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Great Lakes shipping season drawing down early

DULUTH - A slowdown in the steel industry is producing a ripple effect on the Great Lakes -- or perhaps it could more properly be called a diminished-ripple effect.

Some lakers are laying up early, as steelmakers reduce their orders for iron pellets.

The Edward L. Ryerson arrived in Superior today for what many expect will be the end of its season. The ship was rumored to be arriving for winter layup at Fraser Shipyards, but its owner, Central Marine Logistics, remained in discussions with a potential client that could provide additional work for the vessel, at least for a while longer.

If its season has drawn to a close, the Ryerson will be the second laker to call it quits well before the Jan. 15 closure of the Soo Locks. The American Republic tied up Friday in Toledo.

American Steamship Co. also is rumored to be considering an early layup of the American Victory in the Twin Ports, but the company was unprepared to comment on the matter when contacted today.