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

Shipbuilding

Damen Outfitting First of Nine Bahamas Patrol Boats

The first of nine Damen Stan Patrol 3007s ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force has arrived at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem in the Netherlands for outfitting.

Liquefaction Terminals to Dominate LNG Capital Expenditure

Capital expenditure (Capex) on global LNG facilities is expected to total $259 billion (bn) over the period 2015-2019, with investments expected to be 88% larger

New Chinese Shipyard Launches First Ship

The new shipyard facility of Honghua Offshore Oil & Gas Equipment Company in Jiangsu, China, has launched its first ship, an IMT982 Platform Supply Vessel. The vessel,

Ship Repair & Conversion

Keeping to the Schedule in the Pacific Northwest

When a tightly scheduled repower for the Kodiak-based trawler Sea Mac in early December took a very bad turn, Mike Fourtner used his 25 years of fishing experience

Optimarin ,Goltens Ink BWT Retrofit Agreement

Ballast Water Treatment (BWT) specialist Optimarin and Goltens, a provider of engineering and installation solutions for the shipping industry, have signed a nonexclusive

China's Scrap Yards Apply for EU Regulation

China's Zhoushan Changhong International Ship Recycling and Jiang Xiagang Changjiang Ship Recycling Yard, world’s two biggest ship scrap yards by capacity,  have

News

Port Workers in Argentine Grain Hub End Strike

Port workers in part of the Argentine grains hub of Rosario lifted a work stoppage on Friday, only a day after they went on strike over demands for higher year-end bonuses, a union official said.

Madsen to Chair Norway’s Research Council Executive Board

Henrik O. Madsen appointed chairman of the executive board of the Research Council of Norway   DNV GL president and CEO Henrik O. Madsen was appointed as chairman

Larger Tankers May Offer Better Return Chances

Investors looking for returns in the tanker markets can invest their capital in a variety of ways. Should an owner invest in a VLCC or an Aframax? How about an

Vessels

Damen Outfitting First of Nine Bahamas Patrol Boats

The first of nine Damen Stan Patrol 3007s ordered by the Royal Bahamas Defense Force has arrived at Damen Shipyards Gorinchem in the Netherlands for outfitting.

MARAD Publishes US ATB, ITB Database

The U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) released what it is calling a first-of-its-kind public database that chronicles U.S.-flagged, privately owned domestic

New Chinese Shipyard Launches First Ship

The new shipyard facility of Honghua Offshore Oil & Gas Equipment Company in Jiangsu, China, has launched its first ship, an IMT982 Platform Supply Vessel. The vessel,

Great Lakes

Great Lakes Coal Trade Slows in November

Coal shipments on the Great Lakes totaled 2.6 million tons in November, a decrease of 3 percent from a year ago, as shipments were affected by weather-related delays,

CSL St-Laurent on Maiden Voyage

The second of Canada Steamship Lines' (CSL) two newbuild Trillium Class Great Lakes bulk carriers, CSL St-Laurent, was delivered on November 26, 2014 and set

Lakes Limestone Trade Dips in November

Shipments of limestone on the Great Lakes totaled 2.7 million tons in November, a decrease of 4.4 percent compared to a year ago, the Lake Carriers’ Association reported.

 
 
Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Maritime Standards Naval Architecture Offshore Oil Pipelines Pod Propulsion Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Sonar
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: 0.1992 sec (5 req/sec)