TOLEDO (WTVG) - The Port of Toledo helps provide a living for thousands of people in our area. Hundreds of ships sail in and out of here every year loaded with everything from iron ore to grain. But it's not just the cargo that's paying big dividends for the region. It's also the work being done to keep those ships out on the water.
The Toledo Shipyard has been part of the local landscape for more than 150 years. During the off-season freighters, barges,tankers and tugs come to the Ironhead dry dock for repair work. It creates dozens of jobs and generates millions in revenue.
While you've probably seen freighters and other boats navigating the Maumee River, this is a vantage point you don't often see. It's the bottom of the dry dock. Crews have been working on the Algoscotia for weeks. Tony LaMantia says the ship's massive propeller helps put it all in perspective, "The blades alone are about 7 feet tall and the hubs are about 5 feet thick, so it's 18-20 feet for the total pitch."
The Algoscotia is a 480-foot Canadian tanker, "We set concrete blocks in the dry dock to the contour of the hull. The keel of this vessel carries most of the weight, so that's where most of the block and cribbing are positioned."
Ironhead is one of only a handful of dry docks around the Great Lakes.and this has been a good year. LaMantia says the Algoscotia is one of more than a half dozen boats that have been here in the off season for repair work. "We have boats that come in from from both Canadian and American fleets."
Of course the river and Lake Erie are among the reasons Toledo was originally settled. Joe Cappel is the Vice President of Business Development for the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. He says work at the Toledo Shipyard started with paddle boats in the early 1800s, "The shipyard has been here since 1828. We've been building ships and repairing ships for a long time. We have a rich history of that here in Toledo."
Boats have been providing jobs here for generations. Cappel says about seven thousand jobs in our region are connected to the Port of Toledo, "That equals about one billion dollars in economic impact for the region."
LaMantia says this work provides all kinds of jobs, "We employ union boilermakers and union machinists and various subcontractors like electricians and painters."
Just to give you an idea of the scope of this work, LaMantia says repairs on vessels like the Algoscotia often add up to millions of dollars, "These projects are typically $1.5 Million up to several million dollars. We do handle some smaller jobs for a few hundred thousand. It's all done in a compressed time frame too, so the work is done in a 3-4 week time frame at most."
Once the repair work in the dry dock is done, what's called the flooding process begins. Our cameras captured it from the ground and the air Tuesday afternoon. As you can see the barrier that kept water out of the dry dock for weeks, gradually releases water back into the dock and the boat is once again floating.
LaMantia says it's a lengthy process, "It's a 4-10 hour process to flood the dock, ballast the vessel and open the gate. Then we pull the vessel back out with a couple of tugs." Just one more way the river that runs thorough our city is providing a living for so many.
The flooding process for the Algoscotia is still going on at this hour.
That will likely continue for a few more hours. Once that's finished, the tanker will be tied to a dock at the shipyard for a few days while testing is finished. From there, the ship and her crew will begin the 2019 sailing season.