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by Scott A. Sumner

The Port of Thunder Bay welcomed its first ocean-going ‘Salty’ vessel of the 2023 shipping season on Friday, April 7. MV Federal Dart, a five-year-old Marshall Islands flagged bulker berthed  to take on a load of Canadian Wheat. Amid clear skies on Saturday afternoon, with cargo loading operations underway, Captain Anuvarat Arora was bestowed the ceremonial Top Hat by Port Board Director Pat Bushby. Chief Engineer Samit Sachan was also on hand; both crew leaders received gifts of thanks for opening the ocean-going shipping season at Canada’s furthest inland port.

The Seaway route via the Port of Thunder Bay is a critical supply chain link for Canadian grain and potash exports, as well as imports of general and breakbulk cargo such as steel products. Shipping by ocean-going vessel is gaining prominence at the port – Salty visits are up by 43% in the last decade.Rounding out the Top Hat Ceremony, City of Thunder Bay Mayor Ken Boshcoff provided a welcome from the city, while Christeann Hryb of Thunder Bay Shipping offered remarks as the vessel’s local agent. Canon Ed Swayze of the local Mission to Seafarers chapter provided a Seafarers’ blessing.The Federal Dart will sail for the United Kingdom on Sunday.


Tim Heney, CEO Port of Thunder Bay

“The ocean ships are special to us. The Seaway was really built to bring ocean ships to Thunder Bay, the centre of the county being the farthest inland port. Bringing a ship this size all this way it is kind of a magic thing. Every year you can reflect on the system and its capabilities. The salt ships represent 30 to 35 % of our outbound freight but most of the inbound from Europe.”

“ Our start this year is not the earliest but certainly not the latest.We have had the latest in 2014 in May when we had all the ice.”

“ Most of the steel drops are near Chicago for the auto industry and they take back grain from Thunder Bay. This ship is actually owned by a Canadian family in Montreal but registered in Turkey.”

“ Our season looks strong with wheat. We expect 400 ships and about 150 will be saltwater vessels. The Port is the biggest industrial tax base and provides about 900 direct jobs to the city.”

Captain Anuvarat Arora

“ I am really excited about being first salt water ship. We came from Turkey to Duluth first to discharge cement and then to Thunder Bay. We will load wheat here for the United Kingdom.”

“ It was a 25 day journey. The conditions were good here with only a few rough conditions in the Atlantic ocean. From Duluth to Thunder Bay we faced a snow storm in the night. The ship is like a home away from home for all of us.We have a staff of 22.”

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