The American fleet on the Great Lakes is having a very bad year, with a third of the vessels tied up and the remainder carrying 20.9 million tons of cargo for the first half, down 46.6 percent from the first half last year.
The Cleveland-based Lake Carriers’ Association reported July 16 "the relentless recession again hammered the U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet in June." Cargo movement in U.S, lakers was 7.2 million net tons of iron ore, coal, limestone and other commodities for cut-back steel and power-producing plants and construction projects called off.
The June total is down 37 percent from June last year and down 38.5 percent from the June five-year average.
For the first half, the 20.9 million tons is not only down 46.6 percent from the first half last year but down 48.9 percent from the 2004-2008 half-year average.
As a result of the prolonged shipping decline, 48 U.S.-flag vessels were working the Great Lakes at the end of June, against 75 in the active fleet in June last year.
The biggest decrease in June was in iron ore for the steel industry, at 2.2 million tons down 57 percent from June last year. At just 7.1 million tons for the half year, iron ore is down 65 percent from the 20.3 million tons in the period last year and down 64 percent from the five-year average for the period.
Weakness in limestone cargoes — 1.9 million tons in June, down 39 percent; 5 million tons for the half year, down 40 percent from the period last year — reflect both reduced steel mill demand and "the paucity of construction projects" in the Great Lakes basin, the LCA said.
Coal came close to previous levels while grain going out to the St. Lawrence Seaway and beyond was well up.
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