CLEVELAND, OHIO (February 10, 2022) – It is an annual occurrence which keeps the iron ore, stone, and cement moving on the Great Lakes fueling the North American economy and infrastructure improvements. U.S.-flagged Great Lakes shipping companies’ partner with repair facilities around the region to conduct annual maintenance and upgrades to keep vessels operating efficiently during the nine-month operating season when the Soo Locks are open for business.
This year, companies will invest nearly $83 million in their vessels moored in New York, Ohio, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. That translates into jobs for hundreds of workers in these Great Lakes states. Wisconsin shipyards will get $41 million in work, Ohio $37 million, Pennsylvania $4 million, and New York $1 million.
Work on the vessels will range from engine and navigation system upgrades to steel replacement on the hulls and decks of the vessels. The same iron ore these vessels hauled from Lake Superior ports during the summer which was turned into steel in Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania will now go back into the large self-unloading ships. “The Great Lakes Navigation System is truly interdependent. From the mines that produce the bulk materials, to the ports which deliver and receive products, to the U.S.-flag ships that move the material to production facilities, to the end products being used to make our lives better and more efficient. The jobs sustained by this system are vital to the economy,” stated Jim Weakley, President of the Lake Carriers’ Association.
Two shipyards in the Great Lakes were specially designed to handle 1000-foot-long vessels that are 105-feet wide. Some of those vessels will be removed from the water and placed on blocks so the underwater hull can be inspected and painted. Others will have their massive engines lifted out and replaced with new. With only two-months left before the Soo Locks open, the work is critical and time sensitive to ensure vessels are ready to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from March through January.
About Lake Carriers’ Association
Since 1880, Lake Carriers’ has represented the U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet, which today can move more than 90 million tons of cargos annually that are the foundation of American industry, infrastructure, and energy: iron ore, stone, coal, cement, and other dry bulk materials such as grain, salt, and sand.