U.S.-Flag shipments of dry-bulk cargo on the Great Lakes
in June totaled 11.4 million net tons, a decrease of 3 percent compared to a year ago. However, the June total represents the second month in a row in which the gap between this season and last has narrowed significantly. The 2002 season began with a 20-percent decrease in April, the first full month of navigation in the dry-bulk trades, but May float was down by 9.4 percent.
Another positive sign in June was the sailing of three idled lakers. Oglebay Norton Marine Services Company activated
its BUCKEYE on June 8 and its COURTNEY BURTON on June 15. Both vessels are mid-sized self-unloaders. Interlake Steamship sailed its 1,000-footer JAMES R. BARKER on June 29. However, there are still four U.S.-Flag lakers with no sail date for 2002, and a fifth, the KINSMAN INDEPENDENT, has been laid up until more grain cargos become available.
For the first time this season, the June U.S.-Flag iron ore total increased compared to the corresponding period last year. Shipments of iron ore in U.S. bottoms topped 5.4 million tons, an increase of 3.2 percent. The trade benefited from the resumption of steel production at ISG's Cleveland and Indiana Harbor facilities. However, for the season, U.S.-Flag iron ore cargos have declined by nearly 19 percent, a clear indication that the American steel industry has yet to turn the corner in its efforts to rebound from years of unfair trade in foreign steel.
Coal loadings in U.S.-Flag lakers slipped 5.3 percent to 2.2 million net tons in June. The season-to-date total, 6.9 million tons, represents a decrease of 1.8 percent. Reduced demand for western coal from a major Michigan utility accounts for the decrease. Stone cargos in U.S. hulls fell nearly 10 percent in June to 3.1 million tons. Steel's struggles continued to impact shipments of fluxstone, but a general sluggishness in the construction market also contributed to the decrease.