The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System is a deep draught waterway extending 3,700 km (2,340 miles) from the Atlantic Ocean to the head of the Great Lakes, in the heart of North America. The St. Lawrence Seaway portion of the System extends from Montreal to mid-Lake Erie. Ranked as one of the outstanding engineering feats of the twentieth century, the St. Lawrence Seaway includes 13 Canadian and 2 US locks. The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River have been major North American trade arteries since long before the US or Canada achieved nationhood. Today, this integrated navigation system serves miners, farmers, factory workers and commercial interests from the western prairies to the eastern seaboard.

Virtually every commodity imaginable moves on the Great Lakes Seaway System. Annual commerce on the System exceeds 200 million net tonnes (180 million metric tonnes), and there is still ample room for growth. Some commodities are dominant: v iron ore for the steel industry;

  • coal for power generation and steel production;
  • limestone for construction and steel industries;
  • grain for overseas markets;
  • general cargo, such as iron and steel products and heavy machinery; and
  • cement, salt and stone aggregates for agriculture and industry. 


The primary carrier vessels fall into three main groups: the resident Great Lakes bulk carriers or ‘lakers’; ocean ships or ‘salties’; and tug-propelled barges. US and Canadian lakers move cargo among Great Lakes ports, with both nations’ laws reserving domestic commerce to their own flag carriers. Salties flying the flags of other nations connect the Lakes with all parts of the world.

To realize the magnitude of this commerce, consider the impact of some typical cargoes:

  • one 1,000-foot-long Great Lakes vessel carries enough iron ore to operate a giant steel mill for more than four days;
  • a similar ‘super laker’ carries enough coal to power Greater Detroit for one day; and
  • a Seaway-size vessel moves enough wheat to make bread for every resident of NewYork City for nearly a month.


For every tonne of cargo, there are scores — often hundreds — of human faces behind the scenes. On board, there are the mariners themselves, while shore side there are lock operators and longshoremen, vessel agents and freight forwarders, ship chandlers and shipyard workers, stevedores and terminal operators, Coast Guard personnel and port officials, railroad workers and truck drivers — a wide web of service providers.

Opened to navigation in 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway part of the system has moved more than 2.5 billion metric tonnes of cargo in 50 years, with an estimated value of more than $375 billion. Almost 25 percent of this cargo travels to and from overseas ports, especially Europe, South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

From Great Lakes/Seaway ports, a multi-modal transportation network fans out across the continent. More than 40 provincial and interstate highways and nearly 30 rail lines link the 15 major ports of the system and 50 regional ports with consumers, products and industries all over North America.


As hubs of commerce, Great Lakes ports are economic drivers in their communities.

Commercial shipping serves more than 100 individual ports in the eight Great Lakes states and the provinces of Ontario and Quebec. These ports range in size and configuration. The most simple ports feature a single dock where ships tie-up to load or unload cargo for a single facility. Other ports are complex with multiple docks serving a variety of industries. In each case, a port serves as an interface between land-based modes of transportation (highway and rail) and waterborne transportation.

Private ports

Throughout the Great Lakes-Seaway region, many ports have been constructed and are owned by a single company. At these locations, the facility serves the host industry and no others. For example, large mining companies, power plants, and steel mills have constructed their own port facilities.

Public ports

At larger ports it is typical that local government has established a public port agency to manage and develop port facilities with the goal of stimulating marine-related economic development and trade. These public port authorities do not exist to serve a single industry, but rather, to facilitate commerce on behalf of businesses throughout the community.

In the Great Lakes-Seaway region, public port agencies are governed according to several models. Some are divisions of municipal government, others are a division of county government, yet others are a division of state or provincial government. On the US side of the Great Lakes, most port agencies were created by state statute and are governed by a

board appointed by local and state officials. In Canada, smaller ports are under local government control, while larger ports are designated ‘Canada Port Authorities’ by the federal government. These federally designated port agencies are governed by a seven person board, appointed by local and federal officials.

Public/private ports

Most major Great Lakes-Seaway ports typically feature of a mix of publicly controlled and privately controlled facilities.


More than 25 companies operate commercial vessels in the Great Lakes-Seaway System. The largest Great Lakes freighters are massive and can carry more than 70,000 tonnes of cargo in a single voyage. Stood on end, these ships would be as tall as a 100-storey building. Ships offer the most efficient means of transporting large quantities of cargo. For example, the largest Great Lakes vessels can transport the same amount of cargo as 700 rail cars or 2,800 trucks.


Lake Vessels

Most Great Lakes-Seaway commercial cargo ships are specially designed and constructed for use in the system. Known as ‘lakers’, these vessels carry bulk cargo and have a unique configuration that enable them to fit through the navigation locks and operate under the weather and fresh-water hydrologic conditions in the Great Lakes.

Ocean-going vessels
The waterway is also served by ocean-going vessels designed to operate not only in the Great Lakes, but also in the harsh conditions of the world’s salt-water oceans. For this reason, these vessels are known as ‘salties’. Most salties are multipurpose in their design, able to carry bulk cargo, breakbulk cargo and project cargo.

Vessel flag

The Great Lakes-Seaway system is served by three distinct vessel operator communities:

  • US-flag operators are those companies whose vessels are documented under the laws of the United States. Generally these carriers operate between US ports within the Great Lakes.
  • Canadian-flag operators are those companies whose vessels are documented under Canadian law. These carriers generally operate between lower St. Lawrence River ports and Great Lakes ports, carrying both domestic and bi-national commerce.
  • Foreign-flag operators are those carriers whose vessels are documented under the laws of a country other than the United States or Canada. These vessels operate between system ports and overseas destinations.



