The JOURNAL of COMMERCE ONLINE
United States-flag vessels plying the Great Lakes carried 10.3 million tons of cargo in April, a decrease of 1.6 percent from the same month a year ago, and 18.1 million tons for the first four months of the year, an increase of three percent on-year.
The Cleveland-based Lake Carriers' Association, representing 18 corporations owning the 61 U.S.-flag vessels on the Lakes, said Thursday tonnages "reflect inadequate dredging of ports and waterways" and shallow drafts that force many ships to sail at less than full capacity.
The carriers have been lobbying Congress to increase funding for dredging by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at U.S. ports and channels, including particularly the Soo locks linking Lakes Superior and Huron and the St. Marys and St. Clair rivers.
In April, iron ore carried by U.S.-flag ships through the Soo locks totaled 63,122 net tons, against a top monthly cargo of 72,300 tons, the LCA said, while coal and limestone also were well below what ships could have carried.
"Increased dredging of Great Lakes ports and waterways is the only long-term solution for full utilization of vessel carrying capacity," the LCA said in releasing the April data.