From approximately 2012-2015, the Great Lakes-Seaway News provided critical information updates, and thoughtful commentary about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System and the maritime industry. This site no longer offers current news and should be viewed in a historical context. For the latest news about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System go to:
The content below is from the site's 2013 - 2015 archived pages.

About This Website

Great Lakes-Seaway News' purpose is to provide news, critical information updates, and thoughtful commentary to those who care about the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System specifically, and the maritime industry in general. It is important that Great Lakes-Seaway News also become a forum and online meeting place so that ideas can be presented, issues can be debated and relationships can be made to advance the seaway system’s interests for now and for the future.

Therefore, Great Lakes Seaway News will serve as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System's newspaper, its online bulletin board, its meeting place for innovation and discussion, and its clubhouse for the development of plans and activities which will serve those who participate in the online marketplace of ideas.

Great Lakes-Seaway News is an independent publication and as such, is not affiliated in any way with the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or any other agencies of the governments of the United States of America or Canada.


Port Of Green Bay Holds Contest To Guess Date Of First Ship Arrival

FRIDAY, MARCH 14, 2014 AT 10:57AM

The ice cover over Green Bay is thinker than it has been in many years.  With ice still covering as much as 90 percent of the Great Lakes, US Coast Guard icebreaking operations are likely to be stretched to the limit, delaying ice breaking activities in some ports with limited commercial vessel traffic like the Ports of Green Bay and Chicago.

The Port of Green Bay has decided to make a guessing game of the date of arrival for its first ship of the 2014 navigation season.  The Port of Green Bay and Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau are offering a prize to the individual who can come closest to guessing when the first ship will arrive at the port this year.

The prize package includes passage for one vehicle and two passengers on the Washington Island Ferry, a $25 gift certificate to The Ship’s Wheel restaurant on Washington Island and four Port of Green Bay can coolers.

Green Bay Port Director Dean Haen says the 2013 navigation season ended earlier than usual, which may increase demand for ships early in the 2014 navigation season, but the Great Lakes are 90 percent frozen over and the port cannot ask for ice-breaking assistance until March 15 at the earliest.

In fact, given the ice conditions that currently exist in the Great Lakes region some experts say that icebreaking operations on Green Bay won't occur until the second or third week of April at the earliest.

To register a prediction, go to and click on the First Ship in Port contest link.

Green Bay's WBAY Channel 2 Action News featured the port contest on a recent broadcast which can be found at: 


USCG Warns Navigation Season Opening May Be "Long And Difficult" 

THURSDAY, MARCH 13, 2014 AT 11:32AM

The Commander of the United States Coast Guard's (USCG) Ninth District warns that the "breakout at the opening of the 2014 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway navigation at the end of this month may be "long and difficult."

In a letter to industry leaders dated March 7, RADM Fred Midgette says, "Spring breakout this year will be one of the most challenging on record," adding, "unless something changes drastically in the next few weeks, Breakout will be long and difficult."

Both the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards have added additional icebreaking assets due to the near-record ice cover experienced on the Great Lakes this winter.  Nine USCG icebreakers, including six Bay-class icebreaking tugs, rather than the five such tugs working in most years.  The Canadian Coast Guard is also adding at least one additional icebreaker to the usual compliment of ice breakers used in the Great Lakes.

Ice conditions during the winter months have exceeded the icebreaking capability of some of the USCG's most capable icebreakers.  RADM said that the USCGC Hollyhock met ice conditions beyond its capabilities in the St. Mary's River and the Straits of Mackinac this winter and that he expects ice conditions on Lake Superior may exceed the icebreaking capabilities of the USCGC Mackinaw.

The Ninth District Commander went so far as to suggest that shipping companies delay sailing dates and curtailing operations until ice conditions improve even though winter stockpiles of raw industrial materials are running low and plants will soon require the raw materials inputs provided by the commercial ships of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway maritime industry.    


Great Lakes Ice Cover Nears Record

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 2014 AT 08:53AM

Transit Restrictions For Seaway Opening Announced

TUESDAY, MARCH 11, 2014 AT 12:38PM

Yesterday, the two corporations that manage the St. Lawrence Seaway, the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) announced certain restrictions concerning ships planning to transit the Seaway during the opening days of the 2014 navigation season.