While all types of cargo are transported on the Great Lakes- Seaway system, bulk cargo dominates commercial shipping in the region. Transportation of these cargoes serve the region’s farmers and manufacturers. Other cargoes include breakbulk, containerized and project cargo.


  • Bulk cargo includes products that are loose and unpackaged, such as grain, sand, or coal.These cargoes are typically loaded and unloaded via conveyer systems. 
  • Containerized cargo includes products transported in standardized steel boxes. Because these containers can be easily interchanged between ship, rail, and truck, they offer a flexible and efficient means of goods movement.
  • Breakbulk cargo includes products that are not able to be containerized, but are also not loose. Such cargo may be in bags, drums or bales, or bundled and strapped such as lumber or steel.
  • Project cargo includes products that are unusually heavy, oversized or of an awkward shape and would have difficulty moving by rail or highway. Such cargo includes wind turbine components, large machinery and industrial equipment.


Primary Great Lakes/Seaway cargoes include:


  • Iron ore: the primary ingredient in steel making, iron ore is mined in northern Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and in eastern Quebec. From the mine, ore is transported by rail to nearby ports and shipped to steel mills in Northwest Indiana, Detroit, Cleveland, and Hamilton.
  • Coal: a key fuel for power generation, coal is mined in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming and Montana. From these mines, it is railed to Superior,Wisconsin and Chicago, Illinois, where it is transferred to ship for final delivery to shore-side electric generating facilities throughout the Great Lakes region. Similarly, coal from Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia is railed to Lake Erie ports for delivery by ship.
  • Limestone: used in steel production, cement production, and road construction, limestone is one of the top commercial cargoes moved on the Great Lakes-Seaway system. Michigan is the dominant producer of limestone aggregate which is transported by vessel to ports throughout the region.
  • Farm products: – grown by farmers throughout the upper Midwest, wheat, sorghum, corn and soybeans are key cargoes being exported in bulk from Great Lakes-Seaway ports. Major grain export facilities are located in the ports of Thunder Bay, Ontario; Duluth, Minnesota; Superior,Wisconsin; Toledo, Ohio; and Hamilton, Ontario.
  • Steel: semi-finished steel products such as slabs, plates, bars, and coils are imported into the Great Lakes-Seaway system typically from Europe or South America. Local steel processing companies take delivery of these cargoes and perform additional value-added processing such as rolling, stamping, or pickling. Finished steel products are used in construction, automobiles, machinery, and appliances.
  • Project cargo: unique shipments by vessel of unusually heavy, large or awkwardly shaped products. For example, industrial equipment for mining, refining or steel making are often transported by ship when highway and rail transport are disruptive to communities, or simply not viable. Typical project cargo moved on the Great Lakes/Seaway system would include large turbine blades for wind energy projects, giant steel pressure vessels for oil refining, and railroad locomotives for export.  


Lake Carriers’ Association sees major progress on top issues 

Prospects for ending the dredging crisis and resolving other pressing issues on the Great Lakes are the best in 12 years according to Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), the trade association representing US-flag vessel operators on the inland seas, in its State of the Lakes report issued at the end of June. Only uniform, Federal regulation of ballast water remains elusive, particularly since Canada has yet to issue its ballast water regulations.

The greatest progress has been made on the dredging crisis. Just a few years ago more than 18 million cubic yards of sediment clogged ports and waterways and the backlog was projected to grow. Now, the backlog is down to approximately 17 million cubic yards and shrinking.

LCA credits passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act (WRRDA) of 2014 for turning the tide. The legislation designated the Lakes a system in terms of dredging and directed that expenditures from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund be incrementally increased until they reach 100% of receipts (in 2025). “Treating the Lakes as a system rather than pitting the 60 Federally maintained deep draught ports against one another for dredging dollars and increased funding should allow the US Army Corps of Engineers to reduce the dredging backlog every year going forward,” declares LCA.

However, the report stresses that the rise in Great Lakes water levels has not restored full loads. The largest single iron ore cargo carried in 2014 totalled 69,859 tonnes. “The record for the Head-of-the-Lakes trade (Lake Superior to lower Lakes ports) is 72,300 tonnes, so even the best load of 2014 was still 2,400 tonnes short of the trade’s benchmark.”

The report repeats LCA’s call for more icebreaking resources on the Great Lakes. “The launch of the new MACKINAW in 2006 ensured we maintained the status quo in terms of a heavy icebreaker, but the following nine years have put a lot of wear- and-tear on the other icebreakers that have been in service since the late 1970s and early 1980s. Simply put, despite the best efforts of their outstanding crews, the US Coast Guard’s icebreaking assets are now overmatched when nature sends us winters as challenging as the past two.”

Thanks to Great Lakes legislators, Congress has got the message. The Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2014 passed by the House of Representatives includes provision authored by Congresswoman Candice Miller (R-MI) that authorizes the Commandant to design and build a new icebreaker for its Great Lakes Fleet. The Senate FY16 Homeland Security Appropriations bill directs the Coast Guard to conduct a Great Lakes mission analysis within 180 days after its enactment to determine whether another MACKINAW-class icebreaker is required.

LCA then urges the Coast Guard to move quickly once the legislation has been enacted. “The new icebreaker will probably take two years or more to build. Time is of the essence.”

