U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters carried 89.5 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in 2012, a decrease of 4.6 percent compared to 2011. The 2012 float was 1.5 percent off the five-year average for U.S.-flag lakers.
U.S.-flag lakers carried 45.2 million tons of iron ore in 2012, or 73.3 percent of the total volume of iron ore moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 45.2 million tons of iron ore carried by U.S.-flag lakers represented a decrease of 4.3 percent from 2011.
Coal cargoes moved in U.S. bottoms totaled 17.6 million tons in 2012, or 69.3 percent of the total volume of coal moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 17.6 million tons of coal carried by U.S.-flag lakers represented a decrease of 13.1 percent from 2011.
The limestone trade in U.S.-flag hulls totaled 21.8 million tons in 2012, or 79 percent of the total volume of limestone moved on the Great Lakes last year. The 21.8 million tons of limestone carried by U.S.-flag lakers represented an increase of 1.7 percent (360,000 tons) over 2011.
Year-end totals for the other commodities are not yet available for vessels of all flags, but U.S.-flag cargoes of cement increased 13 percent. Loadings of salt in U.S.-flag lakers slipped almost 30 percent. The sand trade in U.S. bottoms was virtually unchanged from 2011, but grain cargoes in U.S.-flag hulls rose 31 percent.