The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System is a deep draught waterway extending 3,700km (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 180mt (million metric tonnes), and there is still ample room for growth. Some commodities are dominant:

  • iron ore for the steel industry;
  • coal for power generation and steel production; v 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 1,000ft-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% 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.


Since its inception in 1959, over 2.5 billion tonnes of cargo valued in excess of $375 billion has been transported via the Seaway. The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC), on behalf of the Government of Canada, and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC), on behalf of the United States Government, are dedicated to managing the Seaway channels and locks based upon the precepts found in the three ‘pillars’ of sustainability:



  • environmental – the SLSMC and SLSDC work diligently in overseeing transits into their waters, such that marine carriers move cargo in a manner that minimizes their environmental footprint;
  • economic — the SLSMC and SLSDC adapt new work practices and procedures and leverage technology to further refine their operations. The end result is a transportation system that moves tonnage cost effectively, reinforcing stakeholders’ economic competitiveness. — the SLSMC and SLSDC continue to advocate the
  • social advantages of moving cargo via the Great Lakes Seaway System, recognizing that marine transportation is the most energy efficient mode, having a very advantageous greenhouse gas footprint.


The marine mode of transportation exhibits the best fuel economy of any mode. When compared to transportation by rail and truck, the marine mode can move a tonne of cargo much further on a single litre of fuel. Given the design characteristics of a vessel’s hull, vessels actually operate more efficiently when loaded to capacity.


Superior fuel economy also plays a key role in explaining the marine mode’s advantageous performance in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. As we face the challenge of lowering our carbon footprint and reducing the level of greenhouse gases emitted each year, the marine mode provides a unique opportunity thanks to its superior fuel economy.


Vessels sailing within the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes use a wide variety of fuels. The actual fuel used depends upon the type of engine and auxiliary power units installed in the vessel, and the vessel’s trading pattern. Most vessels, whether oceangoing or dedicated to the lake trade use heavy fuels varying from Intermediate Fuel 60 to Intermediate Fuel 700. The number indicates the viscosity or thickness. Vessels with steam propulsion normally use heavy fuels in the Intermediate Fuel 380 to Intermediate Fuel 700 range in their boilers whereas diesel-propelled ships consume lighter blends between Intermediate Fuel 60 and Intermediate Fuel 320. Marine diesel oil is also consumed by some vessels, and this fuel consists primarily of distillate fuel with a very small quantity of heavy fuel added or gas oil which is pure distillate available in several grades. Heavy fuel supplies bunkered (sold) on the Great Lakes typically has a sulphur content ranging from 1.5% to 2%. In comparison, distillate fuels usually have .005% sulphur content.


According to Ken Westcar, marine market manager with Toromont Marine Power Systems located in Toronto, Ontario, new or repowered vessels on the Great Lakes Seaway System are fitted with engines having exhaust emission limits in compliance with International Maritime Organization (IMO) or US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules. These rules are increasingly stringent, and revised International Maritime Organization standards coming into effect on 1 January 2011 (IMO II) require a significant reduction in nitrogen oxide emissions from engines installed after that date. Most shipowners are now specifying IMO II/Environmental Protection Agency Tier 2 compliant engines well in advance of the deadline.

For vessels that were once powered by steam, engine replacements featuring modern marine diesels combined with the installation of exhaust gas heat recovery devices and shaft driven alternators has, in some cases, reduced the vessels’ nitrogen oxide emissions by 75% or more. Most fleets have engine update programs that will substantially reduce nitrogen oxide and particulate emissions on the Great Lakes when burning traditional fuels.


Air quality is an important factor in determining quality of life. The simple fact is that ships move a lot more cargo per unit of horsepower. Even if ships are not quite as clean per unit of horsepower, they burn much less fuel to move a tonne of cargo. When viewed from this perspective, the marine mode once again becomes the transportation mode of choice, as burning less fuel equates to fewer emissions being vented into the air.


A single Seaway-sized laker can carry about 25,000 tonnes of cargo. To carry an equivalent amount of cargo, you would need to assemble a fleet of 870 large trucks or 225 rail cars.

