Shipping and Logistics

Great Lakes Preparing for End of Shipping Season

Written by Sandy Williams

Navigation for freighters on the Great Lakes is winding to a close. This winter is expected to be warmer which may mean less ice on the Lakes and fewer delays of ore to mills when the shipping season reopens. The past two winters saw unusually high levels of ice coverage that persisted into April and May, delaying the March opening of the Great Lakes shipping season.

Steel mills are working to get their ore shipments in before navigation through the locks ends for the year. The St. Lawrence Seaway System is scheduled to close by December 30, 2015. Closure of the Sault Ste. Marie Locks is scheduled for January 15, 2016 with re-opening scheduled for March 25, 2016.

Weaker demand for steel products has resulted in lower ore shipments to U.S. mills. The Lake Carriers Association reported that iron ore shipments on the Great Lakes were down 23 percent compared to a year ago, for a total of 5.3 million tons. Shipments were down 9 percent from the month’s five year average.

Canadian port shipments were up 24 percent and U.S. port shipments were down 27.4 percent. For the first ten months of 2015 iron ore shipments totaled 44.4 million tons, a decrease of 6 percent from the same period in 2014.

Interlake Steamship confirms seeing a reduction in raw materials. Interlake vessels are currently all operational. Winter layup is anticipated for early January, slightly ahead of the traditional end of the season. One of Interlake’s vessels, the Herbert C. Jackson, will be pulled from service at Christmas and sent to the shipyard in Superior, Wis., to be repowered from a steamship to a motor vessel. The ship will return to service in early June 2016.

Algoma Central is in the midst of a fleet renewal plan. The company announced it has contracted for two 740 foot Seaway Max self-unloading bulk freighters to be built by Jiangsu Yangzijiang Shipbuilding Co., Ltd. Algoma also has five Equinox class ships under construction at the Uljanik Group’s 3Maj shipyard in Rijeka, Croatia. The first vessels are scheduled for delivery in early 2018.

Latest in Shipping and Logistics