The first ocean-going ship of the season arrived at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor last week, ushering in the international shipping season.
The M/V Irma bulk carrier, a Cyprus-flagged vessel that can haul up to 21,387 tons of cargo, was unloaded by dock workers at the deepwater port on Lake Michigan in Portage and Burns Harbor.
Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor Director Ian Hirt presented the ship’s captain with the ceremonial Steel Stein, as part of a long-running tradition at the port, which handles many steel cargoes and is home to 22 steel companies that lease space there.
“The 2019 St. Lawrence Seaway’s navigation season is officially underway and this year marks the 60th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway,” Hirt said. “Each spring, we look forward to this because the seaway is the binational waterway connecting our port businesses in North America’s heartland to global markets.
About 75 hulking international vessels known as salties make their way every year from the Atlantic Ocean, through the St. Lawrence Seaway in Canada, into the Great Lakes and to the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor.
The port handles a number of cargoes, including steel, limestone, salt, grain, cement and other commodities.
Last year, the port handled 2.7 million tons of cargo, down from 2.8 million tons the previous year. A record 14 million tons have passed through the port over the last five years, the highest total in its 49-year history. It also was the first time in history more than 2.6 million tons passed through the port for five straight years.