JUNE 22, 2015—U.S.-flag Great Lakes carriers had a bit sunny outlook in May then they had the same time a year ago. That’s because lakers moved 10.8 million tons of dry-bulk cargo in May, their highest total for that month since 2008, according to the Lake Carriers Association. The surge is at least partially attributable to the lack of ice delays that were experienced this May.
Iron ore cargoes were up more than 17 percent as compared with a year ago, but that increase somewhat reflects that three 1,000-foot long lakers were collectively out of service to repair ice damage for 65 days last year. The nearly 14 percent increase in limestone cargoes is in part because the lower horsepower lakers in the short-haul stone trade did not have to contend with ice this May.
Year-to-date, U.S.-flag cargoes stand at 21.3 million tons, an increase of 28.5 percent over the glacial conditions that prevailed during much of the first five months of 2014. Compared to the five-year average for the January-May timeframe, shipments in U.S. bottoms are actually down 3 percent, and that decrease reflects the ice-related delays experienced between January 1 and late April of this year.