U.S.-flag cargo on Great Lakes down 3.3 percent in 2015

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The following is the text of a news release from the Lake Carriers' Association (LCA):

(CLEVELAND) — U.S.-flag Great Lakes freighters (lakers) moved 87.2 million tons of cargo in 2015, a decrease of 3.3 percent compared to 2014. The end-year tally is also the lowest since 2009 when the U.S.-flag float totaled 66.5 million tons.

Iron ore cargoes tumbled 10.4 percent to 40.9 million tons, again, the lowest total since 2009.

Coal cargoes totaled 17.65 million tons, a decrease of less than 1 percent, or 118,000 tons, which is the equivalent of roughly two cargoes in a 1,000-foot-long laker.

Limestone cargos increased nearly 8 percent to 23.1 million tons, the highest total since 2008.

U.S.-flag cement cargoes rose 6.3 percent to 3.45 million tons. Salt cargoes were almost a carbon copy of 2014 — 1.4 million tons. Sand shipments dipped 15 percent to 320,000 tons. Grain cargoes topped 350,000 tons, an increase of 37 percent.

The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 15 American companies that operate 56 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes and carry the raw materials that drive the nation’s economy: iron ore and fluxstone for the steel industry, aggregate and cement for the construction industry, coal for power generation, as well as salt, sand and grain. Collectively, these vessels can transport more than 100 million tons of cargo per year. More information is available at www.lcaships.com.

By Professional Mariner Staff