CLEVELAND—U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters (“lakers”) carried 88.7 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in 2010, an increase of 33.4 percent over 2009. Shipments were, however, nearly 10 percent off the industry’s 5-year average, a fact that reinforces that the U.S. economy has yet to fully recover from the recession.
The largest increase came in iron ore cargos for the steel industry. Shipments in U.S. bottoms totaled 42 million tons, an increase of 75 percent compared to 2009. Again, however, the rebound has to be put in perspective. In 2009 iron ore shipments from ports fell to their lowest level since 1938.
Coal cargos carried in U.S.-flag hulls totaled 21.5 million tons, an increase of 4.1 percent compared to 2009, but fell short of the trade’s 5-year average by almost 13 percent.
Shipments of limestone (aggregate and fluxstone) totaled 20.4 million tons, an increase of 19.6 percent over 2009. However, the 2010 total was nearly 18 below the trade’s 5-year average.
Cement cargos slipped by about 80,000 tons. Salt loadings increased by 130,000 tons. Sand cargos dipped slightly, and grain loadings were a virtual repeat of 2009.
Lake Carriers’ Association represents 18 American companies that operate 55 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes that carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation…. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 115 million tons of cargo per year when high water offsets lack of adequate dredging.
Source: Lake Carriers’ Association