Ships ahoy! Great Lakes shipping season underway

Another Great Lakes shipping season is officially underway, with the opening of the Soo Locks this week.

Movement in the lower lakes had begun earlier, with Alpena receiving her first boat of the season March 10, when the Innovation arrived, after needing assistance from a tugboat because of the ice build-up at the time in Thunder Bay.

The first boat through the Soo Locks, which connects Lake Superior with the other Great Lakes, was the up-bound Stewart J. Cort, a 1,000-foot freighter. Over the course of this year’s shipping season, the Locks anticipate handling more than 4,500 vessels.

With the shipping season now underway, earlier this week, the U.S. Coast Guard was still out breaking ice in many locations.

A significant milestone for Great Lakes shipping occurs this summer, with the 60th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Maritime experts are projecting a busy year on the lakes.

Last year, most Great Lakes ports recorded their highest cargo totals in recent years, as water levels were considerably higher than in previous seasons.

“We are optimistic these trends will continue into the new season and off-season investments made by the St. Lawrence Seaway and local ports will make 2019 another great season for our members,” says Bruce Burrows, president of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

According to Burrows, initially, a lot of road salt is expected to be moved as road commissions replenish supplies following a hard winter for most Great Lakes communities.

With the Soo Locks now open, expect a lot more commercial traffic on the water.