CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) — With the start of the new Great Lakes shipping season next week, crews at the Soo Locks are getting ready.
The Soo Locks closed for the winter on January 15.
During the ten-week closure, critical maintenance was performed on the structures.
A major part of the winter work season was wrapped up Monday with the rewatering of the Poe Lock.
A lot takes place behind the scenes to get ready for the new shipping season when the Soo Locks reopen on March 25.
On Monday the tug Billmaier started breaking up ice above the Poe Lock so barges could be moved into place. The barges receive stop logs as they are removed from the structure.
Once the second log was lifted from the Poe Lock, water started flowing into the fore bay and lock chamber.
After two logs were removed and water started filling up the Poe Lock divers helped with removing the submerged logs.
The divers are only in the 33-degree water for a few minutes. They are wearing dry suits as they connect the lifting beam to the stop logs.
Divers have helmet cameras, which is critical equipment that gives others a view of the diver under water as they connect a hook to the stop log.
A sure sign of spring and the start of a new shipping season on the St. Mary’s River is the crane barge Harvey floating and ready.
The U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Coast Guard cutters are breaking ice to get ready for the busy season ahead.
Every year, more than 4,500 vessels carrying up to 80 million tons of cargo maneuver through the locks.
Iron ore, coal, wheat and limestone are among the most frequently carried commodities.
Opened in 1969, the Poe Lock is 1,200 feet long. The MacArthur Lock was opened in 1943 and is 800 feet long.