Chesterton Tribune



Port at Burns Harbor opens salty season; first ships carry foreign steel

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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 Operating Engineers.

“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.”

The Cyprus-flagged 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.

The Federal 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 Hollyhock.

“Each year, 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.



Posted 4/18/2014