Sunday, August 12, 2007

Cuyahoga's "American Courage"

I continue to be amazed by these tremendous ore carriers as they traverse the Cuyahoga from river's mouth to steel mills several miles south of Downtown. Pictured is "American Courage", over 600 ft long, built in 1979 and operated by the American Steamship Company. American Courage carries iron ore pellets, coal, and limestone.

Among the others frequently spotted on the Cuyahoga are the American Republic, City of Buffalo, and Sam Laud. Surprisingly, these are the shortest of the American Steamship fleet. Some Great Lakes vessels exceed 1000 ft in length and can discharge 65,000 tons of iron ore or coal in 10 hours without assistance from shoreside personnel or equipment (Lake Carriers' Association)

A recent concern of the local shipping industry and municipal agencies has been the decreased dredging of the systems' shipping channels by the Army Corps of Engineers (which amounts for several feet shallower depths in the Cuyahoga River in some instances). Limited funding for regular dredgings [pdf] and overdue replacement of the aged, failing shore piling (in Cleveland, much of the bulkheading was installed during FDR's presidency) is suggested to be primary to the problem.
As expressed by James H.I. Weakley, President of LCA, to a House subcommittee this year, the shallower shipping depths requires each carrier to hold less draft. The 63 U.S.-Flag vessels working the Great Lakes lose more than 8,000 tons of cargo each trip when forced to trim just one inch from their loaded draft. "Those 8,000 tons of iron ore not carried could have produced steel for 6,000 automobiles. Those 8,000 tons of limestone not carried could have been used to build 24 homes." (Lake Carriers' Association)[pdf]
In unrelated recent ore carrier news, earlier this month a life ring from the carrier Edmund Fitzgerald (operated by Cleveland's Oglebay Norton) which sank 32 years ago in Lake Superior may have been found ashore Michigan's Upper Peninsula.


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