Super-storm Sandy took a bite out of laker traffic on the Great Lakes last month. The Lake Carriers Association says it stopped ships for about three days.
Lake Carriers’ spokesman Glen Neckvasil says there are storms and then there are superstorms, “These ships are built to take heavy weather but these captains know when it’s time to go to safe harbor.”
So the October cargo was down across the board, “The fleet collectively went to anchor for about 2000 hours. So that’s cut into the hauling power, the monthly carrying capacity. In total we were down about 12.3%. I wouldn’t be able to tell you how much of that was related to Sandy but certainly a noticeable portion would have been. We had ships at anchor for three days.”
With the Great Lakes season set to wrap up in the middle of January, Neckvasil doubts they can catch up, “You really can’t make the ships go any faster. They’re already operating at their maximum safe horsepower. You can turn ‘em up for a spurt but you can’t add an extra mile per hour for the season.”
Besides October being down 12% from a year ago, overall cargo this season is down 3.5% from last year. Fifty two U.S.-flagged ships are sailing the Great Lakes, with five sitting at dockside this year.