Port of Thunder Bay Open for the 2020 Season

The King of the Waters breaking ice in Thunder Bay on December 22 2017 - Photo by LT Kubasch USCG
The King of the Waters breaking ice in Thunder Bay on December 22 2017 - Photo by LT Kubasch USCG

THUNDER BAY – Icebreaking efforts in the Port of Thunder Bay have started. The 2020 Shipping Season is also now underway.

The Huron Spirit - stock image
The Huron Spirit – stock image

For the first time on record, a tug and barge have opened the Port of Thunder Bay shipping season.  The 2020 navigation season officially began with the arrival of the Tug Sharon M1 and Barge Huron Spirit on Thursday evening.  The vessel combination came abeam of the Mission Pier entrance at 21:30 March 26, 2020.

Owned and operated by Burlington, Ontario-based McKeil Marine, the tug-barge discharged overnight approximately 5,000 metric tonnes of Calcium Chloride brine solution at Pollard Highway Products (Trillium Distribution) on the Kaministiquia River.  The product is used in the Thunder Bay region as a road stabilizer and dust suppressant.

The McKeil fleet, which has recently expanded and grown its presence in the port, has garnered the Top Hat Honour for the first time with the earliest ship to arrive in Thunder Bay after the spring opening of the Soo Locks.  It also marks the first Top Hat cargo discharge to take place at the Trillium Distribution facility.

Thunder Bay’s Top Hat honour is usually captured by a bulk vessel taking on its first grain shipment of the season; this was nearly the case again: the bulker Algoma Sault arrived in port for grain just hours after the Sharon M1/Huron Spirit.  Another bulker that wintered in Thunder Bay, CSL Welland, has also departed the port with a cargo of grain.

Captain Ray Davis and Chief Engineer Vladimir Lats receive this year’s Top Hat honours, although there will be no ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic.