By the Numbers: Great Lakes Shipping


The number of U.S.-flag vessel operators that belong to the Lake Carriers’ Association on the Great Lakes. That is also the number of 1,000-foot cargo carriers plying the Great Lakes.


The number of commercial ports on the Great Lakes.


The number of miles a Great Lakes freighter can carry one ton of cargo on one gallon of fuel.


The length in feet of the longest Great Lakes freighter, the Paul. R. Tregurtha. The Queen of the Lakes, as the vessel is known, was the last of the 1,000-footers to be built, and it was launched in April 1981 as the William J. De Lancey.


The length in miles of the navigation system from the westernmost port of Duluth, Minnesota, to the easternmost port of Ogdensburg, New York.


The year Congress forbade foreign-flag vessels from domestic commerce. That evolved into passage in 1920 of the Jones Act, which requires that all cargo moving between U.S. ports be carried in vessels that are U.S.-built, -owned and -crewed.


The number of semi trucks it would take to haul the 70,000 tons of cargo that the largest lake freighters can carry.


The number of tons of cargo that a 1,000-foot-long freighter can carry.


The number of jobs supported by shipping on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway.

$70 million

The amount spent on maintenance of the Great Lakes fleet after the 2018 season.

90 million

The number of tons of cargo the Great Lakes fleet is capable of carrying annually. Last year it carried 83.7 million tons, with iron ore leading the way at 45.8 million tons. Limestone approached the 22 million-ton mark, and coal was at 11.8 million tons – an 11.4 percent decrease from 2017.

$1 billion

The amount that a recent study found was lost in business revenue due to inadequate ice-breaking capabilities on the Great Lakes during the 2018-19 season. That includes $125 million lost in federal taxes and $46 million lost by state and local governments.

$35 billion

The amount of economic activity that Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway shipping supported in 2017.