The 453 foot Antigua ship "Diana" was destined to be the first "saltie" to enter the Duluth Harbor for the 2014 shipping season. Her entry, like much of the shipping season, has been delayed due to ice.

Courtesy: Duluth Seaway Port Authority

The Diana, which sails under the flag of Antigua, was destined to be historic for the Duluth Port. Her arrival, which was originally scheduled for 8 am and then moved to 8 pm Wednesday, was set to mark the latest arrival of the first "saltie" to the Twin Ports ever. This late start to the season is, of course, due to thick ice on much of the Great Lakes.

Before the Diana's May 7 arrival, the latest arrival of a "saltie" to the Twin Ports was May 3, 1959. The Ramon de Larrinaga arrived in Duluth on that date in 1959 as the very first saltie to have traveled the St. Lawrence Seaway after the waterway opened that year.

Strong east winds for the past several days have blown in a thick, slushy stew of ice into the bay. Accompanying the slush are chunks of ice that vary in size from 1 foot to over 50 feet across. The combination of ice and slush brought the Diana to a halt and led to the dispatch of two tugboats to aid her into the harbor around 8 pm Wednesday night.

At about 9:45 pm, the Walter J. McCarthy Jr., a 1,000 foot laker, pushed ahead of the Diana in an attempt to open a channel in the slushy ice for the ocean-going ship. The McCarthy was forced to stop for a time just in front of the Diana because the 1,000 foot ship was unable to turn in the slush in order to enter the canal. After some maneuvering, the McCarthy was able to enter the canal, and the Diana also made her entry just before midnight on May 7. After entering the canal, the Diana headed to the CHS elevator in Superior to pick up a load of 11,550 metric tons of grain before leaving the Twin Ports to make a trip for Algeria.

In the photo below: waiting off in the distance is the Dutch ship, the Zealand Delilah, the second saltie destined for Duluth to collect a load of grain. Of the two ships in the foreground, the Diana is on the left, and the McCarthy is on the right, making its way in front of the ocean-going vessel to open a channel in the ice.

Nick Cooper - TSM Duluth