Algoma Equinox: New Queen of the Great Lakes

Written by Sandy Williams

If by chance you are celebrating the holidays on the North Coast you may catch a glimpse of the newest lake freighter, the Algoma Equinox as she slides in and out of port on the Great Lakes and its tributaries.

The Algoma Equinox is the newest of a fleet of ships commissioned by Algoma Central Corporation. The lake freighter represents the next generation of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway bulk cargo vessels. Its design innovations improve energy efficiency by 45 percent over Algoma’s current fleet. The new design reduces air emissions by 40 percent, uses less fuel and includes an exhaust gas scrubber that removes 97 percent of all sulphur oxide emissions. It is the first application of an IMO approved integrated scrubber on a Great Lakes – St. Lawrence vessel class.

“We want to do everything we can to operate efficiently and reduce our environmental footprint,” said Algoma Central CEO Greg Wight in an interview by “These new ships will have a very significant impact on that effort.

The ship was designed from the ground up by Algoma Central and Deltamarin and built by the Nantong Mingde Heavy Industries shipyard in Nantong, China. Eight Equinox class vessels are scheduled to be built with Algoma Central investing $300 million for six of the vessels. The other two will be owned by CWB Inc. but operated and managed by Algoma. The investment is part of Algoma Centrals commitment to environmental sustainability. As the new ships are delivered, Algoma will retire older vessels, replacing nearly a third of its 25 ship fleet.

Canadian shipping companies were stymied in their desire to upgrade fleets by a 25 percent import tariff and a lack of Canadian shipyards able to build the required ships. Algoma Central began work on the Equinox project in 2009 in anticipation of removal of the tariff which occurred in Oct. 2010.

The Equinox has a length of 740 feet, breadth of 78 feet, a moulded depth of 31 feet (vertical distance measured from the top of the keel to the top of the freeboard deck beam at side) and a draft of 26.5 feet meters. Built with 6233 tonnes of steel (6870 tons), Equinox has a cargo capacity of 30,000 metric tons (33,068 tons).

In October, the Algoma Equinox began its 14,500 nautical miles voyage home to Port Cartier, Quebec. Along the way the ship dodged three typhoons and left the Philippines just two days before a massive 7.4 earthquake hit the islands. The journey took 31 days including 10 hours passing through the locks in the Panama Canal.

Equinox unloaded its first official cargo at ArcelorMittal Dofasco’s ore dock on Dec. 5.

“We’re quite excited by the start of this new fleet,” said Wight. “These new vessels will be the most efficient on the lakes.”

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