This saltie’s crew must be sick of seeing Duluth by now

The Federal Mattawa, shown in a port in Ireland.  Port of Greenore

These must be tough times for the crew of the Federal Mattawa, a bulk carrier “saltie” flying under the flag of Liberia.

This morning it lies on this planet at 46.77397 latitude, -92.04684 longitude — the same spot it’s called home since the middle of May. It’s just outside Duluth Harbor with nothing to do and nowhere to go. The crew is having some fun.

It can’t come into Duluth Harbor, the Duluth News Tribune reports, because there’s no grain for it to pick up and take to the rest of the world.

Steve Sydow, operations manager at Daniel Shipping Services, has been assigned to the ship. He said because it hasn’t cleared customs, the crew has not been able to come ashore. The crew is well stocked from its stop in Montreal a month ago.

“They’re not laying around,” Sydow said. They are catching up on sleep lost with the intense navigating through the seaway locks and the ice, he said. They are also doing routine maintenance and housekeeping.

“It’s time they normally wouldn’t get,” Sydow said of the international crew members. “They’re not out on the hatches sunning themselves.”

It may be the latest example of the ripple effect of North Dakota’s Oil Patch dominating freight traffic.

Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth Seaway Port Authority, suspects shipments of grain to the port by rail have been delayed by the oil trains from Canada and North Dakota, which have stalled many other freight operations by rail.

The paper says the crew may find out today if enough grain has arrived at the CHS dock in Superior.

  • Jack Ungerleider

    A guess those of us who prefer to travel Amtrak shouldn’t complain about a measly little 12 hour delay.

  • Kassie

    It would be nice to find a way for the ship to clear customs while it waits and let the crew come on to land and spend some money.

  • MrE85

    I’ll be staying in Duluth for a couple days later this month, with my wife and brother-in-law, a grain farmer from North Dakota. I hope we can see some ships filling with grain by then.