U.S.-Flag Lakes Float Off a Third in September

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

With America’s economy still not hitting on all cylinders, the U.S.-Flag Great Lakes fleet continued to struggle with slumping cargo demand in September. Shipments in U.S. bottoms totaled seven million net tons, a decrease of 36.2 percent compared to a year ago. Loadings were down 39 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average.

The year-long slump in iron ore and limestone cargos continued in September. Loadings were off 57 percent and 15 percent respectively. The coal trade in U.S.-Flag lakers experienced one of its biggest drops of the season. The two million tons loaded represented a decrease of 24 percent. Shipments of low-sulfur coal from Superior, Wisconsin accounted for most of the fall-off. Several factors were at work: reduced demand from an Ontario power plant; vessels down for maintenance; and vessels being delayed by heavy weather at the end of the month.

For the year, U.S.-Flag carriage stands at 42.6 million tons, a decrease of 42.5 percent compared to a year ago. Compared to the five-year average for the first three quarters, loadings in U.S. bottoms are down 44.3 percent.

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