Maintaining and modernizing the U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet will occupy shipyards when Sault St. Marie, Michigan, locks close soon.
The various projects scheduled for the next few months will require investments that range from $500,000 to almost $3 million per vessel.
Two vessels have already undergone their scheduled maintenance, but once the locks at Sault St. Marie, Michigan close on January 15 the winter work program will begin in earnest. A number of vessels will have steel renewed in their hulls and cargo holds and several will undergo their out-of-water survey this coming winter.
U.S.-flag lakers will further reduce their emissions by upgrading a number of diesel generators and a tug that pushes a self-unloading barge will be completely repowered with a state-of-the-art diesel engine. Other projects include upgrades to navigation equipment and galleys.
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 other cities in Michigan.
Employment peaks at about 1,200 during the winter and annual wages top $50 million. In addition, it is estimated that $800,000 in economic activity is generated per vessel in the community in which it is wintering.
Source: Lake Carriers’ Association