Duluth: In a rite comparable to the first cuckoo of spring, the first laker of the new Twin Ports shipping season took to the waters of Lake Superior on Monday afternoon.
The self-unloading bulk freighter John G Munson (26,011 dwt, built 1952) set off from the Twin Ports of Duluth–Superior (in Minnesota and Wisconsin) headed for Gary, Indiana, carrying 57,000 tons of iron ore pellets to be made into steel.
Lakers are a unique type of vessel built to handle Great Lakes cargo, capable of carrying up to 70,000 tons (70,966 tonnes) of iron ore or 1,700,00 bushels (45,552.5 tonnes) of grain in one trip.
Back in January the Munson had been the last laker to come in before ice cover took over. It wintered in Superior at the Fraser Shipyards.
Duluth Seaway Port Authority said on Monday that Lake Superior looked clear from the Twin Ports but there was still a significant amount of ice cover on the eastern edge of the lake.
Giant laker the Mesabi Miner (64,457 dwt, built 1977) was scheduled to leave the Superior Midwest Energy Terminal on Monday night with about 57,000 tons of coal heading up the North Shore for Taconite Harbor, Minnesota.