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The term Seawaymax
refers to vessels which are the maximum size that can fit through the canal locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway.
Seawaymax vessels are 740 feet (225.6 m) in length, 78 feet (23.8 m) wide, and have a draft of 26 feet (7.92 m) and a height above the waterline of 35.5 metres (116.5 ft). A number of lake freighter
Lake freighters, or Lakers, are bulk carrier vessels that ply the Great Lakes. The best known was the , the most recent and largest major vessel to be wrecked on the Lakes. These vessels are traditionally called boats, although classified as ships. In the mid-20th century, 300 lakers worked the...
s larger than this size cruise the Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are a collection of freshwater lakes located in northeastern North America, on the Canada – United States border. Consisting of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario, they form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth by total surface, coming in second by volume...
and cannot pass through to the Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...
. The size of the locks limits the size of the ships which can pass and so limits the size of the cargoes they can carry. The record tonnage for one vessel on the Seaway is 28,502 tons of iron ore while the record through the larger locks of the Great Lakes Waterway
The Great Lakes Waterway is a system of channels and canals that makes all of the Great Lakes accessible to oceangoing vessels. Its principal civil engineering components are the Welland Canal, bypassing Niagara Falls between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie, and the Soo Locks, bypassing the rapids of...
is 72,351 tons. Most new lake vessels, however, are constructed to the Seawaymax limit to enhance versatility by allowing the possibility of off-Lakes use. SS Edmund Fitzgerald
The SS Edmund Fitzgerald was an American Great Lakes freighter that made headlines after sinking in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975, with the loss of the entire crew of 29. When launched on June 8, 1958, she was the largest boat on North America's Great Lakes, and she remains...
, famous for her wreck in 1975, was constructed close to Seawaymax size.