March 30 - Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor celebrated the opening of its 41st international shipping season with the arrival of Wagenborg Shipping's Avonborg, carring 75 of the longest wind turbine blades in existence in North America on their journey from E

Two more ships will move through the port in coming weeks carrying additional wind turbine components for the project.

Port and local officials boarded the vessel for a brief ceremony, presenting the ship's captain, Capt. Gert J.K. Mol, with gifts including an Indiana state flag and a vintage Port of Indiana South Shore poster.

The first ship signifies the start of the shipping season, the arrival of vital materials for local business and the start of another work season for longshoremen, crane operators, truckers and businesses that depend on the port.

Avonborg was the first ship through the St. Lambert lock in Québec, Canada, as the St. Lawrence Seawayopened its 53rd shipping season on March 22.

In recent years, the Port of Indiana-Burns Harbor has become a hub for shipping wind turbines. The port handled its largest single shipment of turbine components in 2010 with 11 ships carrying 134 complete wind turbine units (pictured below). The port also moved its first export shipment of wind equipment last year as two loads of turbines from Acciona Windpower in Iowa were shipped to Belledune, New Brunswick.