Another project that is time-critical is a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Eight out of every 10 tonnes of cargo moving through the Soo Locks transit the Poe Lock, and that chamber is now nearly 50 years old. The project remains stalled by a flawed benefit/cost ratio that mistakenly assumes the railroads could move the cargo if the Poe Lock went down for a lengthy period of time. Thanks to Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI), the Corps is re-evaluating the cost:benefit ratio and prospects for twinning the Poe Lock are the best they have been in years.

The report cautions that lack of a Federal standard on ballast water that pre-empts state regulations and the threat of Canada imposing a transit standard when its ballast water regulations are implemented following ratification of the International Maritime Organization’s ballast water convention ‘casts a pall’ over all the positive news. State regulation of ballast water has created a patchwork of differing requirements.

Most troubling are the yet-to-be-released Canadian ballast water regulations. There is no treatment system that can work on lakers, so a transit standard, which has been endorsed by some in Canada as an option, would ban US-flag lakers from Canadian waters. The problem is US-flag lakers must transit Canadian waters, not only when loading or discharging in Canada, but when trading between US ports. If Canada imposes a transit standard, the US-flag Lakes fleet could be put out of business.

“The State regulation problem could be solved if the Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) was enacted. S. 373 sets a uniform and achievable Federal standard. States can suggest more stringent requirements, but they must prove the need and that systems exist that can meet the requirements. The bill also recognizes that vessels that operate within a limited geographic area, such as lakers, do not have the potential to introduce aquatic nuisance species, so requires best management practices rather than treatment.”

The VIDA is still moving through the Senate, both as a stand- alone bill and in the Senate Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2015. The House does not have companion bill right now, but has passed similar legislation in the past.

The ballast water issue notwithstanding, the report concludes that “Great Lakes shipping is on the verge of solving some of its most pressing problems. Challenges will remain, and new ones will appear, but the State of the Lakes in 2015 is
proof positive that our efforts, some of which have required years and years of engagement, are paying off, and the future is brighter because of that.”

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 16 American companies that operate 56 US-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as salt, sand and grain. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tonnes of cargo per year.  
The Interlake Steamship Company gears up for final phase of $100 million fleet upgrade and modernization plan  

The Interlake Steamship Company announced in early June that it will repower its last steamship — the Herbert C. Jackson — with a highly automated diesel propulsion system in the final phase of a ten-year, $100 million modernization effort to create the most efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly fleet on the Great Lakes.

The six-month diesel conversion, which is slated to begin in mid-December, is the fifth major overhaul to Interlake’s fleet and its fourth steam-to-diesel conversion since 2006.

“This repowering illustrates Interlake’s continuing commitment to shrink its environmental footprint by reducing emissions throughout our fleet,” says
Interlake President Mark W. Barker. “We have a long-term vision for our industry and we are investing in our equipment and our ships to offer the most reliable, efficient delivery within an industry that is the greenest form of transportation available.”

Since 2007, Interlake has reduced its emissions dramatically. For example, through 2014, the company estimates it has lowered its particulate matter by 30%, sulphur oxides by 54% and carbon dioxide by 47%. In April 2015, Interlake debuted the installation of exhaust gas scrubbers on the bulk carrier Hon. James L. Oberstar, becoming the first US-flag fleet to test the emission reduction technology on the Great Lakes.

Built in 1959, the Jackson’s vintage steam turbines and automation would require costly upgrades for the ship to remain a reliable workhorse in the fleet.

“It’s a sad day leaving the era of steamships behind but it’s a good day as we move forward,” says Barker about the last steamship being repowered. “We only have nine months a year to carry close to 20 million tonnes of cargo for our customers. It’s critical for us to be able to do that without any delays. To meet that goal, we have to invest and keep our ships outfitted with the best equipment in the industry.”  

The company is in discussions with potential shipyards to do the repowering work. The 6,250-BHP propulsion package will include a pair of MaK – six-cylinder M32E engines which will give the ship enhanced propulsion capabilities and reliability. In addition, the repowered Jackson will receive a twin-input, single- output Lufkin gear box with twin PTO shaft generators, a Schottel controllable-pitch propeller system and Gesab exhaust gas economizers along with an auxiliary boiler. The economizers allow the ship to harness the waste heat and energy from the main engine exhaust and produce ‘free steam’ to heat the accommodations and for heating various auxiliary systems and fuel oil services. These installations will net the company even greater emission reductions.

“The Engineering Team at Interlake is excited to be working with the professionals at Toromont Cat, a division of Toromont Industries Ltd., on another project,” says Phil Moore, Fleet Superintendent at Interlake. “The Toromont group provided engineering services, the MaK equipment and auxiliary propulsion systems on the successful diesel engine replacement of the Paul R.Tregurtha. Toromont made it an easy choice to work with them again on the Herbert C. Jackson repowering.”

The Lee A.Tregurtha was the first ship to be repowered with a highly automated Bergen diesel engine power plant in 2006. Similar engines were installed in the Hon. James L. Oberstar (then the Charles M. Beeghly) in 2009. In 2010, the Paul R.Tregurtha, Interlake’s largest freighter at 1,013- feet long, underwent a diesel engine replacement using MAK engines. The Kaye E. Barker was the last steamer to be repowered with Bergen diesels in 2012. The design and engineering of the power plants have been led by Ian Sharp, Director of Engineering for Fleet Projects. Sharp is currently completing the design of the Herbert C. Jackson’s new propulsion plant. Headquartered in Middleburg Heights, Ohio, the Interlake Steamship Company was launched in 1913. For more than a century, the company has led the Great Lakes shipping industry through its commitment to flawless service, environmental stewardship and continuous innovation. ISO 9002 certified, Interlake’s fleet of nine vessels deliver raw materials to ports throughout the Great Lakes region.  

