Market Matters Blog

First Saltie of the Duluth-Superior 2024 Grain Shipping Season Arrives

Mary Kennedy
By  Mary Kennedy , DTN Basis Analyst
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The Motor Vessel Barbro G, sailing under the flag of Portugal, arrived in the Duluth Harbor as the first saltie of the season, entering Duluth's Aerial Lift Bridge at 11:44 a.m. April 1. (Photo courtesy Schauer Photo Images)

Motor Vessel (M/V) Barbro G, a 623-foot bulk carrier operated by Sweden's Brochart KB, earned 2024 First Ship honors, completing the season's first full transit of the St. Lawrence Seaway en route to the Great Lakes' westernmost port.

By tradition, this first full transit from the Atlantic Ocean marks the annual opening of the Duluth-Superior Harbor, although the interlake navigation season began with the Poe Lock opening March 22, according to a press release from Duluth Seaway Port Authority.

The Barbro G sailed from Egypt, taking about 1-1/2 months to finally reach the port. She arrived over Easter weekend and waited on the lake until entering the ship canal April 1. She then headed to the Ceres/Riverland Ag terminal on Rice's Point to load approximately 22,000 short tons of durum wheat destined for Algeria, opening the 2024 grain shipping season.

"Despite our recent snowstorm, arrival of the season's first full Seaway transit is a true sign of spring and a reminder of the economic impact these great ships help deliver to our region," said Deb DeLuca, executive

director of Duluth Seaway Port Authority. "We're excited to welcome Barbro G and share our Midwestern wheat cargo with the world via the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System."

Only once previously has the season's first saltie, a common name for visiting ocean-going vessels, arrived on April Fool's Day on April 1, 1995. The M/V Argosy was, at the time, the port's earliest-arriving oceangoing vessel ever, noted the press release.

In 2023, the earliest ocean-going arrival in port history was the Federal Dart, which arrived March 28, 2023. Another record was set when the Canadian-flagged saltie Nordika Desgagnes sailed out of Duluth in the dark of night on Dec. 29, 2023, and into the record book as the Port of Duluth-Superior's latest-departing ocean-going ship on record. "With her departure, it will make the 2023 navigation season Duluth-Superior's longest ever for international traffic (277 days)," said Jayson Hron, director of communication and marketing, Duluth Seaway Port Authority, in December 2023.

Video of Barbro G entering the Duluth Canal on April 1, 2023:…

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