Moving more cargo via the marine mode provides the opportunity to reduce the amount of congestion on our busy highways and railroads.


The marine mode of transportation is the clear winner when it comes to safety. Accident definitions and reporting criteria differ somewhat by mode as well as in the reporting methods employed in Canada and the United States. However, estimates of standardized frequencies of accidents and their consequences in terms of deaths and injuries are published by the US Bureau of Transportation Statistics (National Transportation Statistics Report). These statistics show that moving cargo via the marine mode is the safest means available.


Quality of life cannot be defined strictly by the price of goods on a supermarket shelf. It is important to consider what it takes to get the goods to market. These factors include not only energy efficiency, emissions, and safety, but also factors such as spills, noise and congestion that the movement of goods brings about. ‘Spills’ in this context refers to harmful discharges into the environment occurring as a consequence of freight transportation. Within this definition, are included cargo leakages, accidental or deliberate spills, and discharges of materials used in the transportation process — most prominently fuels or lubricants used by vehicles or vessels.

Noise from transport is commonly held to be a nuisance,

particularly by those living near airports, rail marshalling yards, and highways. Noise is difficult to measure in ways which represent the nuisance that it produces.

In the absence of any quantitative evidence, it can only be conjectured how noise nuisance differs among the three freight modes. However, in view of the relative proximity of transport operations to residential areas, as well as the inherent nature of the transportation equipment and engines, it is proposed that trucks impose the greatest noise nuisance per tonne-km while vessels impose the least amount of noise nuisance.

Traffic congestion impacts a number of factors, including delays in shipments, increased greenhouse gas emissions, higher air contamination, and increased noise. In the absence of quantified estimates for traffic conditions in the region bordering the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway, only conjecture of qualitative rankings is possible. It is clear from the nature of marine traffic that there are few, if any, delays on the water.

In terms of rail, some serious congestion occurs around Chicago, the largest US rail hub, and the location of substantial transshipment activity. Considering truck traffic, there is severe congestion during rush hours in all of the major cities, and some cities such as Toronto are experiencing increasing congestion even within the daytime period between rush hour peaks.


The St. Lawrence and Great Lakes marine industry is taking action to strengthen its environmental performance. For the first time in North America, all sectors of the marine industry have united to voluntarily adopt an environmental programme designed to drive a process of continuous improvement along this major maritime corridor.

The programme, entitled, ‘Green Marine’, is being spearheaded by an alliance of the marine industry associations in Canada and the United States: v American Great Lakes Ports Association v Canadian Shipowners Association v Chamber of Marine Commerce v Ontario Marine Transportation Forum v Shipping Federation of Canada v St. Lawrence Economic Development Council (SODES) v St. Lawrence Shipoperators and v United States Great Lakes Shipping Association

Both Seaway entities have been members of Green Marine community since its inception.

Richardson’s Hamilton: Ontario grain hub 

Richardson’s Hamilton terminal opened in 1998 as a hub to source and export Ontario grains. The initial storage capacity was 16,000 tonnes and, after the first year of operation, this was expanded to 28,500 metric tonnes. In 2008, a further 15,000 metric tonnes was added to bring the total up to 43,500. In 2011, the terminal added the necessary equipment to enable it to load out railcars to supply both the Canadian domestic and US markets. Richardson International is Canada’s largest, privately owned agribusiness and has served farmers across the country for more than 150 years. With more than 1,800 employees across Canada, Richardson is a worldwide handler and merchandiser of all major Canadian-grown grains and oilseeds. Richardson is one of Canada’s ‘Best Managed Companies’ and is recognized as a global leader in agriculture and food processing.

In 2012, Richardson’s Hamilton terminal decided there was a need to become more efficient in unloading trucks, so the number of truck-unloading pits was increased from two to three as well as an automated order number entry system was designed to go along with the two new truck platform scales which keeps inbound truck loads of grain moving at a more efficient and faster pace. In 2013, the terminal is expanding the terminal office to allow more room for the staff to perform their duties.

