such as a strong U.S. dollar and world shipbuilding prices at all-time highs, were becoming less of an issue through 2010. When the federal government removed the 25-per-cent duty on foreign-built vessels in October 2010, all the pieces fell into place for Algoma, their then-partner, the Canadian Wheat Board, and competitor Canada Steamship Lines to place orders for a total of 12 new vessels for domestic dry-bulk trade.

NUMBER  9– You’ve got to spend money to save money

The new Equinox class of vessels will be 45 per cent more fuel-efficient per cargo tonne-kilometre than existing vessels in the Algoma fleet. Combined with technological improvements and lower manning requirements, reduced long-term repairs and maintenance, this translates into substantial savings on the annual fuel bill.

NUMBER 8 – You’ve got to spend money to make money

Algoma’s acquisition of the Upper Lakes Group and the resulting consolidation of their domestic dry-bulk and product tanker operations has resulted in revenue growth and overhead synergies.

NUMBER 7 – We have an environmental responsibility

Sustainability is one of the key tenets of Algoma’s corporate strategy. Algoma is one of the founding partners of Green Marine, an industry-led program designed to encourage continuous improvement in environmental performance and reduce the impact of water transportation on the environment.  The Equinox vessels will move Algoma’s environmental performance to a new level.

NUMBER 6 – We had the opportunity to improve safety performance

The safety enhancements in the Equinox class vessels are significant, ranging from a redesigned bridge layout, the location of mooring winches for improved operational control, a fully enclosed free-fall lifeboat system and cargo holds designed to minimize hang-ups and facilitate cleanup.

NUMBER 5  – A modernized fleet provides a recruitment tool

The marine industry has serious recruitment challenges ahead; over 50 per cent of the employees on the Canadian Fleet will be at retirement age within the next 10 years. The industry needs to attract and retain the next generation of sailors for the fleets. The Equinox class vessels will be a great recruiting tool to build upon numerous other benefits offered by the Great Lakes fleets.

NUMBER 4 – It makes us look good

The public, employees of the Great Lakes fleets, and customers have high expectations of Algoma and the industry. Expectations in the areas of environmental and social responsibilities are increasing every year. The industry needs to do a better job of telling its story, and one new initiative, Marine Delivers, a bi-national industry collaboration created to demonstrate the benefits of shipping on the Great Lakes-Seaway system, will be communicating with industry and government to ensure the good news stories get out.

NUMBER 3 – We need to be taken seriously

Great Lakes-Seaway shipping has many challenges. Inconsistent and uncertain air emissions and ballast water treatment regulations top the list. The industry is working with Canadian and U.S. government agencies to ensure the final regulations are both uniform and achievable. The Canadian government is challenging incoming ballast water regulations set by the State of New York, which are unrealistic and unachievable.

NUMBER 2 – Investment attracts investment

The shipping industry collaborated recently to produce an Economic Impact Study, which gives a comprehensive picture of the economic benefits of the entire bi-national Great Lakes-Seaway system.  Marine commerce on the Great Lakes-Seaway system creates 227,000 jobs in Canada and the U.S. and generates $35 billion in economic activity.

NUMBER 1 – We believe in the future of Great Lakes–Seaway shipping

There is a strong and stable customer base within the region. The Great Lakes-Seaway system saves companies $3.6 billion annually in transportation costs compared to land-based alternatives. Our government had the vision to appreciate the long term benefits of duty removal, and is prepared to battle unachievable ballast water regulations proposed by other jurisdictions. The government is providing financial support to the Seaway for much needed infrastructure renewal.

The positive stakeholder collaboration on many significant initiatives such as duty removal. Green Marine, ballast water regulations and Marine Delivers are signs of the strength of the marine industry.

An important part of the annual dinner is the presentation of awards and bursaries. On the recommendation of the Navy League of Canada, Ontario Division, the Board of Directors of the Marine Club presented the Marine Club Gold Medal to Central Region Sea Cadet of the year 2011 to CPO1 Terence Francois RCSCC Ojibwa, Etobicoke, Ontario.

Marine Club bursaries were presented to Marine Navigation Cadets Mark Bonneville (co-op employer: Prestige Cruise Lines), Jason Berry (co-op employer: Vanguard Shipping), Jason Davenport and Steven Sansford, and Marine Engineering Cadets Ryan Cleveland (co-op employer:  V.Ships (CSL), Nathaniel Wheeler (co-op employer: Algoma Central Marine), and  Andrew Grimes.

The Naval Officer’s Association of Canada Award was presented to Bill Chapman(Guillaume), a 3rd-year Navigation Cadet at Georgian College (co-op employer: Algoma Central Marine).

The Marine Club’s Good Works Program for 2011-2012 raised $44,517.