The Port of
Indiana-Burns Harbor opened the 2014 international shipping season on
Thursday with the arrival of the M/V Isolda and the M/V Federal Nakagawa.
Both ships carried
steel from Ijmuiden, Holland, destined for Midwest manufacturers and were
being unloaded by port stevedore Federal Marine Terminals with local workers
from the International Longshoremen's Association and International Union of
“Our port is open
year-round to river barges and lake vessels depending upon ice conditions,
but the arrival of the first ocean vessel signifies the start of the
international shipping season,” Rick Heimann, port director at the Port of
Indiana-Burns Harbor, said in a statement released on Thursday. “The first
ships not only bring important cargoes for local businesses and jobs for
dockworkers, but also symbolize that Northwest Indiana's gateway to the
world is once again open for business.”
Isolda, a 653-foot bulk carrier built in 1999, stopped in Cleveland before
coming to the Port of Indiana. The vessel is skippered by Capt. Arkadiusz
Sienkiewicz from Poland and manned by a 23-person crew. The Isolda was also
the first ship of the season in 2007.
Nakagawa was built in 2005. The 21-person crew, led by Capt. Rizwan Abdullah
Mammoo, hails from India and Sri Lanka. The Hong Kong-flagged vessel also
stopped in Cleveland and will next head to Milwaukee.
The vessels sailed
together in a three-vessel flotilla through the Straits of Mackinac,
maneuvering through still-icy conditions behind the Coast Guard Ice Cutter
officials from the Port of Indiana present the captain of the first ship
with ‘The Steel Stein,’ which symbolizes Northwest Indiana's enduring role
as the steel capital of North America,” the statement said. “Northwest
Indiana produces more steel than any other region on the continent and the
Port of Indiana is recognized as one of the top steel ports in the country.”
The St. Lawrence
Seaway, in the meantime, opened its locks to ocean vessels for the 56th
international shipping season on March 28 after closing in late December.
According to Terence Bowles, president and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway
Management Commission, more than 38 million metric tons of cargo is expected
to move through the Seaway this year. “The U.S. and European economies are
improving, and this trend gives us reason to be optimistic,” Bowles said.
The Port of
Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 2.5 million tons of cargo in 2013, the highest
annual tonnage since 2006 and the second highest since 1998. Shipments were
up 17 percent from 2012. Maritime operations at the Port of Indiana-Burns
Harbor generate $4.3 billion per year in economic activity and support
33,000 total jobs.