Best May for U.S.-Flag Lakers in 7 Years
U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters (lakers) moved 10.8 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in May, their highest total for that month since 2008. The surge is at least partially attributable to the fact that no ice delays were experienced this May.
Comparisons with May 2014 illustrate how ice slowed shipping a year ago. Iron ore cargos were up more than 17 percent, but that increase somewhat reflects that in May 2014 three 1,000-foot long lakers were collectively out of service to repair ice damage for 65 days. The nearly 14 percent increase in limestone cargos is in part because the lower horsepower lakers in the short-haul stone trade did not have to contend with ice this May.
Year-to-date, U.S.-flag cargos stand at 21.3 million tons, an increase of 28.5 percent over the glacial conditions that prevailed during much of the first five months of 2014. Compared to the 5-year average for the January-May timeframe, shipments in U.S. bottoms are actually down 3 percent, and that decrease reflects the ice-related delays experienced between January 1 and late April of this year.