The notice to mariners follows: 

Transit Restrictions at Opening (Draft and Power to Length Ratio)

Unique ice conditions are encountered in the St. Lambert–Iroquois segment. To reduce the problem of lengthy delays caused by ships operating in ice, the following restrictions will apply during the opening period.

a. From 08:00 hours on March 28 until ice conditions improve, ships in the following categories will not be accepted for transit between St. Lambert and Iroquois Locks:


i. Ships with a power to length ratio of less than 24:1 (kW/metre);

ii.Ships with a forward draft of less than 50 dm.


i. Ships with a power to length ratio of less than 15:1 (kW/metre);

ii.Ships with a forward draft of less than 25 dm.

b. In all cases, the draft is to be sufficient to have the propeller fully submerged.

c. The draft limitations referred to in a) do not apply to tugs.

d. Subject to approval, ship operators may utilise a tug of a minimum of 3000 HP to augment the power of a ship not meeting the requirements as specified above. In calculating the ship’s power to length ratio, 50% of the tug’s horsepower can be added to the ship’s power.

e. For determining the power to length ratio, the information contained in the Lloyd’s Register will be used.

f. Ship operators should note that compliance with the above restrictions does not assure transit and that the Seaway entities may increase or decrease the restrictions as ice or other conditions dictates. These changes will be announced as early as practical, but in no case later than 24 hours before they go into effect.


Beware The Witch Of November This Week


Meteorologists have issued warnings about particularly strong winds and heavy seas on the Great Lakes this week with a maximum wave heights of 24-26 feet possible today on Lake Superior.

The U.S. National Weather Service has issued gale warnings for Lake Michigan, Lake Superior and Lake Huron that are likely to remain in effect through Friday afternoon, depending on the location.

Sustained winds of 37 knots and wind gusts of 52 knots from the southwest are expected to whip up waves as high as 13-feet on Lake Superior near Ontonagon, MI.  Maximum wave heights may build to as high as 20 feet by this evening evening. Waves will grow larger -- up to 26 feet -- to the east in Eagle River and north near the Canadian border, forecasters say.

There won't be as much wave action on Lake Michigan, where a gale warning is in effect from St. Joseph, MI to Manistee, MI until 4 a.m. Friday. Winds as strong as 40 knots are expected to build waves up to 10 feet today.

The largest waves on Lake Huron will form over the central part of the lake. The warning covers the Saginaw Bay, where waves between 8 and 11 feet are possible. Today's warning also includes offshore waters from the Mackinac Bridge south to Port Sanilac. Forecasters say 14-foot waves are expected, and waves building to 20 feet are possible.


A Final Salute To The Summer Of 2015

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 13, 2015 AT 01:00PM


Happy Veterans Day And Rememberance Day


On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918 Germany signed an armistice with the nations allied against her in World War I to end that horrible conflict.

In the years since that time, Armistice Day has become known as Remembrance Day in Canada and as Veterans Day in the United States.

On November 11th, Canada, the United States and many nations across the world pay tribute to those who have served in their nation's armed forces and in the merchant marine in defense of freedom. 

Please take an additional moment today to give special recognition and thanks to those U.S. and Canadian veterans who have answered the call of duty to defend our freedom.  

To the veterans of the United States and Canada, thanks you for your service, we salute you!  


The 40th Anniversary Of The Sinking Of The Edmund Fitzgerald



Michigan Senate Race Heats Up

FRIDAY, MARCH 7, 2014 AT 11:06AM

When Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) announced that he would not seek reelection this November it signaled the loss of one of the Great Lakes-Seaway System's most senior, and most effective, advocates. Levin, 79, is currently Michigan's senior senator and the six-term Democrat has served longer than any other U.S. Senator in Michigan political history. 

When the Senator Levin announced he wouldn't be seeking re-election early last year, Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI) immediately jumped into the race and very quickly sewed up consensus party nominee status.  Literally overnight, he became the decided general election front runner due to the fact that Michiganders haven't elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate since 1994.

Things got even better for Peters when the Republicans stumbled out of the gate.  Former two-term Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land eventually became the concensus GOP standard-bearer, but she appeared to be a reluctant candidate at first, so much so that the GOP party leadership made no secret of the fact that they were trying to recruit someone who they believed would be a stronger opponent for Peters.  

