Great Lakes operating season starts

Written by Marine Log Staff
Great Lakes bulk carrier kicks off Great Lakes operating season

The Poe Lock is 110 feet wide and the Edwin H. Gott is 105 feet wide, making for a tight fit as she kicked off the Great Lakes operating season. [USACE photograph]

The Great Lakes shipping season is underway after the 1,004 foot long Great Lakes bulker Edwin H. Gott made her way into the Poe Lock, kicking off the 2023 navigation season at midnight this past Saturday. The Poe Lock is 110 feet wide and the Gott is 105 feet wide, making for a tight fit. The first ocean going vessel, the Federal Dart, flying under the flag of the Marshall Islands, went through the Soo Locks Monday, assisted through the lock by the U.S. Coast Guard icebreaking tug Neah Bay.

The Great Lakes operating season is fixed by federal regulation and driven in part by the feasibility of vessels operating in typical Great Lakes ice conditions.

The Poe Lock closed January 16 to undergo critical repairs and maintenance during the 10 week-long winter shutdown. Maintenance crews performed a variety of critical tasks on the Poe Lock, including Gate 1 anchorage component repairs such as replacing concrete, Gate 1 lifting lugs and turning feet, underfloor drain system inspection, Gate 1 structural inspection for future replacement, Gate 3 inspection for structural repairs, gate jacking pedestal inspections, valve repairs, Gate 3 seal repairs and culvert intake grate repairs. The (miter) gates are the large gates at each end of the lock chamber. The gates open and close allowing ships to enter and leave the lock and prevent water from entering or exiting the lock while boats are lifted or lowered.

“Crews also performed a wide range of other maintenance tasks including fender timber replacements, electrical and mechanical systems inspections, and preventative maintenance on both the Poe and MacArthur Locks and floating plant maintenance,” said USACE maintenance branch chief Nick Pettit said.

Contractors also performed work on the Poe Lock ship arrestor project. OCCI of Missouri, was awarded the contract in July 2021, for $17.5 million after awarded options. This winter, OCCI completed the new downstream arrestor equipment buildings, installed the new arrestor machinery and replaced the arrestor boom.

“This winter a portion of maintenance projects on Gate 1 required the Poe Lock to remain full while others required the lock to be dewatered,” Pettit said. “Sequencing Poe Lock maintenance/repairs allowed our team to maximize the non-navigation season.”

The MacArthur Lock, located south of the Poe, is scheduled to open April 24.

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