The St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation invested $23 million to install the technology in the U.S. Snell and Eisenhower locks.
The U.S. Transportation Department’s St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) announced Thursday that hands-free mooring (HFM) technology has been fully deployed throughout the seaway.
The corporation invested $23 million to install the technology in the U.S. Snell and Eisenhower locks in Massena, N.Y. The project is the first use of HFM technology for an inland waterway, the Transportation Department said, and the SLSDC has prepared its workforce with the skills to implement the system.
The HFM system uses vacuum pads — mounted on vertical rails inside the lock chamber wall to secure the ship during the lockage process as it is raised or lowered while keeping it a fixed distance from the wall — that each provide up to 20 tons of holding force. Releasing the vacuum and retracting the pads is the final step of the lockage operation before the vessel can sail out of the lock.
“This new technology is a significant modernization of the St. Lawrence Seaway’s infrastructure and will enhance workplace safety, lower operating costs for carriers and decrease vessel transit times through the locks,” Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said in a statement.
The number of vessels transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway, which opened in 1959, increased by 7% last year and moved 41 million tons of cargo through the waterway, marking the highest cargo total since 2007.