Fednav breaks new ground: landmark year for Canadian shipowner  

Fednav has been associated with shipping in Canada for over 70 years and in the Great Lakes since the opening of the
St. Lawrence Seaway in 1959. Today, the Montreal-based company operates a fleet of about 85 bulk carriers, most of which are built to offer year-round service to the St. Lawrence, Saguenay River, the Hudson Bay, and even the Arctic. In fact, over a span of five decades, Fednav has made Arctic shipping a specialty. Three of Fednav’s vessels, custom-designed to service mines in Canada’s most remote regions, are ice-breaking bulk carriers capable of travelling unescorted year-round in the Arctic.

Fednav operates the largest fleet of Great Lakes-suitable, ocean-going bulk carriers that ship to and from the Great Lakes — its main niche market. In fact, the company is this year taking delivery from Oshima Shipyard of Japan six of a series of 16 box-hold oceangoing Handysize Lakers designed to transport steel or bulk to St. Lawrence River ports and into the Great Lakes and carry grains and other bulks outbound. These additions to the fleet demonstrate the company’s confidence in the future of shipping in the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes.

These new-generation 34,000dwt ice-class vessels represent a major step forward in terms of environmental benefits. With their advanced design and more efficient engines, they will produce 20% less emissions than vessels of the same dimension built by Oshima Shipyard 15 years ago and, therefore, contribute significantly to Fednav’s objectives of reducing GHG emissions in its fleet on a continuous basis. All of the vessels will receive the CLEAN DESIGN notation from the DNV classification society. Deliveries are scheduled to take place from 2015 to 2018.

The Great Lakes, in the heartland of North America, are also at the heart of Fednav’s environmental strategy. As a founding member of Green Marine, a voluntary, bi-national environmental programme, and with the recent order of 12 BallastAce water- treatment systems, Fednav demonstrates its commitment to stimulating trade and enhancing Canada’s economy, while preventing the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in the Great Lakes. For the St. Lawrence River,

Hudson Bay, and West Coast bulk trade, comprised mainly of imported alumina, sugar, fertilizer, and coal products, and exported grains, industrial minerals, wood pellets, the company employs a growing fleet of Supramax and Handymax vessels as well as its Handysize lakers, a fleet that remains among the newest, most energy-efficient, and best managed operating internationally.

Transportation of breakbulk from Europe, including steels and other general cargoes such as heavy and/or bulky industrial or agricultural equipment, yachts, beer vats, and windmills, is undertaken by a Fednav Atlantic Lakes Line, or FALLine. With roughly 60 sailing per year, FALLine is the premiere transatlantic breakbulk transportation service that has offered uninterrupted liner operations to shippers since the opening of the Seaway in 1959.

Shipping in the Great Lakes is also synonymous with Federal Marine Terminals (FMT), Fednav’s cargo-handling division, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Six of FMT’s twelve dry bulk and/or general cargo operations are in the Great Lakes at the ports of Burns Harbor, Cleveland, Hamilton, Milwaukee, Thorold, and Toronto. Together with Fednav Direct, the company’s logistics service, Fednav is able to offer a complete through service to its large international customer base. Conscious of the importance of giving back to the community — local and maritime — the company not only contributes actively to many associations and organizations and offer a number of fellowships, but has also given employees stewardship in funding community causes close to their hearts and homes. The most significant characteristic that sets Fednav apart is the company’s unwavering commitment to delivering a higher standard in everything it does. 


Fednav recently celebrated its 70th anniversary. Established in 1944, it is the largest dry bulk Shipowning and chartering group in Canada as well as the biggest ocean-going user of the Great Lakes/Seaway System and leader in the Canadian Arctic.

According to Mark Pathy, President and Co-CEO, “sticking to the fundamentals has been key to our continued success — a prudent approach, measured growth, and, more importantly—a focus on relationships with our customers and quality and reliability in our service and fleet.”


On 15 April this year, Fednav announced an order for 12 ballast water treatment systems (BallastAce) developed by JFE Engineering Corporation in Japan, to equip its vessels currently under construction.  

This places Fednav as the first shipping company in Canada and the Great Lakes to announce the installation of a ballast water treatment system, well before the regulatory requirement. This news thereby highlights the company’s commitment to stimulating trade and enhancing Canada’s economy while protecting the Great Lakes against the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species.

Late last summer, the Fednav’s Nunavik was one of the first commercial vessels to transit the Northwest Passage completely, and the first to do so unescorted with an Arctic cargo. The 31,700dwt icebreaking bulk carrier sailed from Deception Bay in Northern Quebec carrying a full cargo of nickel concentrate bound for the port of Bayuquan, Liaoning Province, China.

By favouring the Northwest Passage over the conventional Panama Canal route, the Nunavik saved roughly 5,000 nautical miles (9,400km) or 20 days of sailing and therefore, more than 1,300 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.

The vessel was supported by shore-based team of experienced Arctic operators and ice navigation specialists from its subsidiary, Enfotec. The vessel received regular ice charts including real-time satellite imagery in order to operate Enfotec’s proprietary onboard ice-navigation system, IcenavTM, further enabling safe and efficient transit. "Fednav is proud to have designed this remarkable ship and to have planned the first independent commercial voyage through the Northwest Passage,” said Paul Pathy, President and co-CEO of Fednav Limited. “It is through the extraordinary capabilities of the Fednavteam,theship’screw,andits world-leadingtechnology that we can undertake this journey with confidence.”


