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The motor vessel Sheila McDevitt will be loaded with 28,000 tons of food aid cargo at the Port of Lake Charles for destinations on Africa’s western coast. The cargo, coming from across the United States, will include rice, beans, peas and cornmeal. The Lake Charles Stevedores and United Ocean Services said it will take 12 days to load the vessel. (Eric Cormier / American Press)<br>

The motor vessel Sheila McDevitt will be loaded with 28,000 tons of food aid cargo at the Port of Lake Charles for destinations on Africa’s western coast. The cargo, coming from across the United States, will include rice, beans, peas and cornmeal. The Lake Charles Stevedores and United Ocean Services said it will take 12 days to load the vessel. (Eric Cormier / American Press)

Lake Charles Stevedores working to get food aid moving

Last Modified: Thursday, October 25, 2012 9:21 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Food from as far as Washington state is in Lake Charles to be loaded onto an American cargo ship that is headed to West Africa.

The M/V Sheila McDevitt will carry 28,000 tons of rice, lentils, cornmeal and other goods provided under guidance from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Agency for International Development.

Ship Captain Max Stovall, a 34-year maritime professional, said it will take 12 days to load the ship before it leaves the Port of Lake Charles.

He is proud to captain a vessel with a American flag, “especially since there aren’t many around any more. The industry has lots of foreign companies.”

The Sheila McDevitt sails under an American flag and is operated by American officers and crew.

“We have gone to ports in North Korea, East Africa and Sri Lanka. Transporting food like this is very rewarding. You get to appreciate what the life we have in America when visiting other countries,” Stovall said.

Lake Charles Stevedores and United Ocean Services worked together to get the goods to the port and loaded.

“United Ocean Services, the owner of the vessel, together with Phoenix Chartering, made the commitment to bring the vessel to the Port of Lake Charles based on their relationship with Lake Charles Stevedores and the reputation of the port for safe, efficient and speedy cargo handling,” Tom Flanagan, president of the Stevedores stated in a press release.

The job will create 125 jobs for longshoremen at the port, according to company officials.

Sheila McDevitt, United Ocean Services manger of chartering, stated in a press release that the company is pleased to work with Lake Charles shippers.

“United Ocean Services consistently seeks new, creative and efficient markets for its U.S. Flag Fleet and is proud of the mutual collaboration with Lake Charles Stevedores and the Port of Lake Charles, which enabled both parties to successfully secure the largest breakbulk shipment of food aid loading from the USG (United States government) in several years.”

Rice was provided by Farmers Rice Mill, Louisiana Rice Mill and Beaumont Rice Mill. Beans, peas and cornmeal were sent from mills in Abiline, Kan., Williston, N. D., Chinook, Mont., and the Spokane valley in Wash.

The Sheila McDevitt is a bulk carrier that was built in 1980.

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