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US Great Lakes Fleet Set for $126 Million in Winter Work

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

February 6, 2023

(Photo: Lake Carriers’ Association)

(Photo: Lake Carriers’ Association)

The U.S. Great Lakes shipping fleet has begun the annual transition from sailing to scheduled periods in regional docks and ship repair facilities for repair, maintenance and modernization.

This year alone, U.S. Great Lakes shipping companies will invest more than $126 million in their vessels—from over 1,000-feet to smaller tug and barge combinations—at shipyards and facilities across the Great Lakes, according to trade group the Lake Carriers’ Association. This includes more than $48 million in Wisconsin, $43.5 million in Ohio, $9 million in Michigan and $26 million spread across Minnesota, Illinois, New York and Pennsylvania.

Services range from replacing steel plating and engine overhauls, to navigation and other equipment updates and painting. Some vessels will be completely pulled from the water in a dry dock to be inspected, cleaned and repainted.

The work is critical to maintaining a fleet of freshwater vessels that will return to service in March, plying Great Lake waterways until January when they'll return to the docks for the next repair cycle.

“It is a unique system here on the Great Lakes where U.S. shipping companies transport critical raw materials from the northern Great Lakes to manufacturing facilities on the lower lakes. The raw materials are transformed into finished products like steel which are then reinvested into our vessels,” said Jim Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers’ Association. “The relationship between Great Lakes shipyards and U.S. shipping is vital to the regional economy and supports our national economic security. Without this mutually beneficial relationship, it would be difficult to keep the pilot light of North American manufacturing lit.”