Freight News, Sea

Last ‘saltie’ departs Port of Duluth-Superior mid-December

[ December 21, 2018   //   ]

There was a flurry of grain-loading activity in the Twin Ports during the past several weeks as 17 oceangoing vessels (‘salties’) arrived to load cargoes ahead of winter closure of the St. Lawrence Seaway at the end of December.

The Federal Rhine will be the last saltie to leave the Port of Duluth-Superior this season, though Great Lakes freighters will continue to move bulk commodities for another month as weather and ice conditions allow since the Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., is scheduled to remain open until midnight January 15.

The 656-foot Federal Rhine is loading 21,300 metric tons of durum wheat today and Saturday at the CHS elevator in Superior—wheat bound for Italy where it will be milled and made into pasta, which likely will be packaged and shipped back to U.S. grocery stores.

The Federal Rhine is expected to depart by mid-afternoon Saturday (Dec. 15), enabling the ship to clear Seaway locks well ahead of Christmas.

“The Port of Duluth-Superior is ending the shipping season on a strong note, “said Deb DeLuca, Duluth Seaway Port Authority executive director. “Through November, grain volume was up 22 percent over last year, and shipments of Minnesota iron ore were outpacing the five-year average by over 25 percent. While coal loadings have dropped significantly in recent years, iron ore shipments have picked up pace—already at 18.4 million short tons through November. With Great Lakes traffic continuing for another month, we anticipate the Port’s overall tonnage tally will top 32 million tons to close out the 2018 shipping season.”