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MV Thunder Bay CSL modernizing its fleet


THUNDER BAY, ON  ---  August 8, 2013 ---   That’s right; Canada Steamship Lines newest ship is named after the city of Thunder Bay. Already it is earning its keep sailing the MV Thunder BayGreat Lakes. Presently the Thunder Bay is docked at Sault St. Marie.

The new ship was built in China and delivered to CSL this year. The ship is flagged in Canada and caries a Canadian crew of 15 – 18.

Here are some of the things that make the trillium class vessels stand out from the rest. They are more fuel efficient. This vessel will save the company on the order of 750 tonnes of fuel each season. At the price of fuel these days that 15% increase in fuel efficiency will allow the vessel to compete more vigorously for shipping contracts in the future.  Not only does the ship consume less fuel it also produces fewer emissions.

While most of the self unloading vessels in the system today are conversions from older bulk carriers CSL has learned from their experience on the Seaway and the ships were designed from the very beginning as self unloading vessels. The self unload rate is about 2500 MT per hour meaning it can turn the ship around in port very quickly, pick up another cargo and be on its way faster than other ships. Many of CLS fleet have hardened hulls and they can deal with a modest amount of ice on their own, also the vessels are now equipped with bow and stern  side thrusters meaning that the ship needs little assistance in making tight turns getting in and out of its berth. Less tug boat work means more money in the bank for CSL.

Many of the ships sailing on the Great Lakes are 50 years old or more and many companies have been reluctant to build more ships for the Seaway. CSL has signaled the rest of the maritime community that it intends to maintain an active presence on the seaway for many years to come. A quick look at this fuel comparison will show you why.

The company calls these vessels Cleaner, Safer, Greener and Smarter.

The company looked at their safety record before ordering these ships and made changes in the design of the vessel to make sure that accidents which happened on their older vessels would not happen on their new vessels. Things like raising the height of the cargo hatched to make it less easy for a person on deck to fall into the hold. The vessel makes extensive use of LED lighting. It is more expensive to put in but the lights last forever and the cost of operating them is much less. They have improved the lighting on all the decks for increased safety. The human aspects of the ship have been enhanced as well. Ergonomic control rooms that is comfortable to be in increase operator efficiency and reduce fatigue on long runs. Clearly a CSL Trillium class vessel will be the choice of sailors on the Great Lakes.

The vessels feature an electronically controlled slow speed diesel producing 8,750 KW of power. This power is transferred to a single variable pitch propeller that produces a very efficient drive for the vessel.

CSL has launched a vigorous program to modernize its fleet with the aim of being one of the best performing maritime companies on the Great Lakes. While it would be nice to see some of these vessels built in Canada the reality is Chinese built vessels are likely further ahead with technology and they have an unbeatable price advantage. No one expects to see shipbuilding on the great lakes rebound any time soon but shipyards such as the one we have here will be kept busy doing repairs on the Chinese built vessels in the years to come.

Bert Rowson

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