Richardson was the first company to load a vessel with grain at the Port of Hamilton. Volume has dramatically increased since that event in 1997 and Hamilton is now the major hub for moving Ontario grown commodities into domestic and export positions by vessel. The bulk of the commodities Richardson moves are loaded onto Laker vessels and transfered to the terminal’s sister facility in Sorel, Quebec for further movement into export destinations. Hamilton also loads Handysized ocean vessels for direct movement to export locations and utilizes any of the ocean freight that moves commodities into the Great Lakes region.

The facility is comprised mainly of Hi-Roller and Schlagel conveyors and bucket elevators with Westeel and Brock steel grain storage bins.

Richardson buys and sells the grain it handles and co-ordinates and manages the freight using various agencies that work in the St. Lawrence Seaway and Great Lakes region. 
One for the record books: earliest ever ‘saltie’ set for Duluth-Superior 

At the time of writing, the Port of Duluth- Superior was preparing to welcome its first oceangoing ship (‘saltie’) of the 2013 commercial shipping season. The Hong Kong-flagged Federal Hunter was expected to arrive on Friday afternoon,

29 March, which would also put it first in Twin Ports’ history books as the earliest arrival for a full transit of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway (GLSLS) system. The previous record was set by the India-flag LT Argosy on 1 April 1995.

Adding to weekend excitement was the anticipated Saturday arrival of a sister ship, the Cyprus-flag Federal Elbe, almost on Hunter’s heels. The Elbe was likely to sit at anchor for a day or two before loading.

The Federal Hunter began her voyage in Rostock, Germany, discharging cargo in Contrecoeur, Quebec, before proceeding to the Twin Ports. Scheduled to arrive beneath Duluth’s Aerial Lift Bridge, the 656-ft (200m) vessel was set to make its way to the CHS elevator in Superior to load durum and spring wheat. It was anticipated that the Hunter would depart late Monday with approximately 15,000 metric tonnes (16,535 short tons) onboard, stop in Thunder Bay to top-off with another 5,000 tonnes of Canadian spring wheat, then retrace her route through the system and across the Atlantic for deliveries in France and the UK.

The Hunter is under the command of Captain Khalil Zamindar. Local vessel agent is Daniel’s Shipping Services; Heritage Marine handled icebreaking at the elevator; stevedoring is being handled by Ceres Terminals; Lakeshead Forwarding is serving as freight forwarders for CHS; tug assistance is being provided by Great Lakes Towing.

The Port Authority had tentatively scheduled a First Ship Ceremony for Monday afternoon aboard the vessel — an invitation-only event for community leaders and representatives from the maritime industry to welcome the 22-member crew to the Twin Ports. Invited guests included: Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen, Superior Port Director Jason Serck, Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Adolph Ojard,Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers Director Tom Anderson, and Gene Shaw,Visit Duluth director of public relations, who were set to announce the winner of the 2013 First Ship Contest.

“We are very proud to open the 2013 season for international shipping in Duluth/Superior with the Federal Hunter,

said Paul Pathy, Fednav president and co-CEO. “We are looking forward to a good season in the Lakes, and particularly in the Twin Ports. Fednav is clearly committed to the Great Lakes- Seaway System, a system that is a valuable part of the economy for both the US and Canada.”

Fednav Group, the largest oceangoing user of the St. Lawrence Seaway with an average of 100 voyages each year, is increasing the capacity of its fleet in the Lakes. The company recently ordered six new vessels from shipyards in Japan, bringing to nine the number of new Lakes ships delivered or ordered since 2011 — all state-of-the-art vessels built to be more fuel efficient and to reduce emissions as well as to accommodate the installation of ballast water treatment equipment once Coast Guard type-approved.

The Port of Duluth-Superior provides a direct link between the heartland of North America and markets in Europe and other Mediterranean/North African countries. “Utilizing this inland marine highway keeps transportation costs competitive and enables Midwestern farmers — as well as providers of other bulk commodities like coal and iron ore plus shippers of heavy lift and project cargo – to compete in a global marketplace,” said Adolph Ojard, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director. “The Great Lakes-Seaway system begins — and ends — here in the Twin Ports; it’s what connects us to the world and makes this port an international seaport along what is often called our nation’s fourth seacoast.”

The Federal Hunter’s arrival is more than a week earlier than last year’s first saltie, the Arubaborg, which sailed into port on 6 April 2012.

