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Soo Locks Opens for the 2019 Shipping Season

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit Districts Post|

The Soo Locks opened Monday and the 2019 shipping season has officially begun.


The first ship passed through the Soo Locks at 12:01 on Monday morning. The community came out to celebrate the start of shipping season and awarded the first vessel with a plaque and commemorative gifts.


Jeff Harrington is with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operate the locks. He said the first vessel locking through is an exciting time, even if it happens early in the morning


“We are always excited to open and part of that excitement is in honor of the first vessel here. We do have an important mission that we serve, we serve our customers. We are always excited to see the vessel arrive. Sometimes that is at 12:01 or sometimes that is later in the day.”


Over the past few months, Soo Locks have been preparing for the 2019 season by welding, repairing, and cleaning before the first freighters arrived.


The locks are ready to go after their repairs, but conditions are still icy which may cause problems for shippers.


Harrington said the Coast Guard helped clear out some of the ice but certain areas are still frozen.


“In Lake Superior, we’ve got lots of ice in the WhiteFish Bay Area, there is also lots of ice in the Duluth Area, and in some of the northern harbors there is lots of ice there.”


Harrington said the Coast Guard is out on rivers and lakes, assisting vessels sailing through the icy conditions.