US Department of Transportation’s Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corp (SLSDC) has brought into service its first newbuild US-built ice-handling tug in its 61-year history
Gulf Island Fabricators built US$24M icebreaking tug Seaway Guardian at its shipyard in Houma, Louisiana. It was completed at the end of June and sailed from the Gulf of Mexico, around Florida and up the Atlantic seaboard to Massena, New York, by a Wisconsin-based crew.
Seaway Guardian’s primary missions will be buoy maintenance and ice management on the St Lawrence Seaway. It will also provide an emergency operational response and assist with fire-fighting.
SLSDC ordered this new tug as part of its asset renewal programme to maintain shipping in this vital maritime link to North America’s Great Lakes.
US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao explained the importance of this US$24M tug investment. “The St Lawrence Seaway is important because it provides access for American raw materials, manufactured goods and agricultural products to be exported all over the world,” she said.
“Seaway Guardian, as the first new American-built and American-crewed tugboat to join the SLSDC in 61 years, will be a great addition to the Seaway’s fleet,” Ms Chao added.
Shipping on the Great Lakes-St Lawrence Seaway System generates US$35Bn in economic activity and sustains more than 237,000 jobs annually.
Seaway Guardian will replace 62-year-old Robinson Bay, which SLSDC said would be maintained as a back-up for the foreseeable future.
SLSDC ordered this new tug in 2018. Its keel was laid on 26 June 2018 and the vessel launched on 12 September 2019.
Gulf Island Fabricators president and chief executive Richard Heo said Seaway Guardian completed its sea trials in the Gulf of Mexico in June 2020. It started its delivery voyage to New York state on 2 July.
Gulf Island Fabricators’ shipyard facilities in Houma, Louisiana includes rolling-mill capacity, living-quarters experience, panel-line buildings, large drydocks, large cranes and transporters. It also has shiprepair facilities in Lake Charles and Jennings in Louisiana.
SLSDC said the St Lawrence Seaway stands to see continued growth, following the passage of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement. This agreement between these trade partners keeps most tariffs between the three countries at zero.
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