Close to 1,000 ships visit the Port of Duluth-Superior each year, moving roughly 40 million tonnes of cargo — iron ore, coal, grain, limestone, cement, salt, plus project cargo and more. The Port of Duluth-Superior is the largest tonnage port on the Great Lakes-Seaway; cargo movements through the Twin Ports support 11,500 jobs and contribute over $1.5 billion in business revenues to the local/regional economy. 
Port of Toledo keeps busy in 2012 with ‘Port Modernization Program’ 

It was another busy year for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority’s project managers, grant managers and administrative staff while the Port of Toledo continued to make major progress in its Port Modernization Program in concert with several major economic development projects in the community.

At the General Cargo Facility operated by Midwest Terminals, over $985,000 was invested to reconfigure the entrance of the facility. The new entrance integrates a truck scale and allows for two lanes of entry and exit from the facility. A new guard house and camera systems were constructed to enhance security at the site. 
The second phase of construction at the new Ironville Dock operated by Midwest Terminals was completed during 2012 and the rail loop, which was completed during the first phase of construction, began to be utilized. Two million dollars were invested in construction of the dock wall and dredging during 2012. The third phase of construction to be completed in 2013 will introduce bulk material handling infrastructure to the site. 

At the Toledo Shipyard operated by Ironhead Marine, over $897,000 was invested to construct a new guard house and improve lighting and fencing at the facility. In addition to the security enhancements, over $668,000 was invested to reconstruct the dock wall in the area between the large 805 foot and smaller 550 foot graving docks.

Since 2008, the Toledo-Lucas Port Authority has been involved in the acquisition of environmentally challenged real estate located in Lucas County, Ohio. Through the leveraging of partnerships with the State of Ohio and the federal government, the port has been successful in acquiring, remediating and redeveloping more than 350 acres of land. In 2010, the port acquired 111 acres of land that had been historically used for the production of automobiles located at 1000 Jeep Parkway in Toledo. The port has been successful in acquiring more than $8 million in grant funds for the site’s redevelopment. The redevelopment of the site has been broken into three phases. The first phase of redevelopment involved the remediation of environmental issues on site. The second phase of redevelopment completed in 2012, involved the removal of foundations and the fill and grading of several portions of the site. Over $2 million were invested for phase two construction of the site during 2012. The final phase of redevelopment is the vertical construction of facilities on the site. In 2012 the port announced a partnership agreement with Harmon Family Development Corporation to do site and infrastructure planning on the 111 acre property known as Overland Industrial Park.

In 2012 the Port Authority purchased One Maritime Plaza from the American Maritime Officers. The seven storey building houses the port’s headquarters. The Port Authority invested $757,000 above the purchase price in the building for roofing, lighting and other improvements.

Through the Better Buildings Northwest Ohio programme, the Port Authority has partnered with the City of Toledo on a host of energy efficiency projects including upgrading lighting, insulation and boiler replacements. In 2012, Port Authority energy projects administered through the program to benefit the community totalled over $1.6 million.

In 2011 the Port Authority acquired three downtown Toledo parking garages from the City of Toledo. In 2012 the Port Authority invested over $921,000 in the facilities to replace lighting and install automated controls at each parking garage exit gateway.

Lake Carriers Association: standing up for shipping on the Great Lakes 

The Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA) represents US-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes. The Association’s 17 member companies operate 57 US-flag self-propelled vessels and tug/barge units (lakers) ranging in length from 494 to 1,013.5 feet. These vessels can carry more than 115mt (million tonnes) of cargo in a year. Iron ore, limestone and coal are the primary commodities carried by LCA members. Other cargoes include cement, salt, sand and grain. The vast majority of cargoes carried by US-flag lakers move between US ports, in what is commonly referred to as the Jones Act trades.

In promoting the common interests of its members and their customers, LCA places special importance on legislative and regulatory matters. To facilitate a broad-based understanding of US-flag shipping on the Great Lakes and its role in the nation’s economy, LCA compiles statistical information on the volume of cargo movement, both in US-flag lakers and from major Great Lakes ports in the United States and Canada.

