Commerce is King
Coast Guard, industry work to ensure
Great Lakes transport system remains vibrant
By JOHN C. MARCARIO, Associate Editor
enforcer assisting in administering
federal laws and treaties on waters
under U.S. jurisdiction, and other
international agreements on the
high seas. As regulators, Coast
Guard personnel ensure vessels are
properly equipped, well maintained and safely operated.
“As service providers for critical
functions like icebreaking, search
and rescue, aids to navigation and
traffic management, we facilitate
commerce on this vital bi-national
system,” Midgette said.
Industry partners, such as the
Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA),
“The service enforces the laws and regulations, and
it’s important that we are able to quickly communicate
with them. Our relationship has made this a seamless
process,” said Glen Nekvasil, vice president of the
LCA, which represents U.S.-flag vessel operators on
the Great Lakes.
The main products flowing through the five lakes
are iron ore, limestone and coal. Other cargo includes
cement, salt, sand and grain.
As the economy has started to rebound, so too has
the amount of cargo and vessels traveling on the Great
Lakes. According to the shipping industry, the iron ore
trade is on the upswing after a terrible 2009, and limestone is getting stronger. But the shipment of coal has
continued to decline, due in large part to industries
starting to phase out its use.
The LCA, headquartered in Rocky River, Ohio, has
17 member companies that operate 57 U.S.-flag self-propelled vessels and tug/barge units, also called “
lakers,” that range in length from 494 to 1,013.5 feet and
can carry more than 115 million tons of cargo in a year.
The Coast Guard and shipping industry strive to have a positive
working relationship in the Great Lakes system to make sure
rules and regulations do not hamper the flow of trade.
■ More than 160 million metric tons of cargo move through the
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway system every year.
■ The main products traveling through the five lakes are iron ore,
limestone and coal.
■ The 2013 shipping season kicked off in March when the tug/
barge Prentiss Brown/St. Mary’s Conquest left Milwaukee for
Charlevoix, Mich., carrying 9,200 tons of cement.
The Great Lakes waterway system supports a $34 billion shipping industry, with more than 160 million metric tons of cargo moving
through it every year, according to the 2011 report “The
Economic Impacts of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System,” prepared by the transportation economic
analysis and strategic planning firm Martin Associates
of Lancaster, Pa.
The study, commissioned by a coalition of U.S. and Canadian Great Lakes-Seaway marine industry stakeholders,
also found that maritime commerce on the Great Lakes-Seaway system generated 92,923 direct jobs in 2010.
The close collaboration between the shipping industry and the Coast Guard’s Ninth District helps maintain
this vibrant maritime transport system and ensure the
safe transit of commerce on the Great Lakes.
“The Coast Guard’s positive relationship with the
commercial shipping industry is essential to maintaining a safe and secure marine transportation system on
the Great Lakes,” said Rear Adm. Fred M. Midgette,
the Ninth District’s new commander.
Marine safety is one of the service’s 11 statuary missions, as it is the nation’s primary maritime law