Fifty years ago this past March, Fednav opened its first foreign

office in Hamburg, Germany. When it was founded, Fednav Hamburg acted as both an extension of the company’s chartering team and for many years, as a liner agent for the company’s regularly scheduled Transatlantic general cargo service. Today, this office plays a key role representing Fednav in Europe, including in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.


Incorporated in 1965 in Chicago, Federal Marine Terminals, Inc. (FMT) celebrated its 50th anniversary on 23 April. FMT today has operations in 12 ports along the US East Coast, in the Gulf of Mexico, and on the Great Lakes. Leveraging its experience in stevedoring, terminal handling, and logistics services for all types of dry cargo, FMT offers a seamless supply chain in the markets it serves.


In 2015, Fednav was, for the fourth consecutive year, recognized by The Gazette as one of Montreal’s Top Employers and by The Globe and Mail as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People for the second year running, acknowledgements that illustrate the company’s commitment to the employment and development of its employees.


At the end of October 2014, the Federal Tyne earned a perfect RightShip rating on all three vetting parameters: a five-star risk rating, a five-star environmental rating, and a greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions rating of A+. Out of about 18,000 bulk carriers currently in service, only 26 vessels have a five-star rating on both the risk and environmental side — and six of those vessels are owned by Fednav. The Federal Tyne distinguishes itself by having a perfect GHG emissions score of A+, and is one of only two bulk carriers that hold this distinction in the world.  
UWL simplifies oversize moves from the Port of Cleveland  


Recently, RAD-CON (B.C.O.) engaged the services of global 3PL and licensed NVOCC & freight forwarding company UWL. RAD-CON was in need of a solution to complete an oversized move. This particular move posed the potential to be complicated and costly due to the extremely heavy weight and large size of the product being transported. UWL was able to streamline this process and complete the process — from quote to load — in 12 days. Cargo was transported successfully from Cleveland to Antwerp, where it will make its way to its final destination in Turkey.

In working with UWL, RAD-CON felt confident knowing that they had the strength of an asset-based forwarder on their side throughout the project. Advantages such as 650 trucks, 55 offices worldwide, 15 container depots and 20 warehouses/distribution centres throughout the United States. Most of all, they were able to take advantage of the relationships that UWL could bring to bear on the St. Lawrence Seaway & Port of Cleveland — opening up transatlantic routes without the need for fighting the congestion on either coast. UWL effectively opens up efficient service routes to Europe and beyond.

Customers depend on UWL to anticipate challenges and find solutions to complex supply chain needs. The difference that UWL’s
world-class team brings to the customer is a dedication to innovation, client-centred service and a world-class, team approach. By leveraging 50+ years of industry experience on the part of parent company World Shipping, Inc. (WSI), UWL has helped clients to realize success in the
Great Lakes as well as markets around the globe. Areas of expertise 
include: Custom House brokerage, ocean freight, air freight, chemical logistics, project cargo logistics, warehousing, transload and distribution, road and rail, bulk liquid logistics and customs compliance consulting.  

Great Lakes Towing Company expands fleet with four new tugs

The Great Lakes Towing Company, which operates the largest fleet of shipdocking tugboats on the US Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence Seaway, has announced the addition of four more tugboats to its fleet.

The four newly purchased tugs will be named after four of the Great Lakes;Tug MICHIGAN, Tug HURON,Tug ONTARIO and Tug ERIE. The company’s Tug SUPERIOR has been in service for years, operating in the Port of Detroit.

“These four tugs will be immediately added to the fleet, and provide some new life and operational stability to our day-to-day business,” says Gregg Thauvette,Vice President – Operations,The Great Lakes Towing Company. Thauvette continues, “The equipment and machinery onboard, including the towing gear and firefighting equipment, are ideal for our operations across the Great Lakes, and will help us to continue to provide harbour towing services to our customers in more than 35 US ports, in all eight US Great Lakes’ states.”


In addition to the four newly purchased tugs, Great Lakes Shipyard is in the process of reactivating the Tugs LOUISIANA and PENNSYLVANIA from its existing fleet, both of which have been out of service for several years. Once completed and back in service, the company plans to also reactivate the Tugs IDAHO and CALIFORNIA, which were taken out of service over the last two seasons. The company is also in the process of drydocking, refurbishment and major maintenance on 15 tugs from fleet as part of the company’s ongoing Major Fleet Overhaul Program. The schedule for this program includes:  

"As The Towing Company continues to maintain and upgrade the tugs in its fleet, the Shipyard will also continue to expand and grow,” says Joe Starck, President of the Towing Company and Great Lakes Shipyard. Starck further explains that,“We are currently in progress of building one of two new tugboats for New York Power Authority (NYPA) Niagara Power Plant’s operations in Buffalo, NY and we are also building two small work barges for the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Rock Island District. We also have many other very interesting new construction projects on the table. This new vessel construction business is in addition to our ongoing regular, in-house, commercial and government repair and modification work, where we regularly perform routine drydocking, maintenance, emergency repairs and custom fabrication services.”


The Great Lakes Towing Company (or the ‘Towing Company’) owns and operates the largest fleet of shipdocking tugboats on the US Great Lakes-Saint Lawrence River Seaway.

GLT is the principle provider of commercial tugboat services in more than 35 US ports, in all eight US Great Lakes’ states and the St. Lawrence River, and maintains nearly 99% market share of the harbour towing business in US Great Lakes ports. No other towing company in the US matches this range of service. Services include harbour towing, docking and undocking assistance, ice breaking, rescue and assistance to grounded or damaged ships, and interport towing of vessels and barges.  

