First boat of the season through the Soo Locks

DETROIT – The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces the Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., opened Monday, March 25, marking the beginning of the 2013 Great Lakes shipping season.

The upbound Paul R. Tregurtha was the first ship to enter the Poe Lock at 12:01 a.m. headed from its winter layup in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., to Duluth, Minn., said Bill Campbell, lockmaster at the Soo.

With bundled up spectators watching from the nearby observation deck, the 1,013-foot Tregurtha cleared the Poe at 12:58 a.m. Six vessels passed through the Poe by 9 a.m.

“The annual seasonal opening of the Soo Locks is an important event for the Great Lakes region,” said Lt. Col. Robert J. Ells, district engineer. “The locks serve as a conduit for transporting commodities such as coal, iron ore and grain that energize our nation’s economy. I am pleased the public can witness the impressive spectacle of huge freighters locking through, and I want to thank the hard-working Soo Area Office employees who braved harsh weather to have the locks ready for another busy shipping season.”

The locks were closed on Jan. 15 and underwent routine repairs and maintenance during the winter shutdown. The MacArthur Lock, located beside the Poe, will continue undergoing maintenance for several weeks.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, maintains a navigation system that includes 94 harbors and the Great Lakes connecting channels that join lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie.