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Brian Wood at the helm. Photo: David Sommerstein
Brian Wood at the helm. Photo: David Sommerstein

A peek inside Seaway master control

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Several hundred giant freighters slip through the St. Lawrence Seaway every year. They're guided by vessel traffic controllers from a squat building on top of the Eisenhower Lock in Massena.

The master control room looks straight out of Star Trek. Half a dozen big flat screens show computerized displays of real-time traffic along the St. Lawrence River and Lake Ontario.

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Brian Wood is an operations specialist with the St. Lawrence Seaway, and he showed me around.

In the control room you can see the overview, which Wood says is "the actual positioning of each vessel with an identity card that tells the name of the vessel, its destination, its speed, whether it's piloted, whether it's a tanker."

The control center manages all the traffic from Montreal all the way through Mid-Lake Ontario between the Canadian and American sectors. Brian started on the wall as a linesman. He was promoted to a lock and dam operator, went to train for traffic control and then became a supervisor. “It’s a very interesting job,” says Brian, who has been working at the St. Lawrence Seaway for 20 years.

David Sommerstein produced this Heard Up North. Hear Brian Wood's voice in person here.

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