Port of Thunder Bay off to strong start  

Grain shipments through the Port of Thunder Bay are off to their strongest start since 1997. As of 31 May, more than 1.8mt (million metric tonnes) of grain have been loaded at the port’s elevators. The 31 May five-year average for grain is 1.4mt.

Grain, the port’s mainstay cargo, continues to surge following dramatic volume increases last year. In 2014, the port recorded its highest cargo volumes in 16 years due to the swell in shipments of Western Canadian grain. There is no sign of slowing down as prairie farmers experienced their second-highest grain production in history in 2014, following the record production set in 2013.

The Port of Thunder Bay handled nearly 1.3mt of cargo during May — 37% more than the five-year average for the month. A wide variety of cargoes passed through the port during May including coal, potash, liquid petroleum, wood pellets, road salt, windmill components and steel. Potash shipments were particularly strong. At 72,000 metric tonnes, potash volumes were 50% higher than the five-year average for the month. 

Top Hat Ceremony for first ocean-going vessel  

The Cyprus-registered vessel Tundra became the first ocean- going ‘saltie’ vessel to enter the Port of Thunder Bay during the 2015 navigation season, berthing at Richardson’s Main elevator on the morning of 17 April. The vessel loaded 15,100 metric tonnes of Western Canadian Wheat destined for San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Tundra is owned and operated by Montreal-based ship company Canfornav. Canfornav is one of the largest ocean-going

carriers calling the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway on a regular basis, transporting cargoes to and from worldwide destinations. The agent for the vessel is Lake Superior Shipping Ltd., ocean ship agents in Thunder Bay since 1959.

Tundra Captain Volodymyr Ovdiyenko and Chief Engineer Igor Galkin was welcomed to the Port in an on-board ‘Top-Hat’ ceremony.  

New CWB vessel loads first grain shipment in Thunder Bay 

On 13 April, the Port of Thunder Bay welcomed a new Canadian Laker built specifically for transporting grain from Thunder Bay to the St. Lawrence River. CWB Marquis arrived in port the previous evening and took on its first ever load of grain on 13 April at Mission Terminal.

CWB Marquis is the first vessel to be owned by CWB, formerly known as the Canadian Wheat Board. The vessel is named after the historic ‘Marquis’ wheat variety, the first wheat variety bred specifically for the short Canadian growing season. "Marquis wheat has a long and distinguished history on
the Prairies and we are proud to name CWB's first laker vessel in honour of its legacy," said CWB president and CEO Ian White. "Almost every variety of wheat grown on the Prairies since the beginning of the 20th century can be traced back to Marquis wheat."

The ship is the third Equinox-class vessel to enter service on the Seaway, joining Algoma Central Corporation’s Algoma Equinox and Algoma Harvester. Algoma Central Corporation will operate and manage CWB Marquis, along with a second CWB fleet-mate to be delivered later in 2015.  

Equinox class vessels are touted as the next generation of Great Lakes bulk carriers with the ability to carry more cargo, sail faster and consume less fuel than their predecessors.The ships are also more environmentally friendly with exhaust scrubbing systems designed to remove 97% of sulphur oxide emissions generated by the vessel engines.

Winnipeg-based CWB is an experienced wheat and barley marketer, having sold grain to over 70 countries. Since the elimination of its monopoly on wheat and barley grown in Western Canada in 2012, the organization has been transitioning toward a private operating model that includes a network of strategic grain-handling assets and farmer ownership. CWB has initiated a series of elevator construction projects and acquisitions across the prairies and in port, including the acquisition of Mission Terminal in the Port of Thunder Bay last year.

April’s load of 30,000 metric tonnes of wheat and durum, destined for Trois Rivie`res and then to Cuba, will be the first of many. CWB Marquis will be used extensively to carry grain eastward out of Thunder Bay, and iron ore on the return trip from seaports back into other Great Lakes ports.  

Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority celebrates 60th anniversary 

Transportation has always played a vital role in the development of the Toledo Region and has a significant annual impact on the region’s economy. In 1833,
when Toledo was founded through the merger of the villages of Port Lawrence and Vistula (both villages were already active ports
on the Maumee River at the western end of Lake Erie),Toledo quickly became one 
of the great transshipping ports on the Great Lakes handling grain, flour, butter, pork and lumber. The first railroad in Ohio, the Erie & Kalamazoo, began service from Toledo in 1836. Additional growth was fostered by the construction of the canals, which linked the Maumee River with Central Indiana’s Wabash River and the Ohio River.

Toledo was a place where all modes of transportation came together to serve the region’s agricultural and manufacturing- based economy. Toledo’s rich history in shipbuilding began as early as 1828, starting with schooners and side-wheel 

steamboats and quickly evolving into constructing steel freighters. For the next 100 years the port continued to expand and in 1955 construction commenced on the St. Lawrence Seaway, a bi-national waterway connecting world markets to the Great Lakes Region. In June of that year, the Ohio Port Authority Act was adopted and Toledo became the first port authority in the state of Ohio. Under the direction of the Port Authority, many accomplishments were achieved including establishing the eighth Foreign-Trade Zone in the nation in 1961 and becoming the largest coal port in the world handling over 30 million tonnes annually from 1963 to 1966.

Over the years, the Port Authority dramatically expanded its role in the Toledo Region, taking on the management of additional transportation assets including two airports, a passenger rail station and three downtown parking garages. At the same time, new services and programmes were offered by the Port Authority to promote economic development in the Toledo Region such as brownfield redevelopment, innovative financing, energy efficiency improvement, a community economic development grant programme, and a programme to offer assistance to minority and women-owned contractors. The combination of assets, programmes and services makes the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority one of the most diverse and sophisticated port authorities in the nation.

