Welland Canal opens

Navigation season along the St. Lawrence Seaway kicks off Monday, tying a record set in 2007 for the earliest opening date.

Parts of the Seaway have been given millions of dollars in upgrades and as Jeyan Jeganathan reports, moving a massive cargo ship through the lock system can now be done with the click of a mouse.

This past winter parts of the Welland Canal were fitted with three double-pad mooring units. It’s part of a $100 million upgrade. Using suction, the pads stick to ships as they travel from one lock to the other.

As the water level in the lock is raised or lowered, the pads move with the ship keeping the vessel in place and it is all controlled here at the Seaway’s new control room in St. Catharines.

In the past, the ships were tied down with steel wires. There have been cases where the steel lines have even snapped.

According to Cassie Kelly from St. Lawrence Seaway, “It is a fairly risky business. You’ve got the steel lines coming out of the vessel at a certain speed and this ends up being a much safer operation.”

The seaway stretches 37 hundred kilometres and runs from the mouth of the St. Lawerence River, passing through 15 locks and 5 great lakes.

Approximately 160 million tonnes of cargo travels through the seaway every year. The seaway has also rebuilt the tie-up wall near lock 3.

Seaway officials say the hands free mooring system will be completed this year.

The shipping season will kick off with a top hat ceremony on Monday, where the Captain of the First Upbound Ship will be welcomed.


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