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Svein Harald Solheim captains the Menominee, a 1,100-foot ship brindled with rust from its 37 years of service.
Twin 4,000 horsepower engines, each as big as a large car, and their 20 combined cylinders run on heavy fuel that is so goopy it must be heated first to work. They rotate four seven-foot propellers that push the cargo ship across the Atlantic and around the Great Lakes at least five times a year.
At age 40, the Norwegian captain is a young one, with generations of seamen in his family before him, he said. This quiet life, motoring across the ocean about six months each year, suddenly became more social yesterday.
Local elected officials celebrated the Menominee as the first international ship of the 2005 season. The Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority also celebrated its 50th year in business. The agency was created by the Ohio General Assembly to own and operate public assets, such as the Port of Toledo and Toledo Express Airport. It also works to recruit industry and jobs.
As elected representatives, including U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), gave speeches and handed the captain gifts that reflected Toledo, workers operating "Big Lucas," a Port of Toledo crane, unloaded the 5,500 tons of lumber from Brake, Germany.
"Some people talk about baseball, spring training, or the first robin as the sign of spring, but here in Toledo, it's the first ship of the season," James Hartung, president of the port authority, said.
He said he believes that vibrant global trade promotes world peace, and seeing the first ship each year fills him with pride. "World peace can best be achieved by creating an interdependent network of trading partners," Mr. Hartung said.
The ship's journey took 13 days - nine across the Atlantic and four from the Eastern Seaboard along domestic waterways to the Port of Toledo.
The Menominee, a Norwegian-registered ship that once hosted the King of Sweden as a young boy in one of the passenger areas, might run for one more season and then retire. The old ships are run aground on Indian beaches, where thousands of workers climb aboard to strip everything valuable to be sold as scrap, the 57-year-old chief engineer, Hkon Sjvik, said. He has been at sea for 40 years and said he would outlast the Menominee, but only by a few years before he retires. The next stop is Green Bay, Wis.
Contact Christopher D. Kirkpatrick