Page header image of an ore ship on Lake Superior

Desgagnes departure caps longest international navigation season on record

December 29, 2023

The 𝘕𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘪𝘬𝘢 𝘋𝘦𝘴𝘨𝘢𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘴 departs Duluth on Dec. 29, 2023. Photo by Gus Schauer.
The 𝘕𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘪𝘬𝘢 𝘋𝘦𝘴𝘨𝘢𝘨𝘯𝘦𝘴 departs Duluth on Dec. 29, 2023. Photo by Gus Schauer.

DULUTH, Minn. — The Canadian-flagged Nordika Desgagnes sailed out of Duluth and into the record book tonight as the Port of Duluth-Superior’s latest-departing oceangoing ship on record. Carrying beet pulp pellets destined for Ireland, she eclipsed the port’s previous oceangoing late-departure record set Dec. 23, 1984, by the Federal Calumet, which carried durum wheat bound for France.

Combined with the earliest oceangoing arrival in port history – the Federal Dart arrived March 28, 2023 – the Nordika Desgagnes departure on Dec. 29 makes this navigation season Duluth-Superior’s longest ever for international traffic (277 days).

St. Lawrence Seaway management in November approved its latest seasonal closure ever – Jan. 5, 2024 – which provided extra time for oceangoing vessels to move cargoes through the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System. The Nordika Desgagnes of the Quebec-based Transport Desgagnes fleet was among those vessels, making a late call at Duluth’s Hansen-Mueller Elevator A, before sailing for Ireland.

“In combination with unseasonably warm conditions that slowed ice formation, this December, with its late oceangoing departures, definitely ranks among the more unusual for navigation on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “It helped prolong a late-season grain-shipping rally that is a great gift indeed during this holiday season.”

Note: Intra-lake shipping on the Great Lakes, which began from this port with the Lee A. Tregurtha departure on March 23, 2023, will continue until the Soo Locks’ seasonal maintenance closure, which is scheduled for Jan. 15, 2024.


More than 700 vessels and 30 million short tons of cargo move through the Port of Duluth-Superior each year, making it the Great Lakes’ largest tonnage port and one of the nation’s top 20. The port supports more than 7,000 jobs and contributes $1.3 billion in business revenue to the regional economy. Learn more at