Chesterton Tribune



First ocean vessel of year brings cargo of wind turbines to Port of IndianaBH

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The first ocean-going vessel of the season docked at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor on Monday, thereby opening the 2020 international shipping season.

The M/V Muntgracht, a 466-foot general cargo carrier, arrived following a five-day voyage through the St. Lawrence Seaway to the deepwater port on Lake Michigan.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ceremonial Steel Stein ceremony, a long-running tradition at the port, was canceled.

The Muntgracht is loaded with 1,650 tons of wind turbine hubs and nacelles shipped from Bilbao, Spain, which will be unloaded by port stevedore Federal Marine Terminals. The Netherlands-flagged Muntgracht will then sail to Thunder Bay Port in Canada for its next load bound for Europe.

“The arrival of the first international ship of the year is always an exciting time as it signifies the prosperity the vessels help to deliver to our region,” Port Director Ian Hirt said. “While we can’t celebrate in our traditional way, we are grateful for the commitment of our international partners to help deliver important cargo and products to global markets.”

Hirt expects approximately 75 international vessels this year, a significant increase over 2019, with most of the additional cargos energy-related. “Many of the components for the natural gas-powered electrical plants and the wind turbines are made internationally,” Hirt noted. “As the Midwest pivots from coal to natural gas and renewable energy sources, it makes sense for our port to handle the large-dimensional cargo and transload to a nearby final destination.”

Martime operations at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor generate nearly $4.9 billion per year in economic activity and support more than 39,000 jobs. The port handled nearly 2.6 million tons of cargo in 2019, a 6-percent decrease from 2018, due in part to high water levels and trade uncertainty.

The St. Lawrence Seaway opened its locks to ocean vessels on April 1, approximately a 10-day delay in an effort to alleviate water levels on Lake Ontario.



Posted 4/14/2020




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