April 12, 2018

Thursday, April 12, 2018, by Dave Strandberg

April 12, 2018  For Immediate Release                                        
Duluth, Minn. USA (April 12, 2018)—The first ‘saltie’ of the 2018 commercial navigation season, the Federal Weser, is on its way to the Port of Duluth-Superior and is expected to arrive tonight by 10 p.m. Its official arrival time will be recorded when the ship passes beneath Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge. 

The Federal Weser is expected to start loading Monday morning at the CHS terminal on the Superior side of the harbor – 21,400 metric tons of durum wheat bound for Algeria. If all goes according to plan, departure could be late Tuesday or Wednesday.   

Built in 2002, the 656-foot bulk carrier is named after a major river in western Germany and flies the flag of the Marshall Islands. Part of the Fednav fleet, the Federal Weser last visited the Twin Ports in 2015. On this year’s transit, it stopped along the way to deliver a load of steel in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

The Federal Weser has 22 crew members onboard and is under the command of Captain Umesh C. Sharma. The local vessel agent is Daniel’s Shipping Services. Stevedoring is being handled by Ceres Terminals, with tug assists provided by the Great Lakes Towing Company. It appears to be the first of a half-dozen salties that will be making their way to the Twin Ports via the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System during the next couple of weeks.

Boat watchers typically line the Duluth Ship Canal to take photos and greet the first saltie of the season, but time of day and weather conditions do play a factor in crowd size. An invitation-only First Ship Ceremony is being planned for Monday afternoon aboard the vessel for community leaders and representatives from the maritime industry to officially welcome the captain and crew. Invited guests include representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard, Mayor’s office, Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers, Duluth Seaway Port Authority and other civic leaders. Visit Duluth representatives also will be on hand to announce the winner of the 2018 First Ship Contest. Over 2,200 entries were received in this year’s contest, cosponsored by Visit Duluth and the Port Authority. (As noted, due to Homeland Security regulations, the ceremony is an invitation-only event.)

“Some of the world’s highest-quality grains move from farmers’ fields in Minnesota and North Dakota through the Port of Duluth-Superior to customers in countries across Europe, North Africa and points beyond,” said Kate Ferguson, director of business development for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “When it comes to shipping everything from agricultural products and iron ore to heavy equipment and project cargoes, the Port of Duluth-Superior literally links the heartland of North America to the world.”

The arrival of the first saltie always serves to remind residents and tourists alike that the Port of Duluth-Superior is an international seaport. Situated 2,342 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, this Port anchors the westernmost edge of the entire Great Lakes-Seaway System, which reopened for business just a couple of weeks ago. The Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., opened at 00:01 Sunday, March 25, with the American Century being the first upbound vessel to lock through. Four days later, the Seaway season got underway as the Algoma Niagara locked through the Welland Canal. Challenging ice conditions have slowed early-season transits in the eastern end of Lake Superior and through the St. Marys River, but Canadian and U.S. Coast Guard icebreakers have been working in tandem to establish tracks and assist vessels through those sections.

Historical Note: Latest arrival of this Port’s first saltie was the Diana on May 7, 2014, while the earliest on record was the Federal Hunter on March 30, 2013.

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