Indiana Sees First January Vessel in Five Years

press release
Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cargill exporting local grain to Canadian ethanol plant via the 'James Kuber.'

The Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has welcomed a rare January lake vessel to its docks. The "James Kuber" will export approximately 16,000 tons of local corn from port company Cargill to an ethanol plant in Sarnia, Ontario. The 700-foot vessel is expected to begin loading tonight and continue through tomorrow morning. "This is the first lake vessel that we've had call on the port in January since 2006," said Peter Laman, port director at the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor. "The mild weather has kept ice from forming on the lakes, which generally limits shipping this time of year. The international shipping season officially closed last month, but the port is open year-round. Businesses can still ship and receive cargo on river barges or lake vessels, as long as the weather and ice allow them to get through."

The "James Kuber" vessel was built in 1953 as a steamship but, in 2008, it was converted into a self-unloading Articulated Tug/Barge ("ATB"). The conversion removed nearly 70 feet of the ship's length, including the engine room and living area, and added a V-shaped notch at the back of the vessel where a tugboat locks into place. AT/Bs have the hauling capacity of large ships but are powered by tugboats, a common method for rehabilitating older ships. The port's international shipping season officially ended on Dec. 30, when locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway were closed for the winter. Weather-permitting, vessels can continue to run limited routes within the Great Lakes that do not pass through locks. The seaway reopens to ocean vessels in late March.

Cargill joined the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor in 1979. The company operates a 7-million bushel grain elevator, primarily exporting corn, wheat and soybeans from local farmers to world markets. Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately held company employs 142,000 people in 66 countries.

The Ports of Indiana is a statewide port authority that operates a system of three ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. The mission of the Ports of Indiana is to develop and maintain a world-class port system that operates as an agile, strategically-driven, self-funded enterprise dedicated to growing Indiana's economy. More than 60 companies operate at Indiana's three ports. The Ports of Indiana manages approximately 2,600 acres of property along the Ohio River and Lake Michigan - and has 800 acres available for future development. For more information, visit

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