This August marks the 60th anniversary of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority.
While much has changed over the past 60 years, the Port Authority continues to hold the same fundamental vision as its founders
in 1955. Site development, job creation, port expansion and efficiency in moving people and goods through the region remain top priorities. Maritime activities at the Port of Toledo alone employ over 7,000 people and have an annual economic contribution of over $1 billion to the region.

The Port Authority is continuously investing in the modernization of port facilities. At the Toledo Shipyard, operated by Ironhead Marine, topside and dry dock work is routinely performed on freighters, ferry boats and other vessels. Ironhead’s modern high bay facility was constructed in 2008, along with many other recent improvements, which have allowed the company to provide excellent service to the maritime industry. In 2010, the Port Authority invested over $10 million in new cargo handling equipment at its general cargo facility operated by Midwest Terminals, which included the acquisition of two Liebherr mobile harbour cranes and a Mantsinen material handler. An additional $15 million was invested in a new entrance gate complex, new roadways and improved on-dock rail infrastructure at the facility.

Perhaps the most ambitious and significant development at the Port of Toledo in recent years was the opening of the new Ironville Terminal in March 2014. This 180-acre site, previously used as an oil refinery, was purchased in 2008 and was transformed into a fully operational marine terminal financed with public and private investments. The site is owned by the Port Authority, which has entered into a long-term agreement with Midwest Terminals to manage the port operation. The total project cost was $23 million and provided up to 100,000 man hours of skilled construction labour for the community. Development of the site included the installation of 20,000 linear feet of rail connecting the terminal to Norfolk Southern’s network, dredging and dock wall improvements, and the construction of a multimodal material transfer system and warehouse. The terminal handled over 277,000 tonnes of material in its inaugural season and is expected to play a key role in the development of new cargo handling opportunities by providing additional capacity and capability.

For 60 years, dedicated staff and board members have worked together with community and government leaders to make the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority the organization it is today. The Port Authority salutes the thousands of customers and stakeholders around the world who have utilized the Port of Toledo’s facilities and services, all of which helps move the Port Authority and its community forward. 


Duluth Seaway Port Authority names Director of Business Development 

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority has named Kathryn ‘Kate’ Ferguson as Director of Business Development, effective 13 July 2015. She will be the first point of contact with the Port Authority for companies pursuing domestic and international trade opportunities. Additionally, Ferguson will work to develop, attract and retain business for the Port Authority and its properties — co-ordinating business expansion prospects with industrial development organizations throughout the region.

Ferguson brings a decade of professional experience and academic credentials to this position, primarily in the arena of business development, account management and supply chain logistics. Her expertise crosses a wide range of industries and encompasses materials moved by water, road and rail here in the Twin Ports and across the Upper Midwest.

Prior to her most recent position as supply chain informatics senior specialist for Essentia Health, Ferguson spent nine years working in transportation logistics based here in Duluth — first with Great Lakes Fleet (GLF) and later with Canadian National Railway. She has spent the majority of her career analysing and improving efficiencies in cargo movement between ports and facilities along the Great Lakes-Seaway. From her role as sales, marketing and traffic analyst for GLF to her position as transload solutions manager for CN Supply Chain Solutions, Ferguson has focused on business development, project management, contract administration and the improvement of operational efficiencies for customers at dozens of multi-modal facilities.

Business management and transportation logistics have dominated Ferguson’s educational pursuits, as well. She graduated magna cum laude with bachelor’s degrees in transportation & logistics management and computer information systems from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, then earned an MBA at the University of Minnesota Duluth. She currently is pursuing a doctorate in transportation & logistics through North Dakota State University and is certified by the American Society of Transportation & Logistics.

“The port remains an economic driver for this community, the region and our state,” said Vanta Coda, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director. “Kate is unique in the world of logistics in many ways: accomplished academically in the discipline, experienced in multiple modes with supply chain execution responsibilities and connected to the Great Lakes maritime life. We have great expectations that her skill sets can leverage our mission of business and economic development to greater heights.”

A native of Alpena, Mich., Ferguson has spent her entire life along the shores of one or another Great Lake. “I rely on that knowledge almost every day in understanding the people and products that move across and within this region. Having that Great Lakes base really helps in building strong relationships with customers and networks with business and industry,” said Ferguson. “I can’t wait to get back to the working waterfront and am looking forward to working with the amazing team at the Port Authority.”

Ferguson’s maritime interests extend beyond the job, as well. She currently is serving as president of the Propeller Club of Duluth-Superior, spent three years on the board of the Lake Superior Marine Museum Association, has volunteered on the S.S. Meteor Preservation Project in Superior for five years, and has been a guest lecturer in the transportation & logistics management department at UWS since 2006.

After hours, you’ll likely find Ferguson on some type of playing field, in the woods or on the water as she is an avid outdoor fitness enthusiast — participating in everything from soccer, hockey, running, hiking, and biking to kayaking, wakeboarding, snowboarding, cross country skiing and 4×4 off- roading.

The Port of Duluth-Superior sees nearly 1,000 vessel visits each year, moving an average of 38 million tonnes of cargo including iron ore, coal, grain, limestone, cement and salt plus a variety of heavy-lift and project cargo.As the largest tonnage port on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway, cargo movements through the Port of Duluth-Superior support 11,500 jobs and contribute over $1.5 billion to the local/regional economy.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority is an independent, public agency created by the Minnesota Legislature to foster regional maritime commerce, promote trade development, facilitate industrial development and serve as an advocate for port interests. 

