The Great Lakes Group


U.S. Ports Gear Up for 2016 Shipping Season

The St. Lawrence Seaway opened two weeks earlier this shipping season and U.S. ports took advantage of the warm weather to move cargo for their customers.

Betty Sutton, Administrator of the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation said, “During the first nine weeks of the 2016 navigation season, ships arrived from 30 countries and delivered high value cargo that supported a wide range of manufacturing. Our longshoremen worked diligently to offload cargo ships delivering transformers bound for electric power companies, tanks for beer brewing companies, windmills for power generation, dockside cranes for offloading ships, and kaolin for the manufacturing of paper. With the 58th navigation season well underway we are excited about the strong mix of cargoes that have moved through the U.S. Seaway locks.”

“The array of salties at our Clure Terminal this spring reflects the versatility and vitality of the Great Lakes-Seaway System,” said Vanta Coda, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “We’ve already handled heavy-lift oil and gas refinery equipment for a project in Montana; a load of kaolin clay from Brazil to supply Minnesota paper mills; and a shipment of 62-meter (203-foot) wind turbine blades for a wind energy project in Iowa. Two additional ships are en route with tower sections and nacelles and hubs for that same project. Making these vital connections to the heartland of North America is precisely why we market our services as Duluth Cargo Connect.”

“During the month of May the Port of Oswego received three shipments of aluminum totaling 9,079 metric tons, which was delivered to us on the Alouette Spirit and Evans Spirit,” said Zelko Kirincich, executive director and CEO of the Port. “The Evans Spirit is a shallow draft vessel with two cargo holds that have a pass-pass loading and discharge arrangement. This is the first time the Evans Spirit has been to the Port of Oswego with its new loading and discharge system. We have a year-to-date total of 19,507 metric tons of aluminum; which an increase of 86 percent over this time last year. In addition to the aluminum shipments we have received 8,802 metric tons of potash from Thunder Bay and 11,400 metric tons of corn from Hamilton. We are excited to have had a very busy start to the shipping season and are looking forward to an even busier year ahead with both inbound and outbound cargo.”

“May was a busy month at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor with 15 international ships,” said Port Director Rick Heimann. “Shipments included European beer fermentation tanks as well as organic corn and soybeans to be used for specialty animal feeds in U.S. farms. Since 2014, the port has handled over 80 beer tanks for craft breweries around the Midwest with most of those going to Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Chicago.”

“Steel has arrived at a steady pace for regional manufacturers, matching last year’s strong volumes” said Paul Vornholt, port director of the Port of Milwaukee. “The first part of the 2016 shipping season has also brought steady saltie traffic to the largest grain silos at the Port.”

“The Port of Cleveland is currently lagging slightly behind 2015 tonnage numbers at the start of our season for our traditional non-containerized steel business line,” stated David Gutheil, vice president maritime and logistics. “We are optimistic that our numbers will increase moving into the summer months and that the growth we have experienced since 2009 will continue. The Cleveland-Europe Express continues to attract new customers, as evidenced by our recent partnership announcement with Lubrizol for export container business to Europe. We also moved our first cargo to the country of Georgia, a 100-ton transformer from Siemens Energy in Mt. Vernon, OH. In order to keep with our growing demand for cargo, the Port and our terminal operators continue to invest in infrastructure and equipment. The Port commissioned two new Liebherr 280 mobile harbor cranes in May, which will significantly increase the speed and efficiency of our operation. Our new 21,000 square foot warehouse will be ready for use in late June, and will enable us to provide transloading services and additional storage capacity. We are also pleased that Federal Marine Terminals has ordered a 2016 Kobelco Hydraulic Crawler Crane with 275-ton capacity. The new crane is expected to arrive at the Port in September and will enhance their ability to handle large and complex project cargoes.”

The St. Lawrence Seaway reported that year-to-date cargo shipments for the period March 21 to May 31 were 6.5 million metric tons, down 4.15 percent over the same period in 2015. The dry bulk category was up nearly 5 percent with salt, potash and gypsum in the positive column at 25, 35, and 108 percent respectively. Iron ore was down 9 percent; coal was down almost 1 percent. While steel products were down 23 percent, other general cargo was up 113 percent.


The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership is a coalition of leading U.S. and Canadian maritime organizations working to enhance public understanding of the benefits of marine transportation. Learn more at