Port of Windsor Receives First Lake Freighter of Shipping Season

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Windsor Star/Dalson Chen

It’s a little late coming, but it may be a sign the long winter is finally over: The Port of Windsor has been visited by its first lake freighter of the year.

The MV Baie Comeau — 225 metres long and 24 metres wide — docked at Windsor Salt on Thursday, took on 24,000 tons of salt, and was back in Lake Erie by Friday.

“She’s a big, beautiful ship,” said Harbour Master Peter Berry.

The Baie Comeau’s 14-hour cargo stop represents the official opening of the Port of Windsor’s 2014 shipping season.

According to the Windsor Port Authority, this year’s start was about a week later than usual. The severity of this winter’s weather resulted in heavy ice across the Great Lakes that prevented commercial vessels from their usual movements.

Berry said the Baie Comeau had to travel in a convoy with an icebreaker escort after setting out from Montreal.

“In Lake Erie, we’re still looking at three-foot thick ice in some places,” Berry explained. “It’s starting to fracture and move, but it still slows down the ships.”

WPA President David Cree said that at this time last year, the Port of Windsor had already been visited by 10 vessels.

He’s hopeful that as the ice clears from the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway, the shipping season will recover quickly.

Environment Canada forecasts that the Great Lakes won’t be completely clear of ice cover until the end of April or early May.

The fourth Trillium-class freighter belonging to Canada Steamship Lines, the Baie Comeau is a new vessel — built only last year at the Chengxi Shipyard in China.

Berry said the Port of Windsor typically sees about 1,000 vessels of varying sizes each year.

The next ship due to stop in our area is the 190-metre Russian bulk carrier Luebbert, expected this weekend at the dock at Morterm Limited.

Berry said the Luebbert will be the Port of Windsor’s first ocean-going freighter of the season.