America can take pride in the US-flag Great Lakes fleet. No other maritime nation has assembled such a modern, productive fleet of self-unloading vessels. The thirteen 1,000-footers flying the US flag on the Lakes are longer than most of the grandest ocean liners. So technologically advanced are these vessels that they can discharge 70,000 tonnes of iron ore or coal in ten hours or less without any assistance from shoreside personnel or equipment. The industry’s carbon footprint is the smallest of any of the major transportation modes.


US-flag lakers carried 89.5mt of dry-bulk cargo in 2012, a decrease of 4.6% compared to 2011. The 2012 float was 1.5% off the five-year average for US-flag lakers.

US-flag lakers carried 45.2mt of iron ore in 2012, or 73.3% of the total volume of iron ore moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 45.2mt of iron ore carried by US-flag lakers represented a decrease of 4.3% from 2011.

Coal cargoes moved in US bottoms totalled 17.6mt in 2012, or 69.3% of the total volume of coal moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 17.6mt of coal carried by US-flag lakers represented a decrease of 13.1% from 2011.

The limestone trade in US-flag hulls totalled 21.8mt in 2012, or 79% of the total volume of limestone moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 21.8mt of limestone carried by US-flag lakers represented an increase of 1.7% (360,000 tonnes) over 2011.

Year-end totals for the other commodities are not yet available for vessels of all flags, but US-flag cargoes of cement increased 13%. Loadings of salt in US-flag lakers slipped almost 30%. The sand trade in US bottoms was virtually unchanged from 2011, but grain cargoes in US-flag hulls rose 31%.

Shipments of iron ore on the Great Lakes totalled 61.6mt in 2012, a slight improvement over 2011. The increase, 245,000 tonnes, is equal to about four cargoes in a 1,000ft-long vessel operating at current draughts which are significantly reduced by the dredging crisis and falling water levels. If a vessel that size was able to load to depths available when the Lakes were at near record highs in 1997, it could carry that much cargo in 3.4 trips.

Shipments from US ports totalled 53.7mt, a decrease of 2.5% compared with 2011. Included in that total were 3.7mt transshipped to Québec City for loading into oceangoing vessels.

Loadings at Canadian ports in the St. Lawrence Seaway totalled 7.9mt, an increase of 25.3%. Shipments of coal on the Great Lakes totalled 25,347,709 tonnes in 2012, a decrease of 8.2% compared with 2011. The trade was 25% off its five-year average.

Shipments from Lake Superior ports — 15.1mt — were just about even with 2011. Included in that total were 1.3mt shipped to Québec City for loading into oceangoing vessels and delivery overseas.

Loadings at Chicago terminals totalled 3.2mt, a decrease of 14.5% from 2011, but a slight increase over their five-year average.

Shipments from Lake Erie ports totalled 7mt, a decrease of nearly 19% compared with 2011.

The impacts of falling water levels and lack of adequate dredging were clearly evident as the year came to a close. The largest coal cargo shipped through the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, in December totalled 62,043 tonnes. The largest coal cargo passing through the locks during 2012 was 64,706 tonnes. When near record-high water levels offset the lack of dredging in the late 1990s, a US-flag laker was able to carry nearly 71,000 tonnes in a single trip.

Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totalled 27,145,219 tonnes in 2012, a decrease of 3.6% compared with 2011. The trade was 7% below its five-year average.

Shipments from US ports fell 2.4% when compared with 2011, and slightly more — 4.1% — when compared to their five-year average. Loadings at Canadian quarries decreased 9% compared to 2011, and slipped almost 19% compared with their five-year average.

Falling water levels and the dredging crisis (see below) took a toll in 2012. By year’s end, a vessel that has carried as much as 35,457 tonnes in a single trip averaged only 29,796 tonnes on the three stone loads it moved in December. The cargoes were loaded at a quarry on Lake Huron and that body of water has fallen to a new record low.


