Flotsam & Jetsam

Clean Up Cleveland

Dating back to 1868, the Cuyahoga River caught fire a total of 13 times, including a blaze in 1952, which caused over $1.3 million in damage.  The story garnered national attention when a photograph of the 1952 fire ran in Time Magazine just two months after the Cuyahoga River caught fire on June 22, 1969.

That image of the fire acted as a catalyst, calling for a major focus on environmental protection and sustainability. In 1972, the charge for environmental responsibility and protection was marked by the introduction of the Clean Water Act.

In an effort to sustain and support these efforts, the Port of Cleveland planned, designed, and built a pair of custom tandem vessels – Flotsam & Jetsam – with the purpose of collecting and removing plastic and organic floating debris from the Cuyahoga River along Cleveland Harbor.

Commissioned in 2012, Flotsam & Jetsam were predated by the vessel, Putzfrau — meaning ‘cleaning lady’ in German — that vacuumed up floating muck on the Cuyahoga River immediately after the 1969 fire.

Now, we celebrate over 50 years of restoration since the last fire on the Cuyahoga River.

The Port planned, designed, and built a pair of custom vessels – Flotsam and Jetsam – to capture and remove plastic and organic floating debris from Cleveland Harbor. Commissioned into service in late 2012, the Port operates both vessels from mid-May through mid-October.

Crewed by Argonaut, a team of students from Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School, vessels annually remove over 200,000 pounds of floating debris.

The Port of Cleveland is proud of our partnership with Argonaut, as these students not only play a vital role in keeping our shipping lanes open, but are also the future of our region’s maritime workforce.

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