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Ice in St. Lawrence Seaway delays shipping season at Port of Oswego

Gino Geruntino
A ship docks near the Port of Oswego office.

The Port of Oswego is expecting its shipping season to be delayed until next week, because of ice floes slowing down Great Lakes freighters coming through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Executive Director Zelko Kirincich says the shipping season was scheduled to begin April 11, but a large amount of thick ice along the seaway forced the Canadian Coast Guard to send out ice breakers to reopen shipping lanes earlier this week.

"We didn't anticipate it being this bad," Kirincich said. "It was envisioned that the ice would melt. All the projections by all the experts that we talked to, the ice was supposed to - supposed to - melt a lot quicker. And it didn't. It lingered."

Credit Gino Geruntino / WRVO
Grain is being poured at the Port of Oswego.

The result is that more ships will be delivering inventory over a shorter period of time.

"Our performance is going to be critical on these ships," Kirincich said. Our unloading performance is going to be critical. Something that we're practicing right now is to make sure that we unload these ships and these barges quickly, so they can go back and recycle. The quicker we unload, the quicker they can go back. So every hour is going to count."

He says they are bringing in extra equipment to help them unload and turn the ships around quickly. Kirincich says that so far companies that rely on the port for shipments of their inventory have not been hurt by the delays.

Last year, the port unloaded ships up until the Christmas holiday. Kirincich says he is hoping for the weather to remain good for the rest of the season, so they can receive products as late as possible.