U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet operators continue to invest heavily in their ships and the region.
The fresh water of the Great Lakes allows vessels to sail for decades, and ships that are 40 and 50 years old, or even older, continue to sail efficiently because of annual maintenance work performed by Great Lakes shipyards and paid for by their U.S.-owned, U.S.-operated and U.S.-crewed vessel operators.
This year alone U.S. Great Lakes shipping companies will invest nearly $87 million in their vessels at shipyards and facilities across the Great Lakes. That includes over $36 million in Wisconsin, $33 million in Ohio, $13 million in Pennsylvania, and over $4 million in Michigan.
CONVEYOR BELTS CRUCIAL
The work includes replacing steel plating, engine overhauls, navigation equipment updates, and conveyor belt repairs and replacements.
The conveyor belt work is critical as Great Lakes self-unloading bulk carriers are unique in their ability to unload massive amounts of bulk cargo without shoreside assistance. The innovative self-unloading technology allows a 1,000-foot ship to unload 70,000 tons of cargo in eight hours.
“A ship can arrive in the middle of the night with cargo at any number of Great Lakes port facilities, unload before sunrise, and shoreside workers awake to a huge stockpile of raw material critical to their operations positioned perfectly on the dock,” says Jim Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers’ Association.