JUNE 12, 2012 — Maersk Illinois last month became became the first American-flag ship to load cargo in the Port of Milwaukee for an overseas destination in more than 30 years.. The U.S. flag multipurpose vessel with heavy lift cranes was used for the shipment of two P&H rope shovels, financed by the U.S. Export-Import Bank. It required the U.S.-flag vessel to carry nearly 8,000 cubic meters of machinery bound for a Siberian mining project.
According to the port's spokesman, Jeff Fleming, Maersk Illinois is the first U.S. flag vessel since 1981 to arrive in Milwaukee by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway, marking an achievement of historic significance. "A U.S. flagged vessel hasn't carried cargo out of the Port of Milwaukee for decades," Mr. Fleming said.
Maersk Illinois's navigation of the St. Lawrence Seaway demonstrated its versatility and flexibility.
"The loading in Milwaukee simplified the logistics of an otherwise complicated move, and it has served to demonstrate the value of our service to U.S. exporters," noted Dave Harriss, Director of Ship Management and Chartering at Maersk Line, Limited.
The mining shovels aboard the Maersk Illinois are part of an ongoing relationship between Milwaukee-based P&H and Joy Global with the Russian Federation's coal industry. A third shovel is slated for transport from Milwaukee in September, to be carried by the same vessel or its twin, the Maersk Texas.
Maersk Illinois and Maersk Texas make up Maersk-Rickmers U.S. Flag Project Carrier, or Maersk-Rickmers for short.
Maersk-Rickmers is a partnership between Maersk Line, Limited and Rickmers-Linie (America), Inc., and it combines the capabilities of both companies to form a reliable global carrier for large and heavy cargo. The newly-built 19,592 dwt vessels support Maersk-Rickmers' worldwide breakbulk and project cargo shipping operations.
Maersk Illinois came under the U.S. flag in December 2011, completing two voyages to West Africa before its current journey. Thereafter, she will carry commercial cargo to the Middle East.
She departed Milwaukee on June 5, and the voyage from Milwaukee to Russia's west coast is expected to take approximately two weeks. On arrival, the shovels will be loaded onto rail cars to complete their journey to the Kuzbass coal mine in western Siberia.