Decades of inadequate dredging have severely reduced the efficiency of Great Lakes shipping. Lakers routinely leave the loading dock with 10% or more of their carrying capacity unused. These inefficiencies jeopardize hundreds of thousands of family-sustaining jobs and stall business growth. The Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) has a surplus of $7 billion because, while it takes in $1.6 billion per year from a tax on cargo, it spends less than $800 million annually. If used for its intended (and sole) purpose — dredging — the HMTF could easily provide the $200 million the US Army Corps of Engineers needs to dredge the 17-plus million cubic yards of sediment that clog ports and waterways and so restore the Great Lakes Navigation System to project dimensions. Congress must pass legislation requiring the HMTF to spend what it takes in each year and then the funds must be distributed more equitably. The Lakes have not received their fair share of dredging dollars for decades. In some years the inland rivers’ allocation is twice that the Lakes on a tonne-of-cargo

moved basis. Legislation requiring the HMTF is advancing in Congress. S. 218, introduced by Michigan Senator Carl Levin (D) has 32 co- sponsors. H.R. 335 has 94 co- sponsors.

FEDERAL REGULATION OF BALLAST WATER Vessels entering the Great Lakes from the Atlantic Ocean have unwittingly introduced non-indigenous species. However, no new exotics have been identified since 2006, and this development is closely tied to the requirement that came into effect that year that oceangoing vessels exchange their ballast before entering the St. Lawrence Seaway.

US Coast Guard regulations will also require oceangoing vessels to treat their ballast, some as soon as 2014. EPA regulations generally mirror the Coast Guard’s requirements, but a small number of US-flag lakers would also be required to treat their ballast if they trade beyond the Welland Canal.

The fact that no system that can handle lakers’ flowrate for ballast (as much as 80,000 gallons per minute) is even on the drawing board is but one reason Federal regulations should not require lakers to treat their ballast. The Lakes are interconnected, so once an exotic has taken root, it can and will migrate at will. Some aquatic nuisance species have been present for more than 50 years. They have moved or been moved to wherever they are going to be in the Lakes.

Another more basic reason lakers need not treat their ballast is they confine their operations to these waters. Most are Lakes-locked; they are too big to enter the Seaway. The few lakers that are Seaway-sized are not certificated to go overseas.

The ballast water treatment systems that will be required on oceangoing vessels by the Coast Guard and EPA should protect the Lakes from future introductions. The companies that trade to the Lakes from overseas need an assurance the systems they soon will install will meet regulatory requirements for the life of the vessel.

The EPA’s regulations allow individual states to add their own requirements and this has already created a patchwork of differing mandates. If states must co-regulate ballast water, they should align their requirements with the Coast Guard’ Federal regulations.


A closure of the Poe Lock that connects Lake Superior to the lower four Great Lakes and Seaway will slow the iron ore, western coal, and export grain trades to a trickle. The lock must be twinned to ensure waterborne commerce on the Fourth Sea Coast remains the bedrock for the nation’s transportation system.

Building a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan will also create living- wage jobs in the Great Lakes region. The $590 million project will generate 1.5 million man hours for construction workers and use steel, aggregate and cement from Great Lakes states. The project is shovel-ready; once Congress provides a $100 million appropriation, full-scale construction can begin almost immediately.

The primary reason full-scale construction is stalled is the flawed benefit/cost analysis that has given the project a b/c ratio of less than 1, which means the Administration cannot include it in a future budget. A the behest of Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) a new study is underway and will take into account factors not considered by the current assessment.

ADEQUATE US COAST GUARD ICEBREAKING RESOURCES Five of the eight US Coast Guard icebreakers on the Great Lakes are more than 30 years old and are in need of replacement or modernization. Despite the crews’ best efforts, breakdowns are not uncommon. This uncertainty is jeopardizing shipping during the ice season that stretches from early December to mid- April. US-flag lakers can move as much as 20% of their annual total during periods of ice cover. Oceangoing vessels need assurances the Coast Guard can keep the shipping lanes open, otherwise they will not come late in the season for fear of being trapped over the winter. The past three winters have seen an East Coast icebreaker transferred to the Lakes. The assignment will become permanent this May, but that’s only part of the solution. Congress must fund construction of a second heavy icebreaker to supplement the MACKINAW that was built in 2006.

Canada should reassess its commitment to icebreaking on the Lakes. The country has trimmed its icebreaking fleet from seven to two vessels even though Canadian lakers are just as active during the ice season as their US-flag counterparts.

