Kate Ferguson, director of trade and business development for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, counted the port blessing from last year and this season during the annual Blessing of the Port ceremony, hosted Thursday by the Twin Ports Ministry to Seafarers in the Lake Superior Maritime Visitor Center.
Noting how the 2019 season is shaping up so far, she said, “It looks strong,” and mentioned the arrival earlier in the day of the Happy River, a Netherlands flagged vessel carrying wind towers. “It’s going to be here a lot this year,” Ferguson said.
Last year proved to be very healthy for the Twin Ports, she added, with 36 million short tons shipped out in total, the highest volume of iron ore since 1995. Also last year, the port sent out its first shipment of soy beans since 2007 and appointed the first woman to the helm with the promotion of Deb DeLuca to executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority.
Among other upcoming notables for the Port, she mentioned the pending change of command for the U.S. Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Duluth with Commander Erin E. Williams to be replaced by another woman commander. And this year, a $447,750 port security grant will fund a new hazard response vessel for the Duluth Fire Department.
On the local horizon, said Ferguson, are the 2021 move of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority into the Seaway Building on Rice’s Point and continued talks of cruise ships coming across Lake Superior.
The blessing ceremony, with slightly more than a dozen in attendance, continued with ministers from several local congregations that are on the Seafarers Ministry board and featured the premier of an original song “Anthem for All Sailors,” written and performed on electric piano by Jackie Ranco along with two singers.
The Rev. Doug Paulson noted in his remarks that a boat-loving friend of his came away with a more global perspective after attending a previous port blessing.
“It was here that her eyes were opened to a bigger picture,” he said, pointing to the blessing included for vessels, vessel crews, dock workers, the countries from which the ships hail and basically everything from the Port Authority to the pest control connected to the maritime industry. The port, he said, “is more than watching big boats go under the bridge.”