Several Freighters Temporarily Laid Up, Demand Down Due to Economic Impact of COVID-19

Each day we learn just how far the impact of COVID-19 is reaching.

We are taking a look at how it is impacting the Great Lakes Shipping industry. 07 10 2020 Freighter Traffic Covid Impact Pkg 6

“We’ve had probably 10 ships that should be sailing right now that are at the dock,” said Jim Weakley, President of the Lake Carriers’ Association.

They work with the various shipping companies and freighters in the Great Lakes.

This year demand is down because of the economic impact of COVID-19. It’s forcing several freighters to be laid up and out of service.

“They’re temporarily out of service so again it’s supply and demand, without the demand for the cargo we aren’t able to keep the ships sailing,” Weakley said.

Weakley says limestone is down about 21% compared to last June and down 16% year to date.

Another main cargo is iron ore. That’s down nearly 30% compared to last June and down 15% compared to last year.

“We’re a service industry and really what we need is for the US economy to come back so we can keep serving our customers,” Weakley said.

With these freighters laid up, Weakley says that likely means a decrease in traffic at the Soo Locks, but it also leads to ripple effects in other areas.

“In addition to the revenue our ships aren’t generating, we aren’t buying supplies,” Weakley said. “The US flag Great Lakes shipping has an economic impact of about 33 billion dollars.”

That means things like supplies, fuel and food aren’t being purchased along their shipping routes.

“That’s the ripple effect of our industry being down,” Weakley said.

Their hope is things bounce back before the Soo Locks close for the winter.

“So our hope is that they’ll be back before the season’s over and we’ll be able to bring those sailors back to work,” Weakley said.

Categories: Coronavirus