About $487 million will be spent modernizing the Saint Lawrence Seaway over the next five years by government agencies in Canada and the U.S.
Some of the money will be spent on a new mooring system that will use vacuum pads instead of ropes to secure ships as they transit locks on the canal.
Canada’s Saint Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. will invest $395 million between 2014 and 2018 to revitalize its locks and structures. Likewise, the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation is mounting a $92 million effort over a comparable timeframe.
"hands-free" mooring system
The Seaway will install a “hands-free” mooring system that will allow ships to be secured in locks using vacuum pads instead of wire or rope mooring lines.
The system is made by Switzerland-based Cavotec, which said it will manufacture and deliver 39 MoorMaster™ MM400L (Lock) units for 13 locks, and related rail structures on which the units will be mounted. Cavotec engineers will also oversee delivery, installation and commissioning of the units. Deliveries are scheduled to run until the end of 2016.
Cavotec said the order for the Seaway is the largest to date for the MoorMaster™ product, and one of the biggest projects in the history of Cavotec.
Cavotec said that several MoorMaster™ units have been in operation at the Seaway for a number of years. These specially adapted units hold vessels securely through variations in water level of up to 14 meters. The Saint Lawrence is the world's first inland waterway to introduce automated mooring.
The vacuum pads attach themselves to the side of a ship, holding it in place, then slide up and down on rails as the water level in the locks rise or fall. There are three of the pads in each lock.
“With the implementation of Cavotec's equipment, we are looking forward to welcoming more Seaway-sized vessels from the world's fleet, as vessel operators will no longer need to equip their ships with certain Seaway specific fittings. This will increase our access to the global fleet. Easing access to the Seaway carries the prospect of bringing more tonnage into our locks," said Bruce Hodgson, director of market development for the Saint Lawrence Seaway Management Corp.
The Seaway has 15 locks, 13 in Canada and two in the United States.
The Seaway opened its 56th navigation season last week with the transit of Algoma Central Corporation’s newly built ship, the Algoma Equinox
, through Lock 3 of the Welland Canal. The vessel is the first of eight Equinox-class ships that are being built for trade in the Seaway.
“The Algoma Equinox
carries more cargo, sails faster, consumes significantly less fuel and is the first Great Lakes vessel to be equipped with a scrubbing system that virtually eliminates sulfur oxide from its emissions. These advancements will benefit communities throughout the region and also ensure that our customers -- North American industries and farmers -- remain competitive on the global stage,” said Algoma Central President and Chief Executive Officer Greg Wight.
Algoma Central is headquartered in St. Catharines, Ontario.