Steel Mills

USS Gary Works to Receive More Iron Ore Vessels

Written by John Packard

Ice coverage on the Great Lakes is beginning to subside with 36.7 percent coverage reported by NOAA  Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory as of April 19.  Ice persists, however, in Lake Superior and the northern sections of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.  Ice continues to clog the locks through Sault Ste. Marie. It is the ice in the northern sections of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron and Lake Superior as well as the ice in the locks and along the channel between Lake Superior and Lake Huron which is causing the delays in the iron ore shipments.

US Steel Gary Works will receive ore later this evening as the iron ore carrier American Spirit was only a couple of hours away from Gary, Indiana as of 6:30 PM ET. SMU is aware of a couple of other vessels on their way to Gary, Indiana. The Edgar B. Speer has passed Sault Ste. Marie and should reach Gary later this week. The Edwiin H. Gott is on Lake Nicolet and has an ETA of April 22nd. SMU does not have a complete list of vessels heading toward Gary. We were able to track these vessels on the Marine Traffic website (

Ore ships continue to struggle to ports near Duluth to load with iron ore. Coast Guard icebreaking ships continue to lead convoys of ships across the lake. No ships have arrived or departed Duluth today (Easter Sunday).

Steel Market Update received the following information through our LinkedIn group (conveniently called Steel Market Update):

“The ice conditions on the upper Great Lakes continue to be challenging, to the point of a sailor on one of the ships coming up with the following: WANTED: Ice Eating Sea Monster- Pay Commensurate with experience, All the Ice you can eat. 401K, Benefits Package, Vacation based on performance. Profit sharing. Apply In person@ Lake Superior

“Some of the upbound convoys have begun to move with the assistance of US and Canadian icebreakers. As the upbound ships cleared, some downbound ships were able to move through the Soo Locks. Some ships needed mechanical repairs and others the need to take on fuel and stores before moving upbound or downbound. Still considerable ice in the Straits of Mackinac. The recent cold weather and snow last week (note it only got into the low 40’s during the day yesterday in Sault Ste. Marie and back down into the 20’s at night- both about 9 degrees below average for the day) has made river transits difficult again.

“It has been reported that all the ice breaking over the past two weeks has created a large amount of brash ice, which has frozen into nearly impenetrable masses, particularly in the various turns along the river. As a ship moves through it, the brash gets pushed aside and becomes even deeper along the ship’s sides, creating considerable friction and reducing the ship’s power and often bogging it down. Even the icebreakers have trouble turning and progressing through these ice conditions. Despite this, several ships were moved up- and down-river. Those that have been waiting the longest were loading provisions and fresh water, as they normally do not go this long without refilling their water tanks. Showers were rationed as water levels on board dropped.”

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