Port Corpus Christi Commissioner Barbara Canales: ‘Y Women in Careers’ Honoree  

The YWCA of Corpus Christi has named Port Corpus Christi Commissioner Barbara Canales as one of 2015’s ‘Y Women in Careers Honoree’s, reflecting her professional accomplishments and outstanding community leadership. Along with fellow recipients, Canales was honoured during a banquet on 5 March.

“I am honoured to be included in such a
distinguished group of women who have been recognized in the career fields throughout the years by the YWCA. The YWCA believes in empowering women so that they can achieve the success they desire in their respective arenas. I feel so fortunate to have been empowered by strong women my whole life and I attribute this honour to that mentorship,” says Commissioner Canales.”

Canales is a distinguished professional and active member of the South Texas community. She currently is a practising attorney and partner of Mother Ocean, LLC, and has been serving as a Commissioner of Port Corpus Christi since 2014. In addition, she currently sits on several boards and committees throughout the region, including the University of Texas at Austin College of Engineering Advisory Board; Ready or Not Foundation, President; Canales Foundation, President; Education is our Freedom Scholarship Foundation; Eagle Ford Shale Consortium Committee; and the South Texas Institute of the Arts Development Committee. She is also a member of the State Bar of Texas and the Corpus Christi Bar Association. Canales has had numerous past appointments.

“Since 1979, the YWCA Corpus Christi has honoured the remarkable, professional women of the coastal bend...By recognizing these amazing women, we can create positive role models for young girls in our community,” says, Nancy Wesson-Dodd,YWCA President/CEO.


As the primary economic engine of the Coastal Bend, Port Corpus Christi is the fifth-largest port in the United States in total tonnage. The port’s mission statement is to “serve as a regional economic development catalyst while protecting and enhancing its existing industrial base and simultaneously working to diversify its international maritime cargo business.” Strategically located on the western Gulf of Mexico, with a straight, 45’ deep channel, the port provides quick access to the Gulf and the entire United States inland waterway system. The port delivers outstanding access to overland transportation with on-site and direct connections to three Class-1 railroads and uncongested interstate and state highways. The port is protected by a state-of-the-art security department and an award-winning Environmental Management System. With outstanding management and operations staff, Port Corpus Christi is clearly “The Port of the Lone Star State.”

Port Corpus Christi is a member of START (South Texas Alliance for Regional Trade), a collaborative effort that highlights business opportunities in South Texas in the manufacturing, energy, aerospace, international trade, military and other sectors and the related strategic support provided by Port San Antonio, Port Corpus Christi and Port Laredo. 

First ocean vessel of 2015 arrives at Port of Indiana

The arrival of the 655-foot bulk carrier Irma at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor signals the official opening of the international shipping season. Port officials welcomed 2015’s first ocean vessel in April, with a ceremony presenting the Ports of Indiana ‘Steel Stein’ to the ship’s captain.

“Our port is open year-round handling Great Lakes ships and river barges, but the first ocean vessel of the year signifies the opening of Northwest Indiana’s gateway to the world,” said Port Director Rick Heimann. “These ships bring raw materials for local companies and transport finished goods from the Midwest to global markets. The shipping season also provides an important economic impact to the region for the skilled workers involved in the supply chain as well as many other related jobs and businesses that depend on these cargoes.”

Maritime operations at the port generate $4.3 billion per year in economic activity and support 33,000 total jobs. Overall in 2014, the Port of Indiana handled more shipments than any year since opening in 1970. Total volume was up nearly 30% over 2013 driven by strong shipments of steel, grain, limestone and salt.

Manned by Captain Piotr Szczesniak and a crew of 21 from Poland, the Cypress-flagged Irma picked up its steel cargo in Ijmuiden, Holland, and stopped in Cleveland and Milwaukee before coming to the Port of Indiana. Built in 2000, the vessel is owned and operated by the Polsteam Shipping Co.

The steel was unloaded by port stevedore Federal Marine Terminals with local workers from the International Longshoremen’s Assoc. and International Union of Operating Engineers.

“We had a great year in 2014 with record tonnage and activities at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor,” said Michel Tosini, executive vice president, Federal Marine Terminals. “We are very

encouraged by the prospect of another busy year in 2015 and through our long-term partnerships with the port and our customers, such as Tata Steel, we look forward to tackling the challenge.”

Over 50 workers unloaded 9,400 tonnes of steel coils from the Irma which are destined for Tata Steel in Chicago.

“We are always pleased with the arrival of the first vessel to the port each year as it symbolizes Tata’s continued commitment to our Midwest customers,” said Simon Golding, general manager for Tata Steel’s Shipping and Logistics Operations. “The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor plays a key role in our supply chain as the predominant gateway into this market region. We are looking forward to another safe and successful season.”

Port Director Heimann presented Captain Szczesniak with the ‘Steel Stein’, which commemorates Northwest Indiana’s identity as the “steel capital of North America,” producing more steel than any other region on the continent. The Port of Indiana is recognized as one of the top steel ports in the country for inbound and outbound shipments of steel and metal- related products.

On 2 April, the St. Lawrence Seaway opened for its 57th navigation season, providing the connection between the Great Lakes and Atlantic Ocean. Betty Sutton, administrator for the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., noted the Seaway realized a nearly 8% tonnage increase from 2013 to 2014, reflecting the increasing strength of the economy.

About the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor opened in 1970 and is operated by Ports of Indiana, a statewide port authority operating three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. Established in 1961, the Ports of Indiana is a self-funded enterprise dedicated to growing Indiana’s economy by
developing and maintaining a world-class port system.