Business and Economics

Port of Indiana Sees First Ships of Int’l Shipping Season

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April 17, 2014 — Local waters are welcoming international traffic at a harbor in Portage, Ind. this week.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor opened the 2014 international shipping season with the arrival of the M/V Isolda and the M/V Federal Nakagawa today.

Both ships carried steel from Ijmuiden, Holland, destined for Midwest manufacturers and are being unloaded by local workers from the International Longshoremen’s Association and International Union of Operating Engineers.

“Our port is open year-round to river barges and lake vessels depending upon ice conditions, but the arrival of the first ocean vessel signifies the start of the international shipping season,” says Rick Heimann, port director at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. “The first ships not only bring important cargoes for local businesses and jobs for dockworkers, but also symbolize that Northwest Indiana’s gateway to the world is once again open for business.”

The Cyprus-flagged Isolda, a 653-foot bulk carrier, stopped in Cleveland before coming to the Port of Indiana. The vessel is captained by Arkadiusz Sienkiewicz from Poland and manned by a 23-person crew.

The Federal Nakagawa was built in 2005. The 21-person crew, led by Captain Rizwan Abdullah Mammoo, hails from India and Sri Lanka. The Hong Kong-flagged vessel also stopped in Cleveland, and will next head to Milwaukee.

The vessels sailed together in a three-vessel flotilla through the Straits of Mackinac, maneuvering through still-icy conditions behind the Coast Guard Ice Cutter Hollyhock.

Port officials say Northwest Indiana produces more steel than any other region on the continent and the Port of Indiana is one of the top steel ports in the country.

According to Terence Bowles, president and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Commission, more than 38 million metric tons of cargo is expected to move through the Seaway this year.

“The U.S. and European economies are improving, and this trend gives us reason to be optimistic,” Bowles said.

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor handled 2.5 million tons of cargo in 2013, the highest annual tonnage since 2006 and the second highest since 1998. Shipments were up 17 percent from 2012. Maritime operations at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor generate $4.3 billion per year in economic activity and support 33,000 total jobs.

Each year, officials from the Port of Indiana present the captain of the first ship with “The Steel Stein” which symbolizes Northwest Indiana’s enduring role as the steel capital of North America.

Source: The Ports of Indiana

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