Last Saltie of Season to Leave Port Saturday

The Federal Rhine is expected to be the last saltie of the season is expected to pull out of port on Saturday. The Federal Rhine is expected to be the last saltie of the season is expected to pull out of port on Saturday. |  Photo: Paul Scinocca via Duluth Seaway Port Authority

Updated: December 14, 2018 02:35 PM

The last ocean-going vessel of the 2018 Duluth-Superior shipping season is expected to leave port this weekend.

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The Federal Rhine is expected to depart by mid-afternoon Sunday after loading 21,300 metric tons of durum wheat Friday and Saturday at the CHS elevator in Superior.  The wheat will be shipped to Italy, where it will be milled and made into pasta that might be shipped back to the U.S.

The Duluth Seaway Port Authority said there has been a flurry of grain-loading activity in the Twin Ports over the past several weeks, with 17 salties arriving to load cargoes before the St. Lawrence Seaway closes for the winter at the end of December.  The seaway connects the Great Lakes to the Atlantic Ocean.

The Federal Rhine should be able to clear the seaway well ahead of Christmas.

Port Authority executive director Deb DeLuca said the port is ending the season on a strong note.  While coal loadings have dropped in recent years, grain volume up 22 percent over last year and shipments of Minnesota iron ore outpacing the five-year average.

"With Great Lakes traffic continuing for another month, we anticipate the Port’s overall tonnage tally will top 32 million tons to close out the 2018 shipping season," DeLuca said in a news release.

The Poe Lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., is expected to remain open until January 15, allowing lakers to continue moving bulk shipments from Lake Superior ports to the other Great Lakes.

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