More than $120 million spent maintaining, upgrading Great Lakes vessels during lay up

The following is excerpted from a February 14 press release issued by the Lake Carriers’ Association.

The annual process of maintaining the U.S.-flagged fleet of “Lakers” on the Great Lakes began in mid-January after the navigational locks connecting Lake Superior to the lower lakes closed for repairs. U.S. companies will invest more than $120 million into their vessels bringing skilled labor to shipyards and repair facilities around the Great Lakes states. The state receiving the largest sum was Wisconsin with $55 million followed by Ohio with $39 million, Pennsylvania at $19 million, and $7 million in Michigan.

“It is truly an amazing system where U.S. Lakers sail non-stop between March and January delivering as much cargo as possible before entering a two-month repair period. The work is not only vital to maintaining the U.S. fleet but also to the communities where it is performed bringing excellent paying, hardworking jobs to everyday Americans,” stated Jim Weakley, President of the Lake Carriers’ Association.

Engineers carefully inspect each vessel and execute any needed repairs while also upgrading systems and crew quarters. Major investments have been made to improve habitability onboard the vessels including wireless communications. State-of-the-art electronics will be refreshed including navigational computers and propulsion control systems. Hull plating will be replaced with steel made from iron ore that was shipped by the vessels to steel mills during the season.

“As a vital part of the American economy, it is essential that vessels on the Great Lakes are well maintained to continue optimal operations and prevent disruptions during the next busy shipping season,” said John Clemons, National Vice President, Great Lakes at American Maritime Officers. “It’s good to see Great Lakes companies investing in not only the fleet, but also the nation’s supply chain.”

Thanks to milder winter temperatures across the Great Lakes region the work will be a little less daunting this year. The U.S.-flagged American shipping companies have the most talented mariners in the world and Great Lakes shipyards and repair facilities have the absolute best skilled workers to tackle any task to keep the vessels sailing another year.

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 cargoes 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.