CLEVELAND, May 25, 2023 — High school students and Argonaut employees are hard at work removing floating debris from the Cuyahoga River and North Coast Harbor using a pair of specially designed tandem Port of Cleveland vessels, Flotsam and Jetsam, that are back in the water to keep the navigation channel clean for commercial and recreational traffic. 

The Port of Cleveland contracts with Argonaut to captain the vessels and work with Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School students.  Argonaut’s mission is to build adventurers through immersive learning experiences that challenge assumptions and shift norms for growing empowered talent in aerospace and maritime fields. Argonaut co-leads the Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. 

Two to three Davis A&M students help out three to four days a week after school and then throughout the summer with the clean-up, as well as helping with special events including River Sweep, Blazing Paddles, rowing regattas and the July 4th boat parade. 

“Annually, the vessels remove on average 300,000 pounds of debris from the water,’’ said Jared Magyar, The Port’s Vice President of Operations and Facilities.

In addition to removing debris from the water, the students help with mechanical, fueling and safety inspections and operations of Flotsam and Jetsam.

Argonaut is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation founded by D. Andrew Ferguson and Douglas McConnell, incorporates a project-based learning environment and real-life experiences for Cleveland high school students, and increase the number of youths who enter careers in the fields of maritime and aerospace.

The partnership with the high school is growing. Recently the Port’s board of directors approved development of the Maritime Learning and Resource Center for the school.

“We’re enthusiastic about helping these high school students who are interested in careers on the water and keeping our waterways clean and safe,” said William Friedman, Port president and CEO.  “The center will give students a new learning space on the port and place where they can stow some of their gear and store their boats in the winter.”

Flotsam and jetsam are terms that describe two types of marine debris associated with vessels. Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship’s load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.

To see Flotsam & Jetsam in action: