Monday 1 October 2018


It’s something I can honestly say I have never heard of before, but you can see in these pics and videos taken by my wife Janice during her trip down to Toronto on September 19th, the 656’ FedNav “saltie” FEDERAL BARENTS is in fact unloading salt at the Port of Johnstown and having just celebrated our 44th Wedding Anniversary, I’d be a fool to doubt her, if you know what mean. 
What can I say, anytime I have snapped a vessel unloading salt at this busy upper St. Lawrence River terminal, it’s been done so by a self unloader, like the RADCLIFFE R. LATIMER ( in April 2015 or BAIE COMEAU, last June. Both times their superstructures were barely visible behind high pyramids of the precious road de-icer on the river’s edge dock courtesy of their onboard conveyor systems that track along the bottom of her V-shaped holds and rolled on a belt to the full length of their extended unloading boom. After about six to eight hours of discharging and the big self unloaders are underway again perhaps heading back to Windsor or Goderich to pick up another load of road salt. Hey, budda-bing budda-boom!!
However the current situation is what it is because of a shortage of Canadian rock salt requiring salt suppliers to seek out overseas producers to ensure that Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec communities have enough salt available before old man winter makes his expected return.

FEDERAL BARENT is the third saltie to discharge her cargo of salt which originated in Chile, the third largest exporter of rock salt in the world which is mined on the Atacama Desert. The fourth largest salt exporter is Canada which is home to the largest salt mine in the world, Sifto Canada which is owned by Compass Minerals in Goderich, Ontario. That mine is as deep as the CN Tower is tall, 1800' under Lake Huron and produces over 7 million tons of salt annually which is distributed along with salt from Morton's mine in Windsor to Canadian and American ports west of Montreal to Duluth while the Seaway and Soo Locks are operating, and Lake Michigan cities like Chicago and Milwaukee until mid February. After all is said and done, there's usually piles of salt leftover to be used during premature winter events in November and early December, however with the continuation of snow and ice storms that occurred in early spring, surplus salt supplies got used up. YIKE!! 😁  And when you combine that with a 11 week strike at the Compass Mineral facility at Goderich that didn't end until mid July, distribution orders are running a bit behind schedule. Since municipalities are ordering more salt because of liability concerns due to another potentially warm winter coming our way that may result in more freezing rain and ice storms, they are given priority over private contractors. Many winter maintenance contractors have already been notified that little or no supplies of salt maybe available to them through normal sources and to consider looking at alternative ice melting products like beet juice, or mixing whatever salt with they get with sand or other materials. DOUBLE YIKES 😁😁 if you live in condo or townhouse complex this winter.

The FEDERAL BARENTS which was built in 2015 at Oshima Ship Building in Oshima Japan, is named after the Barents Sea which is part of the Arctic Ocean and is located off the coasts of Norway and Russia. While owned by Montreal-based  Fednav Limited, the well maintained laker-class dry bulk carrier flies the flag of the Marshall Islands. With six holds, her cargo capacity 34,654 metric tons and unlike the state of the arts CSL Trilliums or Algoma Equinox class of gearless bulk carriers that require unloading be done by dock equipment, the FEDERAL BARENTS is equipped with 4 cranes which allows her to self unload her cargo with her 35 metric ton clamshell shovels as you can see in Janice's pics and this youtube video: While it may take up to 3 days to unload, it is what it is and even though more salt laden salties are expected to visit the Port of Johnstown before the St. Lawrence Seaway closes for the season, it may be wise to play it safe and slowdown when out and about this winter. Picking up an extra bag of deicer or a drum πŸ›’of beet juice at Costco next time you're there maybe a good idea too. Like it's not like it'll go bad, eh 😳

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