Putting Michigan into play is extremely important for the Republicans if they are to make a serious run at wresting the majority away from the Democratic Party.

The adroit Peters shrewdly won his last congressional election by jumping into a crowded majority African-American Detroit-area congressional district after redistricting eliminated his previous Oakland County-anchored district when the state lost a seat in national reapportionment.

However, Peters may have backed himself into a bit of a corner at an early stage in the race to succeed Levin.  It is never good when a candidate in any campaign begins trading fire with a person or entity other than his or her opponent; but, that's what the Peters operation has done.  When the subject of the controversy is an individual who has a life-threatening disease, the negative reverberations are even worse.

Julie Boonstra is a long time Michigan resident who is stricken with leukemia.  She claims that the Affordable Care Act has made her healthcare situation worse, for treatment and cost reasons.  The conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity featured Ms. Boonstra in a statewide ad campaign, and Peters' campaign erupted.  They first claimed that her statements about Obamacare had not been verified and attempted to force television stations throughout Michigan to stop airing the ads.  Not surprisingly, AFP has just launched a new statewide ad again featuring Ms. Boonstra, and this time she pleads with Peters to stop attacking her and instead asks for his help.

The ad campaign has put Peters in the difficult position of being in a public relations battle with a cancer patient and while the putative GOP nominee, Land, sits quietly on the sidelines of the battle.  

The 2014 election is the first in Michigan and across the nation to reflect in key ways that Americans are shifting in their attitudes toward marijuana. "This is the first election ever when people with big money are getting involved with pro-marijuana candidates and the ballot issues" to legalize medical marijuana, said Chuck Ream, 67, of Ann Arbor. But the big money is being spent in Florida and other states — not Michigan, said Ream, a retired kindergarten teacher and veteran marijuana activist. While Florida has been the site of multimillion-dollar contributions both for and against a statewide proposal to allow medical marijuana, which is supported by one gubernatorial candidate and opposed by the other, Michigan's campaigns are operating on shoestring budgets, he said.

In several communities, where more than enough voters signed petitions to get marijuana proposals on city ballots, local officials mounted legal challenges and the Safer Michigan Coalition ran out of money to respond in court, said Tim Beck, 62, of Detroit, a retired health insurance executive who bankrolled some legal fees. Despite those setbacks, marijuana proposals will be on ballots in Clare, Frankfort, Harrison, Lapeer, Mt. Pleasant, Onaway, Port Huron and Saginaw. In metro Detroit, proposals will be on ballots in three neighboring cities of southeast Oakland County.

The Compassion Chronicles, an online magazine for users of medical marijuana, last week posted a special edition headed "Michigan's Cannabis Voter Guides." Previous guides have appeared in print but "this is the first attempt I know of to get this on the Internet," said Rick Thompson of Flint, publisher of the Compassion Chronicles. A bill that would let communities choose whether to allow medical marijuana shops, called dispensaries, sponsored by state Rep. Michael Callton, R-Nashville, was overwhelmingly approved by the House in December by a 95-14 vote and could come up for Senate approval in the lame-duck session of the state Legislature this fall, Thompson said.

E commerce sites that are wholesale vapor distributors are keeping their radar alert regarding the election results on the marijuana proposals. Marijuana advocates have been successful in such states as California, and Colorado and medical marijuana dispenceries and vape shops are gearing up.
UPDATE: Multiple, separate initiatives designed to legalize marijuana in Michigan were filed in 2016.

Starting much later than Peters, she has surprisingly exceeded his total fundraising ($3.71 million to $3.46 million).  A new series of independent polls consistently post her to slight leads over the Detroit-area congressman.

What many political observers predicted would be a safe Democratic seat is now quickly becoming one of the most closely-watched Senate races in the country.


Great Lakes Harbor Maintenance Spending Gets $25 Million Increase


Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released its final "Fiscal Year 14 Workplan."

The document provides an outline of how the Corps plans to spend the money appropriated by the Congress for the current fiscal year.

In January, Congressional negotiators agreed to a federal budget for FY2014 that basically funded the amounts requested by the Obama Administration for the Army Corps of Engineers' operations and maintenance programs and added an additional $270 million in much-needed harbor maintenance spending.

Great Lakes commercial harbors were eligible to receive $200 million of the additoinal $270 million.

