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St Lawrence Seaway’s New Tug Experiences Issue Ahead of 2022 Buoy Pull

Photo credit: Pat English

St Lawrence Seaway’s New Tug Experiences Issue Ahead of 2022 Buoy Pull

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December 22, 2022

By Michael Folsom,

After much anticipation, the St Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation’s (SLSDC) new $24 million tug, Seaway Guardian, was expected to get it’s first crack at serving as the replacement for the 64-year old tug Robinson Bay during the annual buoy retrieval mission, however the new tug has been benched for this year’s mission.

Earlier this week, Seaway Guardian departed the Massena marine base at the US Locks en route for Clayton, NY to begin work on retrieving buoys from Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River. The tug was just east of Morrisburg, ON when the crew reported an issue and determined it was best to return to Massena. Divers were summoned to assess the concern once back in Massena and the tug has since remained on the upper Eisenhower Lock wall since Monday. 

With the clock ticking on the Seaway closure, which will occur on December 31 at Noon, the US Seaway has had to resort to finding an alternative vessel to help conduct the work.

After seeking assistance from Ocean Group that went unsuccessful, the Seaway was able to secure the Picton Terminal/Doornekamp tug, Amy Lynn D (ALD). ALD arrived at Eisenhower on Thursday morning before sunrise. It is currently unknown if the tug will take the place of Seaway Guardian completely or if it will serve as a support vessel, towing or pushing Guardian and her barge in order for the work to be done. 

Seaway Guardian’s primary missions are to be buoy maintenance and ice management. It is also equipped to assist in firefighting and emergency operational response on the St. Lawrence Seaway. The new tug cost $24 million to construct as part of the SLSDC’s Asset Renewal Program and serves as the replacement of the 64-year-old vessel, Robinson Bay, which still remains part of the SLSDC fleet and is docked in Massena. 

Construction of Seaway Guardian began back in 2018 with the keel being laid on June 26, 2018. The vessel launched on September 12, 2019. Sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico were completed in June 2020 and the tug began its delivery voyage to SLSDC’s marine base in Massena in July 2020. Since arriving in Massena, the tug has performed very little duties as the buoy tending barge had to undergo refit in Hamilton, ON. In November, the tug returned the barge from Hamilton as the crew prepared for this year’s buoy mission.

ALD’s crew is expected to return to Massena to begin its role in the operation on Boxing Day, December 26. Until then, no buoy work by the SLSDC will be completed.

This article was originally published by

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