Port of Milwaukee remains active even during the winter Seaway closure 

While the St Lawrence Seaway closes its locks at the end of December, ports in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron continue to welcome ships throughout January and February. Milwaukee received a couple vessels a week throughout these months, carrying rock salt to be used on roads to keep them ice-free.The St. Mary’s Challenger which had been berthed here for the winter has already left for their 2013 season, delivering its first load of cement on 5 March. So although the Seaway is closed, shipping at the Port of Milwaukee on Lake Michigan barely stops. In addition, the Port of Milwaukee has inland river barges that come from the Gulf of Mexico up to Milwaukee on Lake Michigan that run year round.

The Port of Milwaukee serves as a regional transportation and distribution centre with a primary market including the State of Wisconsin, northern and western Illinois (including the city of Chicago) and eastern Minnesota, including the ‘Twin Cities’ of Minneapolis/ St. Paul. The port is also capable of cost-effectively reaching Iowa, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Missouri and Indiana; and the western Canadian Provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The port owns 13.5 miles (21.7km) of rail that connect to two class I railroads outside the port.

The Port of Milwaukee offers an operational flexibility unique to the western Great Lakes and the inland waterway system. Terminals designed for the efficient handling of general and project cargoes, roll on/roll off, containers, dry and liquid bulk and heavy lifts in excess of two hundred tons, provide vessel owners and cargo interests with safe, efficient and cost effective cargo handling services.

The Port of Milwaukee has 16 berths for vessels, each capable of handling vessels with a Seaway Maximum draught of 8m at normal water conditions, with a length of 304.8m. The Port also has two dedicated barge berths with draughts in excess of 5.5m.

The Port of Milwaukee is located on the western shore of Lake Michigan, about 75 miles north of the city of Chicago. The port is 1,021 nautical miles from Montreal with a transit time by water from Montreal of about 4.5 days.


The Port of Milwaukee is served by two Class I railroads, the CP/Soo Line and the Union Pacific Railroad. Both railroads provide direct pier delivery at all port facilities as well as necessary switching services.

Federal Interstate Highway System I-94/794 leads directly into the Port of Milwaukee, assuring delay-free pick-up and delivery of commodities by truck. There are exit/entrance ramps direct to port service roads. Transits to/from the Interstate to major port terminals take less than five minutes. Highway connections to cities within a 350-mile radius (Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Peoria, Des Moines, Moline, and Indianapolis) are accomplished within a few hours. Public truck scales are available in the port.

The Port of Milwaukee is capable of serving down river areas as far as the US Gulf by inland river barge. Transits cross lower Lake Michigan to the Illinois River and thence to the Mississippi

River at St. Louis to the US Gulf. Transit times by barge to the US Gulf average about 30 days.


The port provides over 330,000ft2 of covered warehouse space for bulk, steel and general cargoes, including 30,000ft2 of heated space. All facilities are steel frame buildings with brick/aluminium exteriors. All general cargo piers are paved with concrete and asphalt and each is rail served. Total general cargo facility exceeds 20 acres (8.1 hectares), plus additional backup storage as needed. The port is well known for its heavy lift capability. Its stiff leg derrick is capable of lifting a total of 200,000kg at a 16m radius. Additional capacity can be provided up to a maximum of about 247,200kg at a 13.7m radius.

Milwaukee handles a diverse mix of general cargoes including steel, forest products, bagged materials, heavy machinery, farm and construction machinery, and project cargoes.

A full roster of distributive services can be provided including but not limited to warehousing, sorting, recooping, decanning, palletizing and container stripping and stuffing.


The Port of Milwaukee has devoted over 50 acres (20.24 hectares) to dry bulk storage and handling facilities, including four storage domes totalling 50,000 tonnes of storage. Much of the ground storage is paved. Additional acreage is available for dry bulk storage. Dry bulk handling services include storage and stock piling, direct transfer truck/rail/barge, vessel loading and unloading, packaging, palletizing and processing.

The port handles a wide variety of dry bulk materials including salt, construction aggregates, coal, fertilizers, cement and grain products.