In early February, Members of the Great Lakes Congressional delegation sent letters to the Corps of Engineers urging that $30 million of the $270 million be set aside for Great Lakes harbors.

In the Corps' FY 2014 Workplan, the Great Lakes received slightly more than $25 million of the additional $270 million appropriated by the Congress.  Of the $25 million in additional funds going to projects in the Great Lakes region, $13.8 will be spent on dredging at 18 American Great Lakes harbors.  An additional $11.2 million will be spent on breakwater and lock repairs.


Deal Reached To Resume Panama Canal Expansion Project

TUESDAY, MARCH 4, 2014 AT 12:19PM

The Panama Canal Authority and a European consortium which is leading the construction effort to expand the international waterway have reached an agreement to complete work on the project that has been stalled over $1.6 billion in cost overruns.

Jorge Quijano, the Administrator of the Panama Canal Authority said in a prepared statement, "We have reached a conceptual agreement that protects the interests of the Panama Canal."

Under the deal, the Panama Canal Authority and European construction consortium, GUPC would each inject $100 million for immediate cash flow needs to fully resume work immediately.

The deal would also extend repayment of advanced payments made by the Panama Canal Authority to the consortium that are worth $784 million until 2018.

Under the terms of the agreement, the European consortium led by Spanish builder, Sacyr, and the Italian firm, Salini Impregilo, will finish the work on the Canal by December 2015.

Work on the expension project has been stopped for more than two-weeks over a dispute has sparked concerns of a long-term delay that might have snarled international shipping and cost the Panama Canal Authority and the Panamanian government millions of dollars in lost toll revenue.  The delay was being closely watched by shipping companies and cargo interests that have been banking on increases in the Panama Canal's capacity to allow larger ships to use the waterway that links the Atlantic and Pacific through a narrow, 50-mile isthmus.


Firms Holds Open House To Discuss Lake Erie Wind Project

Friday, August 23, 2013 at 02:44PM

LEEDCo, a Lake Erie wind energy start-up company, is planning to install six American-made wind turbines in Lake Erie to generate electrity by 2017. The first phase of the project is expected to create as many as 500 temporary jobs and serve as the first step in aneffort to build hundreds, or even thousands, of turbines in the Lake in coming years.

In order to share its plans with the public and receive input from interested parties the company plans to hold an open house from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. today at the Cleveland Convention Center, 300 Lakeside Ave. to unveil the details of its project "Icebreaker" and to ask consumers who support it to sign a "power pledge."

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), and Mayor Frank Jackson will talk about the pledge and LEEDCo president Lorry Wagner and others will be on hand to answer questions about the firm's plans for the future.

LEEDCo is currently funded by a $4 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant and is preparing to compete for a second grant of more than $46 million, to complete the Lake Erie project.  LEEDCo is the only fresh-water off-shore wind turbine project funded by the DOE to date.


Steel Production in Great Lakes Region Slips

Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 04:46PM

According to an estimate produced by the American Iron and Steel Institute, raw steel production in the Great Lakes region of the United States was about 617,000 tons in the week ending Aug. 17.

That figure represents a decline of 37,000 tons or about 5.6 percent compared to the prior week marking the fifth straight week in which steel production declined in the Great Lakes region. Most of the raw steel production in the U.S. Great Lakes region takes place in Indiana and the Chicago area.

Production in the Southern District was estimated at 709,000 tons last week, up from 669,000 tons a week earlier.

Total domestic raw steel production last week was about 1.88 million tons, down from 1.86 million tons the week prior.

U.S. steel mills had a capacity utilization rate of 78.4 percent last week, which is up from 76.3 percent a week earlier. The capacity utilization rate had been 77.7 percent at the same time last year.

So far this year, domestic steel producers have had a capacity utilization rate of 77.1 percent, which is down from 77.8 during the same period in 2012.

Domestic mills have produced an estimated 60.9 million tons of steel this year, down 4.5 percent from the same period last year. The mills had made about 63.8 million tons of steel by Aug. 17 in 2012.

Steel shipments out of U.S. mills fell 3 percent in June, as compared to May. Year-to-date steel imports have dropped by 5.4 percent to 47.4 million net tons.

Hot-rolled sheet shipments fell by 2 percent, while cold-rolled sheet and hot-dipped galvanized sheets and strip all declined by 5 percent.