The Soo Locks, located in Sault St. Marie, MI, will open Sunday, March 25, traditionally marking the start of major Great Lakes shipping efforts, with seven ore carriers scheduled to depart the Port of Sturgeon Bay this weekend.
The vessels scheduled to leave have been in lay-up and maintenance mode at Bay Shipbuilding, an operating division of Fincantieri Marine Group, since early January. More than 20 ore carriers have cycled their way through repair periods at Bay Shipbuilding this winter, employing more than 600 people in various trades.
Of the seven vessels scheduled to depart, three are 1,000-footers and four are the 700- to 800-foot- class ore carriers.
U.S.-flag Great Lakes operators moved 93.8 million tons of cargo in 2011, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association, an increase of 5.7 percent over 2010. This winter saw carriers spend more than $75 million at Great Lakes shipyards and repair facilities in order to maintain and modernize their vessels for the upcoming season.