WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. and Canadian Seaway Corporations marked the opening of the Seaway’s 57th navigation season today (April 2), with the transit of the newly-built CWB Marquis through the St. Lambert Lock.
The vessel is the first of two Equinox-class lakers ordered by Winnipeg-based grain marketer CWB that are being purpose-built for trade in the Great Lakes Seaway System.
In 2014, more than 12 million tons of grain moved through the Seaway, the highest volume recorded since the beginning of the 21st century.
“The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System provides global access to the heartland of North America, where opportunities abound,” said U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Administrator Betty Sutton. “Through a new Regional Outreach Initiative, we are working to expand our reach and role across the Great Lakes region – North America’s ‘Opportunity Belt’. Helping our cities, states, and provinces in the Great Lakes region realize further economic growth and productivity via our binational waterway is the overarching point. Additionally, the significant financial investments we are making in infrastructure and new technologies through our Asset Renewal Program are enabling the entire Great Lakes Seaway System to realize increased safety and efficiencies.”
“CWB’s recent investment in ships underlines the importance of the St. Lawrence Seaway to Canada’s agricultural industry. The Seaway serves as a vital transportation artery, enabling grain to be efficiently shipped both within North America and to more than 30 markets overseas,” said Terence Bowles, president and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “As agricultural technology boosts production and global demand for grain intensifies, there is great opportunity for the Seaway to be increasingly at the center of Canadian and U.S. efforts to broaden exports.”
Ian White, president and CEO of CWB, served as the keynote speaker at the opening.
“The future success of our company is dependent on reliable, cost-effective transportation networks going East, as well as West. Our new vessels, along with our terminals in Thunder Bay and Trois-Rivières, will allow us to reach our customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa quickly and, at the same time, get the best returns for farmers,” he said.
The CWB Marquis, which will be managed by Canadian shipping company Algoma Central Corporation, is part of a $4 billion fleet renewal program being undertaken by various Great Lakes Seaway System shipowners over a span of 10 years (2009-2018).
In terms of infrastructure support, the SLSDC is spending $99 million over the next five years to renew its asset base.
Likewise, the SLSMC is also in the midst of a five-year plan which commits almost $500 million to modernizing its locks and structures.
More than 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity are supported by the movement of various cargoes on the Great Lakes Seaway System. For more information on the St. Lawrence Seaway, please consult the www.greatlakes-seaway.com website.