Special Report: Monster Ships - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Special Report: Monster Ships

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Lake freighters are the biggest ships on the Great Lakes. The 1,000 footers spend 10 months of the year hauling cargo. But for a period of time each winter, they are in port for repairs. Often it's here in Erie.

 We got an exclusive look on board one of the giant ships now docked on the bayfront. It's the Edwin Gott, a 35 year old freighter built to carry huge loads of iron ore. There are stairs everywhere. So workers doing the winter repairs get a real work out.

 John Thibodeau of the Great Lakes Fleet said, "You try not to forget any tools you might need. You take everything you need plus a little more."

This winter much of the work is focused on updating the huge generators that provide electrical power to the ship. And the clock is always ticking. Contractors have just 2 months to get their work done. Plus some of the work must be done outside, a big challenge during winter storms.

But it pays well. The price tag for this winter work on the Gott is about $3 million.

 Tod Eagleton of Erie Sand & Gravel said, "It's a boost to the economy."

 Despite the incredible size, the ship sails with a crew of just 22.

 A second 1,000 foot freighter, Presque Isle is also now undergoing winter repairs in Erie.

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