St. Lawrence Seaway Opens for 60th Season

April 2, 2018
By Bob Peters

Cornwall Ontario –  The St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened for the 2018 shipping season, with the transit of the newly built Algoma Niagarathrough Lock 3 on the Welland Canal on March 29.

2018 marks the 60th navigation season for the waterway and the 20th anniversary of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC).

“As we enter the 60th navigation season, the Seaway has the capacity to double its current tonnage within its existing locks and channels” said Terence Bowles, SLSMC President and CEO. “The stage has been set for a St. Lawrence Seaway that will effectively serve its stakeholders for decades to come, with strong advancements in efficiency, safety, and flexibility to respond to varying market conditions.”

The SLSMC has invested over $1 billion in asset maintenance, renewing many parts of the infrastructure that date back to 1959 in the Montreal-Lake Ontario section, and back to 1932 in the Welland Canal section. Some of the most dramatic changes have taken place within the Welland Canal, including a series of tie-ups walls that were recently rebuilt, representing an investment of $100 million.

“Our steadfast commitment to maintenance and asset renewal enables the St. Lawrence Seaway to uphold its excellent record of system reliability, consistently registering above 99% year-after-year,” said Mr. Bowles.

The Algoma Niagara is part of a multi-billion dollar fleet renewal program undertaken by shipowners who frequent the St. Lawrence Seaway, underlining the industry’s strong degree of confidence in the future of the waterway. As the most energy efficient means of moving cargo with the lowest carbon footprint, these newly built ships play an important role in supporting both economic growth and enhanced trade in a highly sustainable manner.

The Seaway’s modernization program coupled with the marine industry’s fleet renewal positions the waterway as a highly competitive transportation system.

“We are very pleased to celebrate 20 years of progress,” noted Mr. Bowles “Since 1998, the SLSMC has worked collectively with its partners to reinforce the Seaway’s competitiveness as a vital transportation artery. Our modernization program brings about the greatest advancements in Seaway operations since its inception 60 years ago.”

Quick Facts

  • The Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway is a “marine highway” that extends some 3,700 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes.
  • Approximately 160 million tonnes of cargo travels over the Seaway on an annual basis, supporting over 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity.
  • Beginning in Montreal and extending to points west, the Seaway’s 15 locks (13 Canadian and 2 U.S.) enable ships to climb a total of 168 metres from “sea level” up to Lake Erie.
  • In 2003, the Seaway was the first inland waterway in North America to adopt the Automatic Identification System (AIS) to share vital marine navigation data from ship-to-ship and ship-to-shore in real time.
  • Since 2010, Canadian shipowners have invested over $2 billion on specially-designed, eco-friendly vessels built for use in the Seaway.
  • In 2012, the Seaway introduced the use of the Draft Information System, which combines satellite-based location data and highly accurate hydrographic maps to model a ship’s under-keel-clearance in 3D, allowing vessels to safely transit the Seaway with an additional three inches of draft (allowing for up to 400 tonnes of additional cargo to be loaded).
  • In 2015, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation received the Promising Innovation in Transport Award by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for developing the first hands-free mooring system in the world for a lock system.

About The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation
The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation was established in 1998 as a not-for-profit corporation by the Government of Canada, Seaway users and other key stakeholders. In accordance with provisions of the Canada Marine Act, the Corporation manages and operates the Canadian assets of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which remain the property of the Government of Canada, under a long-term agreement with Transport Canada.


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