Fleet Pays High Price for Thick Lakes Ice More Icebreakers Needed to Meet Needs of Commerce
CLEVELAND — Cargo movement in U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters (lakers) in March fell to its lowest level since 2009. Shipments totaled only 825,000 tons, a decrease of more than 60 percent compared to the month’s 5-year average. Another brutal winter, coupled with a number of casualties to U.S. and Canadian icebreakers, slowed the resumption of navigation.
A number of vessels delayed their fit-out because of the heavy ice. Only 26 U.S.-flag lakers were in service on April 1. In some years, nearly 50 hulls are underway by that date.