Skip to main content

Another sign of spring: First 'saltie' arrives in Duluth port

  • Author:
  • Updated:

It's a sure sign of spring in the northland – the day when the first "saltie," or ocean-going freighter, arrives in the Duluth-Superior harbor.

And that day was Monday, when the 465-foot Kom arrived from Spain to pick up a shipment of durum wheat that it will deliver to Italy, where it will be made into pasta, MPR News reports.

Dozens of people lined the Duluth ship canal to watch the Kom, flying the flag of Malta, pass under the aerial lift bridge at about noon Monday.

"This is the coolest thing in the world," Dale Stewart, of Cambridge, Minn., told MPR News.

And the Kom's arrival was quite a bit earlier than last year's first saltie, which didn't get to port until May 7 because of the harsh winter and thick ice on the Great Lakes, the Duluth News Tribune reports.

Last year’s shipping season was a rough one. The deep freeze on the Great Lakes cost the economy more than $700 million and nearly 4,000 jobs.

For a while, there was some concern that this year's shipping season would start off late as well because of the ice conditions.

Just last week about a dozen ships were stuck in a giant ice field in the eastern part of Lake Superior, but icebreakers from Canada came to the rescue.

Now, most of the ice has melted and spring has come.

"The arrival of the first saltie each year is a tangible reminder for residents and tourists alike that the Port of Duluth-Superior is an international seaport," said Vanta Coda, Port Authority executive director, according to the News Tribune.

Larger vessels – "lakers" that can be up to 1,000 feet long – already began their shipping season. They transport cargo throughout the Great Lakes, and the first ones passed through the port in late March.

Close to 1,000 ships visit the Port of Duluth-Superior each year, carrying about 38 million tons of cargo including iron ore, coal, grain and cement, according to the Port Authority.

Next Up

money hundred dollar bills

Chanhassen psychologist pleads guilty to $550K billing fraud

Charles Howard Jorenby, 57, pleaded guilty to one count of healthcare fraud in U.S. District Court late last month.

police lights squad car

Charges: Coon Rapids man had 25 pounds of cocaine from Mexico

Luis Javier Avila-Lopez, 38, was arrested after law enforcement seized the cocaine earlier this year.

Screen Shot 2022-12-04 at 9.16.52 AM

Responding to Twitter release, former Minnesota GOP candidate calls for 'bullets'

It was in response to a thread on Twitter concerning the social media giant's moderation efforts regarding political issues.


NWS: 'Safe to say' more active weather is ahead

Three rounds of light snow around Minnesota before more substantial precipitation becomes a possibility.


Hero dad who stopped carjacker who fled with his kids identified

A GoFundMe has been set up to support Derek Gotchie and his family following the incident.

Screen Shot 2022-12-03 at 4.35.18 PM

Watch: New London-Spicer wins 3A championship on incredible walk-off TD

New London-Spicer defeated the unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in remarkable circumstances.


Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.


Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.


Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.