Local View: Commercial Shipping’s Value To Twin Ports, Nation Can’t Be Overstated

A small crowd was on hand to witness the first saltie of the season, the Federal Churchill, travel under the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth on April 8. An increase in foreign shipments to the port of Duluth-Superior in 2019 earned the port its 17th Pacesetter award. (File / News Tribune)


As our world persists during this global pandemic, we gratefully acknowledge the essential services performed by our nation’s maritime workers to keep commerce and cargo moving while also supporting our regional economy during a time of peril.

Friday was National Maritime Day, which commemorated the 201st anniversary of the first trans-Atlantic steamship crossing. This landmark event signaled a massive transformation in maritime transportation. No longer were ships subject to the whims of the wind. They could instead navigate the seas and deliver goods on a fixed schedule.

National Maritime Day also recognizes the significant contributions of America’s Merchant Marine, which answers our nation’s call in times of war and peace to ensure the flow of vital cargoes at home and abroad.

Waterborne shipping is vital to the United States’ industrial base. Immense freighters carry iron ore, limestone, coal, cement, and other raw materials across Lake Superior to and from the lower Great Lakes, supplying production of goods and the construction of infrastructure throughout the country.

Waterborne shipping also supplies our foodstuffs, carrying grain from North America’s heartland to mills throughout the country and the world. Additionally, tropical fruits and other exotic edibles arrive in the U.S. aboard oceangoing vessels.

Maritime shipping helps put the pasta on your plate, the phone in your pocket, and the car in your garage. Studies suggest that 90% of the world’s goods are transported by sea.

Over time, this supply chain has evolved into an intermodal transportation system linking ships, ports, highways, and railroads. Today, a majority of the world’s goods (by value) are shipped by container, including those handled at our CN Duluth Intermodal Terminal.

Each year, commercial shipping through the Port of Duluth-Superior generates more than $1 billion in business revenue and contributes more than $240 million in federal and state tax revenue. It also supports more than 7,800 jobs.

It’s difficult to overstate the value of commercial shipping by any measure.

Every day, but especially in recognition of National Maritime Day, we salute the men and women who keep this critical waterborne commerce flowing throughout our region and beyond.

In addition, we recognize the Merchant Marine patriotism, bravery and sacrifice that helped supply Allied victory in World War II, and continues supplying our nation today.


Source: Duluth News Tribune