Port Of Green Bay Holds Contest To Guess Date Of First Ship Arrival
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 www.greenbay.com 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: http://www.wbay.com/story/24792245/2014/02/21/port-of-green-bay-predictions
USCG Warns Navigation Season Opening May Be "Long And Difficult"
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
Transit Restrictions For Seaway Opening Announced
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.