Fewer ships winter in Twin Ports, making a dent in shipyard jobsFollowing an average of 10 ships per season, only seven ships will spend the winter in the Twin Ports.
By: By Jessica Hamilton/Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Following an average of 10 ships per season, only seven ships will spend the winter in the Twin Ports.
That’ll mean fewer jobs for shipyard workers this season, but still a busy one in Superior.
Frasier Shipyards Superintendent Mike Peterson says the shipping lay ups produce somewhere between 150 to 175 jobs.
“That’s a little low for us as of late; like I said if we had 12 boats we would be pushing 200 to 250,” he said.
Duluth-Superior Port Authority Facilities Manager Jim Sharrow says the lower number of ships wintering is for a lot of reasons.
“It’s a combination between operating plans and competitive issues for contracting the work generally,” Sharrow said
Peterson agrees. He says the competition between shipyards is keen.
“There’s some shipyards that have opened up on the lower Great Lakes and that, between them taking away some of our ships from up here and the economy does not, might not require all these ships to be running, Peterson said. So their looking at extended lay-up berths for these boats.”
The Lake Carriers’ Association represents 17 American companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag vessels on the Great Lakes, all of them needing a place to tie up for the winter. Vice President Glenn Nekvasil says Great Lakes shipyards will produce around 1,200 jobs this winter.
“They have an annual payroll of about 50 million and it’s estimated that each ship will generate in the area of about 800,000 or so of economic activity in the community where it is laid up,” Nekvasil said
Peterson says they’re still trying to determine what jobs will be done on which lakers; they will have their hands full working on regular repairs and maintenance until spring.
“We have steel work on the Munson, we’re going to be renewing a cargo hold bulk head and the cargo hold slope on that. And it’s going to be on the dry dock so we have to pull on the c-valves and check everything that’s under water to meet Coast Guard requirements.”
The seven ships docking in the Twin Ports are the American Century, Mesabi Miner, Indiana Harbor, John J. Boland, John G Munson, Roger Blough and American Spirit.
The shipping season ended earlier this month and resumes March 25.
Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard locally on 91.3 KUWS-FM and online at www.wpr.org.