U.S. Great Lakes Fleets Plans $70M Winter Investments

MarineLink.com
Thursday, January 16, 2014

After a season in which U.S.-flag lakers will have sailed more than 2,500,000 miles and carried nearly 90 million tons of cargo, a $70-plus million tune-up awaits the fleet.  One ship arrived in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, to undergo conversion to a barge in early November, but the bulk of the fleet began tying up at their winter berths starting in late December and the final lay-ups will come in short order now that the locks at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, are closed.  Upwards of 1,200 shipyard workers then will labor virtually non-stop to ready the vessels for the 2014 season that will begin in mid-March.

Despite the challenges that winter weather presents in the Great Lakes region, the first quarter of the year is the prime time for maintaining and modernizing vessels.  Vessels have to operate 24/7 during the season to meet the needs of commerce, so the closing of the Soo Locks means employment at Great Lakes shipyards is about to peak.

The steel industry is Great Lakes shipping’s largest customer, so it is perhaps fitting that steel is the primary material used in maintaining and modernizing the fleet each year.  This winter approximately 1,100 tons of steel will be used to renew sections of hulls and cargo holds.  The various grades of steel used in vessels must meet exacting standards set by the American Bureau of Shipping and so must be ordered months in advance.

While the Lakes freshwater environment is gentle on vessels, U.S. law requires lakers be dry-docked at regularly scheduled intervals so the U.S. Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping can examine the hull below the waterline.  Massive concrete and wooden blocks are positioned in the drydock and support the vessel once the chamber has been drained.  Several vessels will undergo out-of-water inspections this winter.

Much attention will be paid to the vessels’ massive engines, some capable of generating nearly 20,000 horsepower.  The engines are shut down only long enough to load and discharge cargo during the late March/mid-January shipping season, so must be primed for nearly continuous operation. 

Navigation, fire fighting and lifesaving equipment will also be carefully checked.

The major shipyards on the Lakes are located in Sturgeon Bay and Superior, Wisconsin; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Toledo, Ohio.  Smaller “top-side” repair operations are located in Cleveland, Ohio; Escanaba, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and several cities in Michigan.  The industry’s annual payroll approaches $50 million and it is estimated that additional $800,000 in economic activity is generated per vessel in the community in which it is wintering.

Great Lakes shipyards made a number of improvements during the year to better service the fleet this winter.  One yard in Wisconsin added a 7,000-ton floating drydock.  Another yard in Wisconsin continued to add hundreds of feet of sheet pile berthing dock to allow it to service more vessels.

Communities far from the Lakes also benefit from the winter work program.  Hundreds of feet of high-strength conveyor belts for the vessels’ unloading systems are being manufactured in Marysville, Ohio, and new galley ranges to feed the crew of 23 on a 1,000-foot-long vessel are being produced in Smithsville, Tennessee.

Over the course of the season, about 1,600 men and women work on U.S.-flag lakers.  Some will assist with maintenance of the vessels during the winter.  Others will upgrade their skills at classes sponsored by their employers and unions. 

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, limestone and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as salt, sand and grain.  Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo per year.  Those cargos generate and sustain more than 103,000 jobs in the United States and have an economic impact of more than $20 billion. 
 

Maritime Reporter August 2014 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

Shipbuilding

Survey Vessel Delivered to Fugro N.V.

Fugro Pioneer is the second of three vessels to be delivered to Fugro in 2014. Fugro has taken delivery of the second of the three Fugro Offshore Coastal Survey

Mexican Navy Contracts Damen for Two Vessels

Secretaria de Marina orders seventh patrol vessel and a fast crew supplier In August 2014 the Mexican Navy (Secretaría de Marina) and the Netherlands’ Damen

Ferus Smit Building LNG Powered Cement Carrier

The first unique LNG powered ship that Ferus Smit has on order for Erik Thun A.B. will be built and equipped as a dedicated cement carrier. The ship will be delivered to the joint venture JT cement,

Ship Repair & Conversion

BAE Systems Awarded 'USS Hopper' Repair Contract

US Department of Defense informs BAE Systems Hawaii, Honolulu, Hawaii, is being awarded a not-to-exceed $22,905,907 undefinitized contract action to a previously

MN 100: Vigor Industrial

5555 N Channel Avenue Portland, OR 97217 Tel: (503) 247-1777    Email: heather.blahnik@vigorindustrial.com Website: www.vigorindustrial.com President & CEO:

Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque Offers Strategic Advantages

Acquired less than two years ago, Damen Shiprepair Dunkerque is a relatively new addition to the group’s worldwide network of ship repair and conversion yards. Originally called Arno Dunkerque,

News

China, Sri Lanka to Launch FTA Talks

Chinese President Xi Jinping began a visit to Sri Lanka on Tuesday agreeing to open bilateral negotiations for a free trade pact as Beijing tightened its embrace

Maritime Academy Awarded DHS Grant for Arctic Training

Maine Maritime Academy receives $450,000 grant From U.S. Department of Homeland Security for ice navigation and maritime first responder courses for the Arctic Maine

Knightsbridge Closes Vessel Acquisition Transaction

Bermuda-based Knightsbridge Tankers Limited announced that it has closed the first stage of its vessel acquisition transaction. Knightsbridge has issued 31 million

Vessels

Survey Vessel Delivered to Fugro N.V.

Fugro Pioneer is the second of three vessels to be delivered to Fugro in 2014. Fugro has taken delivery of the second of the three Fugro Offshore Coastal Survey

Mexican Navy Contracts Damen for Two Vessels

Secretaria de Marina orders seventh patrol vessel and a fast crew supplier In August 2014 the Mexican Navy (Secretaría de Marina) and the Netherlands’ Damen

Ferus Smit Building LNG Powered Cement Carrier

The first unique LNG powered ship that Ferus Smit has on order for Erik Thun A.B. will be built and equipped as a dedicated cement carrier. The ship will be delivered to the joint venture JT cement,

Great Lakes

Great Lakes Dry Cargo Residue Discharge Rule in Effect

The U.S. Coast Guard published a final rule to the Federal Register announcing that it has received approval from the Office of Management and Budget for an information

USCG, Enbridge to Conduct Oil Spill Response Exercise

The Coast Guard 9th District, partner agencies, and Enbridge Energy Limited Partnership will conduct a full-scale oil spill response exercise in Indian River, Michigan, Wednesday.

Pesticides a Concern for Aquatic Life in U.S. Rivers & Streams

Levels of pesticides continue to be a concern for aquatic life in many of the Nation’s rivers and streams in agricultural and urban areas, according to a new

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Security Maritime Standards Pipelines Pod Propulsion Port Authority Ship Electronics Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | terms and conditions | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.2706 sec (4 req/sec)