The Port Opening of Navigation
‘Top Hat’ & Luncheon Ceremony
The 2019 navigation season has officially begun in the Port of Thunder Bay with the arrival of two vessels on Thursday, March 28. MV Kaministiqua arrived at 08:00 Thursday morning to take the Top Hat title, an honour bestowed upon the first vessel to transit Lake Superior and arrive in the Port of Thunder Bay to open the shipping season. MV Algoma Sault arrived in port Thursday evening.
Kaministiqua is a ‘regular’ vessel to Thunder Bay, shipping grain to ports in the Lower Lakes and to ports in the Lower St.Lawrence for transshipment to ocean carriers. Despite visiting Thunder Bay more than a dozen times annually for the last several years, this is Kaministiqua’s first Top Hat.
The vessel, owned by Lower Lakes Towing, berthed at Richardson’s Current River elevator Thursday and will depart to Port Cartier with a load of grain. In a Top Hat Ceremony held aboard the vessel, Captain Scott Mogelin and Chief Engineer George Michailopolous were recognized by representatives from Port of Thunder Bay, the City of Thunder Bay and the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.
Lower Lakes Towing carries a quarter of all Laker grain shipments from Thunder Bay. The company’s vessels have received the Top Hat four of the past five years. Lower Lakes Towing President Aaron Degodney was Guest Speaker at the annual Opening of Navigation Luncheon next Thursday, April 4.
“ It is great to be first and see old friends and this is a great elevator, system and the Port of Thunder Bay is a good place to be.Whitefish Bay is pretty sticky this year and we got stuck there a extra day. We are picking up 25,200 Metric tonnes. The last ship to Thunder Bay was January 13th.”
“ The shipping community is a tight community. My job ends when the ship is docked. We pump our ballast out and get ready for grain. Last year we did 19 trips to Thunder Bay from Sorel, Quebec.The Top Hat is a rare award that I will probably never get again.”
Tim Heney, CEO
“ It is a celebration of the 60th anniversary year of the seaway system this year. The seaway system is the biggest waterway in the world and the biggest engineering achievement in Canadian History built over 4 years.”
“It’s an exciting time for us to see the system open again. The system is very reliable and safe. We have been pretty consistent the last 5 years at about 9 million metric tonnes. Thunder Bay is the second largest grain port in Canada and has increased about 25% recently after the wheat board change.”
“ There are 8 operating grain elevators in Thunder Bay and we have the largest storage and handling capacity in Canada. There are about 400 ships a year here including 102 ocean ships. This year we are building a new $15 million building project to add to our storage capacity.”
“ The marine industry has a lot of tradition and the top hat ceremony is one of them.”