The Twin Ports maritime industry celebrated National Maritime Day Wednesday with a lunchtime event at the Boat Club Restaurant in Duluth.
Tom Rayburn, director of environmental and regulatory affairs for the Lake Carriers’ Association was the keynote speaker.
The date of May 22 was chosen for an annual maritime celebration to mark the date of the first transatlantic steamship voyage, the 1819 journey of the SS Savannah. President Donald Trump’s proclamation of National Maritime Day this year said: “We honor the men and women who, throughout our history, have served with professionalism, dedication, and patriotism in the United States Merchant Marine. We recognize these seafaring merchant mariners for helping to fuel our economy, maintain our sea power, and support our national security. We recognize these seafaring merchant mariners for helping to fuel our economy, maintain our sea power, and support our national security. During times of war, merchant mariners courageously sail into combat zones to provide sealift for the Department of Defense, carrying weapons and supplies to America’s fighting forces. In every conflict, United States citizen mariners have answered the call to duty and risked their lives. Some have sadly made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.”
Along with the ceremonies and remembrances for the area merchant marines, there was the 17thpresentation of the Robert J. Lewis Pacesetter Award from the U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation to the Port of Duluth-Superior. The 2018 award salutes Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System ports that registered international cargo tonnage increases during the 2018 shipping season.
Duluth Seaway Port Authority Executive Director Deb DeLuca accepted the honor on behalf of the Port of Duluth-Superior, which last season registered an 11.5 percent season-over-season gain in international tonnage shipped. The increase was driven primarily by a 19 percent jump in grain tonnage.
“In terms of total tonnage, the 2018 season was Duluth-Superior’s best since 2014, so it was a solid season overall,” said DeLuca. “International shipping, the Pacesetter Award criterion, certainly played a role in that 2018 success, with a slight uptick in the number of international vessels and a double-digit increase in the percentage of international tonnage shipped through the Port.”