US-flag Great Lakes Cargos Up Nearly 15%
U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters (lakers) moved 11.3 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in October, an increase of 14.7 percent compared to a year ago. The October float was also 19.6 percent above the month’s long-term average.
Iron ore for North American steelmakers totaled 5.4 million tons in October, an increase of 21.3 percent compared to a year ago. The industry continues to benefit from high water levels. Several ore cargos topped 69,000 tons.
Nonetheless, if the Great Lakes Navigation System was dredged to project dimensions, loads could have topped 72,000 tons. The industry is working with Congress to ensure dredging nationally is funded in FY15 at the level called for in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act: $1.166 billion. The increased funding should bring more dredging dollars back to the Lakes and begin to reverse the build-up of sediment in ports and waterways.
Coal cargos totaled 2.4 million tons, an increase of 13.3 percent compared to a year ago.
Shipments of limestone increased 4 percent to 2.8 million tons.
Year-to-date, U.S.-flag cargo movement stands at 71.3 million tons, a decrease of 2.8 percent compared to the same point in 2013. The shortfall is a far cry from what it was in March and April when thick ice formations all but stalled shipping. As May began, U.S.-flag cargo movement was down 45 percent. However, with a new ice season in the offing, industry will need the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards to keep commerce moving well into January in order to complete customers’ requirements.