COVID-19 may have forced people to do things differently, but the world hasn’t stopped moving ahead, and global infrastructure projects must continue. We are thrilled that Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) flagged vessels have been at the forefront of such critical work.
On 17 April, the FEDERAL BISCAY, an RMI flagged bulk carrier, was the first sea-going ship (or “saltie”) completing the season’s first full transit of the St. Lawrence Seaway and arrived at the Port of Duluth–Superior in Minnesota (USA). Officials welcomed the FEDERAL BISCAY’s crew with a traditional First Saltie ceremony. Harold Millsap, an RMI Deputy Commissioner of Maritime Affairs was on hand to conduct an annual inspection of the FEDERAL BISCAY, and was invited by the vessel’s captain, Captain Melwyn Dias, to participate in the welcoming celebration with the Duluth Port Authority, local dignitaries, and news media. A gift of a salted-caramel chocolate ship was presented to the 21-member crew of the FEDERAL BISCAY by the Port Authority. Reporters were quick to point out that everyone was masked and that social distancing protocols were enthusiastically embraced.
The FEDERAL BISCAY, owned by Montreal-based Fednav, arrived from Turkey carrying 21,000 metric tons of cement. The local newspaper, Business North, reported that the FEDERAL BISCAY is the first of six international ships this season bringing cement to be used in transportation infrastructure projects around the Midwest and as far away as Edmonton, Alberta (Canada).
A native of India, Captain Dias reported the voyage halfway around the world couldn’t have gone more smoothly. Though he’d been to Duluth once before, also bringing cement, he’d never been part of a first-ship ceremony, he said, noting that his father and grandfather both helmed ships. “A lot of generations of us have been doing this profession,” Dias told the Duluth News Tribune.
Throughout the pandemic, RMI as a flag State and its owners and operators, have been at the forefront of progress. Advances in sustainability and technology, some of which the industry had never seriously considered previously, have been realized and embraced.