The big boats are back.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit, MI, sent the below press release to celebrate the beginning of the 2016 shipping season. The Corps opened the Soo Locks on March 25th between Sault Ste Marie, MI and Sault Ste Marie, ON.
They mention that the first down-bound ship they received was the MV Edwin H. Gott, the first freighter Duluth Port Authority bid goodbye to this season.
According to the Detroit News, some 4000 commercial freighters travel through the Soo Locks each year, carrying everything from iron, ore, low-sulfur coal, to limestone between Lake Superior and the rest of the Great Lakes. This article from 2014 on michigan.org estimates the traffic at a higher 7000 freighters. (The article has plenty more fast facts on the Soo Locks, for shipping aficionados!)
The article quotes Duluth Port Authority likening the opening of Soo Locks to another giddy season opening: ““The opening of the Soo Locks is, for us, the opening day of baseball,” Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director, said in a news release. “It’s the excitement of a new season — the anticipation of seeing ships underway and commerce flowing in and out of the Duluth-Superior Harbor beneath the iconic Lift Bridge.”
The press release reads as follows:
For Immediate Release:
Soo Locks opens, 2016 shipping season gets underway
Contact: Jeff Hawk, 313-226-4680
DETROIT – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces the Soo Locks in
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., opened Friday, March 25, marking the beginning of the 2016 Great Lakes shipping season.
“The up bound Motor Vessel Roger Blough, an 858-foot freighter, was the first ship to enter the Poe Lock at 12:01 a.m.,” said Mark Aldrich, lockmaster. “It was followed by the down bound Motor Vessel Edwin H. Gott.”
“The Soo Locks are a vital component to the Great Lakes Navigation System,” said Lt. Col. Michael L. Sellers, district engineer. “I am proud of the entire District team in Sault Ste. Marie for successfully conducting another aggressive winter work program in order to ensure reliability of this critical link.”
The locks were closed on Jan. 15 and underwent critical repairs and maintenance during the winter shutdown. Crews had somewhat of a reprieve to the harsh conditions experienced over the past two winters and have performed extensive maintenance on several different items related to the Poe Lock’s Miter Gates. The work involved completion of the installation of a new hydraulic operating system and continued interim repairs to the embedded gate anchorages. Other major efforts included sandblasting, structural repairs and painting of MacArthur Lock dewatering bulkheads. The MacArthur Lock, located beside the Poe, will continue undergoing maintenance for several weeks.
The Detroit District operates and maintains the Soo Locks along with 91 harbors and connecting channels on lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and the portion of Lake Erie that borders the State of Michigan.
Acting Chief of Public Affairs
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers