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International Transport Forum Recognizes Innovative Hands-Free Mooring

Cornwall, Ontario (May 22, 2015) – The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced today that it will receive a prestigious award from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) for developing the world’s first Hands-Free Mooring (HFM) system for ships transiting its locks. The Promising Innovation in Transport Award is offered by the International Transport Forum at the OECD, an intergovernmental organization for the transport sector, with 54 member countries. It will be presented on May 28th in Leipzig, Germany, during the 2015 Summit of Transport Ministers.

The SLSMC will receive the award in the freight category for its pioneering work, with the aid of its supplier Cavotec.  The St. Lawrence Seaway’s 15 locks serve to lift ships a total of 168 meters (551 feet) as they transit from Montreal to Lake Erie. The HFM system employs vacuum pads mounted on vertical rails to secure the ship during the lockage process, tracking the ship as it is raised or lowered, while keeping it at a fixed distance from the lock wall.

With this equipment, the SLSMC will replace the traditional practice of manually securing cargo ships in locks with steel mooring lines, which is time consuming, labour intensive and potentially dangerous if a line breaks. This revised method of processing ships enables the SLSMC to orchestrate gains in operating efficiency and safety.

Full deployment of HFM at all high-lift locks is slated to be complete in 2018.


The Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport – “With the creation of the world’s first Hands-Free Mooring system for movement of ships through locks, I am proud to say that The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation is truly a world leader in marine technology. I am pleased to congratulate The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation on this prestigious award.”

Terence Bowles, President and CEO, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation – “Seaway employees have demonstrated an innovative spirit that is essential to success in today’s global economy.  With strong support from a wide variety of stakeholders, including Transport Canada who partnered with us in providing funding for the modernization project, we are setting the stage for a thoroughly modern lock operating system, which will ensure the Seaway’s future competitiveness and sustainability.”

Selection Jury, International Transport Forum at the OECD – “The Hands-Free Mooring Technology is innovative, and has the potential to bring growth to the marine sector.”

Stephen Brooks, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce – “We would like to congratulate The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation on this tremendous accolade.  This kind of innovation is absolutely essential to increasing the competitiveness of North American industries that use our marine transportation systems. The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation has a long history of working with ship operators to bring in advanced technologies, and this is another example of its efforts to stay ahead of the curve.”

Quick Facts:

  • The Great Lakes / Seaway System is a “marine highway” that extends some 3,700 km from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes. Approximately 160 million tonnes of cargo travels over the combined Great Lakes / Seaway System on an annual basis, supporting over 227,000 jobs and $35 billion in economic activity.
  • The binational St. Lawrence Seaway serves as the linchpin within the Great Lakes / Seaway System, connecting the lower St. Lawrence River to the Great Lakes.  Beginning in Montreal and extending to points west, the Seaway’s 15 locks (13 Canadian and 2 U.S.) enable ships to climb a total of 168 metres from “sea level” up to Lake Erie. For more information on the St. Lawrence Seaway, please consult the website.

About the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation:

  • The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation was established in 1998 as a not-for-profit corporation by the Government of Canada, Seaway users and other key stakeholders. In accordance with provisions of the Canada Marine Act, the Corporation manages and operates the Canadian assets of the St. Lawrence Seaway, which remain the property of the Government of Canada, under a long-term agreement with Transport Canada.