Ice Damage Repairs Hurts Lakes Cargo Totals

By Eric Haun
Wednesday, June 18, 2014

With three of the largest U.S.-flag lakers out of service for a combined 65 days in May to repair damage suffered in the heavy ice in March and April, cargo movement in U.S. hulls fell nearly 5 percent compared to a year ago. Shipments totaled 9.6 million tons. Had the three 1,000-footers been in operation the whole month, they would have carried another 600,000 tons and the fleet would have registered a small increase over May 2013.

Iron ore cargos totaled 4.6 million tons, a decrease of 6 percent compared to a year ago. The vessels removed from service to undergo repairs are normally heavily engaged in the movement of iron ore.

Coal shipments in U.S.-flag lakers totaled 1.9 million tons in May, an increase of 4.3 percent. The largest gain came in loadings at Lake Erie ports – 41.7 percent. However, shipments out of Lake Michigan fell by nearly 50 percent.

Limestone cargos totaled 2.6 million tons, a decrease of 7.8 percent.

The fleet’s year-to-date totals dramatically illustrate the impacts of the harshest winter in decades. Iron ore cargos are down by 31.3 percent. Coal trails last year by 18.8 percent. Limestone loadings are off by 22.3 percent.

Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes that carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate 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.

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