The US Army Corps of Engineers St. Paul District announced that the 2021 navigation season through the Mississippi River system was unofficially kicked off a few days ago.
By Michael McGrady, Maritime Direct Americas & Pacific Correspondent
WELCH, Minnesota — The United States Army Corps of Engineers and the corps’ St. Paul District announced the unofficial beginning of the Mississippi River system’s navigation and shipping season for the year of 2021.
According to a press release, MV R. Clayton McWorther pushed 12 cargo barges en route to the Port of St. Paul in Minnesota. On March 19, the vessel was locked through Lock and Dam 3 near the town of Welch. This tow marks the unofficial start to the season, as noted.
The vessel is originated from a river port in the Quad Cities area in Iowa and Illinois.
“The tow is the first vessel of the 2021 navigation season to pass through Lake Pepin. Located between the Minnesota cities of Red Wing and Wabasha, Lake Pepin is the last major barrier for vessels reaching the head of the navigation channel in St. Paul, Minnesota,” notes the Army Corps of Engineers press release.
“The lake is the last part of the river to break up because the river is wider and subsequently the current is slower there than it is at other reaches of the river. If a tow can make it through Lake Pepin, it can make it all the way to St. Paul.”
The Mississippi River system is one of the most important inland waterways systems in all of the United States. According to data, some 6,000 vessels that transit the water system are oceangoing with expected transfers in the Gulf of Mexico and other systems.