DULUTH, Minn. – The first oceangoing vessel of 2020 is scheduled to arrive in the Port of Duluth-Superior tonight at approximately 8 p.m.
Federal Churchill, a 656-foot ice-class bulk carrier owned by Montréal-based Fednav, will earn the First Ship distinction, completing the season’s first full transit of the St. Lawrence Seaway en route to the Great Lakes’ westernmost port.
Upon arrival in Duluth, Federal Churchill will visit the Riverland Ag terminal to load approximately 23,000 short tons of durum wheat destined for Italy.
“Since the arrival of the first First Ship after the Seaway’s opening in 1959, generations of people in the Twin Ports have gathered to celebrate the first saltie sailing in, a true sign of spring and also of the prosperity these great ships help deliver to our region,” said Deb DeLuca, executive director of the Duluth Seaway Port Authority. “This year, under the cloud of COVID-19, we can’t gather together in our usual ways, but we can still celebrate a sign of brighter days to come, and a cargo from our region that will help bring sustenance and hope to the people of Italy.”
Due to COVID-19 precautions, the annual First Ship celebration event will not be held this year, however, a fixture of the celebration – the First Ship contest, co-sponsored by Visit Duluth and the Duluth Seaway Port Authority – will crown a winner from more than 2,000 entries based on the official arrival time of Federal Churchill.
“Normally, this is the first sign of spring, and the excitement of the summer is right around the corner, unfortunately this year we are celebrating these signs in a different way,” said Duluth Mayor Emily Larson. “It’s amazing that even in an international pandemic, the Port Authority, and their partners are still hard at work helping to ship important products across the world.”
The first saltie’s arrival each season is a reminder that the Port of Duluth-Superior is truly Mid-America’s gateway to the world. Situated 2,342 miles inland from the Atlantic Ocean, Duluth-Superior is the Great Lakes’ top tonnage port and one of the nation’s top 20. It links North America’s heartland to regional and overseas markets, enabling producers and cargo owners to serve and compete in the global marketplace.
Riverland Ag, owned by Minnesota-based Ceres Global Ag Corp., is an agricultural grain storage and supply business. The company operates 14 grain storage facilities in Minnesota, North Dakota, Wyoming, New York, Wisconsin and Ontario.
Founded more than 75 years ago, Fednav Limited is Canada’s largest oceangoing bulk shipping company. Fednav’s fleet consists of more than 120 bulk carriers. Fednav also operates 11 marine terminals in North America.
Federal Churchill is flying under the flag of the Marshall Islands and is captained by Arnab Roy of India. The ship was built in 2016 by Oshima Shipbuilding in Japan.
Historical Note: The latest arrival of the Port’s first saltie was May 7, 2014 (Diana). The earliest was March 30, 2013 (Federal Hunter).
Approximately 800 vessels and 35 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 8,000 jobs and contributes $1.4 billion in business revenue to the regional economy. Learn more at DuluthPort.com.