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Boreal Community Media

Commercial shipping season begins!

Mar 20, 2018 06:20AM ● By Editor
The tug/barge Erie Trader/Clyde S. VanEnkevort departed Duluth at 12:04 p.m. destined for Two Harbors for a cargo of taconite pellets. The ship had advanced about a mile outside of the Aerial Lift Bridge by 3 p.m. as it was carefully breaking in a new engine.

The anticipated departure of six vessels this week signals a strong start to the 2018 commercial shipping season for the Port of Duluth-Superior, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority said Tuesday. The cargo ships will be leaving their winter berths to load iron ore for delivery to steel mills on the Lower Great Lakes.

U.S. Coast Guard cutter Alder made several passes through the ice in the shipping channels last week, and, starting today, Heritage Marine tugs will be assisting with breakout operations in the harbor. 

The first vessel to leave was the tug/barge Erie Trader/Clyde S. VanEnkevort at 12:04 p.m., which wintered at the Clure Public Marine Terminal. It will sail to the CN dock in Two Harbors to load iron ore.

The Edwin H. Gott is set to follow suit Thursday morning, while the Kaye E. Barker, which wintered at Fraser Shipyards, is also set to leave light that day as she heads to Marquette, Mich., to load iron ore. 

Two 1,000-footers are scheduled to load iron ore pellets Thursday in the Twin Ports. The James R. Barker will be moving from its berth at the Midwest Energy Terminal to the CN Duluth Dock. Similarly, the Burns Harbor will make its way from Elevator M to the BNSF Railway Dock in Superior and, once loaded, will likely depart via the Superior entry sometime Friday. Last in the line-up is the Lee A. Tregurtha, scheduled to leave Fraser Shipyards March 27 to load ore in Two Harbors.

Once loaded, those first five vessels will proceed across Lake Superior toward Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., to await the opening of the Soo Locks at 12:01 a.m. on SundayThat means, the Port of Duluth-Superior could begin seeing its first inbound lakers arriving a day or two later, depending on ice conditions.    

While the Soo Locks open Sunday, the Welland Canal and St. Lawrence Seaway locks are not scheduled to open until March 29. For updates on all vessel traffic, check the schedule posted on To follow transits in real-time, visit or or check mobile apps like Marine Traffic or Ship Finder.       

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here