Mark Ruge inducted into Great Lakes Marine Hall of Fame

Mark Ruge

Mark Ruge, a native of Menominee, Michigan, who has risen to be a leading advocate for a strong U.S.-flag merchant marine in the nation’s capital, was named Marine Man of the Year and inducted into the Great Lakes Marine Hall of Fame in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan September 7. With this selection, Ruge joins the ranks of the individuals who have made Great Lakes shipping the safest and most efficient mode of transportation in North America. He is the first lawyer selected for the Hall of Fame.

During his career, Ruge has been involved in a broad range of legislative initiatives to promote Great Lakes shipping. His work with Rep. Davis and others in blocking the decommissioning of the Mackinaw, the U.S. Coast Guard’s only full-powered icebreaker stationed on the Lakes, set in motion a campaign that would culminate in the christening of a new Mackinaw in 2006. When misapplication of the North American Emissions Control Area threatened to decimate the fleet of U.S.-flag steamships on the Great Lakes in 2008, Ruge and others worked with Congress to develop a new program that encouraged repowering of the vessels rather than a premature retirement that would have resulted in capacity shortfalls on the Great Lakes.

Ruge has been a tireless advocate for a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan and, this year, has seen President Trump endorse the project.

Ruge is probably best known for his staunch defense of the Jones Act and other U.S. maritime cabotage laws. He serves as counsel to the American Maritime Partnership and its forerunner, the Maritime Cabotage Task Force, which have turned back repeated attempts to gut the laws that require domestic waterborne commerce be conducted in vessels that are U.S.-owned, U.S.-built and U.S.-crewed.

Since 1997 Ruge has served as D.C. counsel for the Lake Carriers’ Association. He has also advocated for the three American Great Lakes Pilots Associations, the Great Lakes Maritime Academy in Traverse City, Michigan and five other U.S. maritime academies.

“It is fitting that Mark be inducted into the Great Lakes Marine Hall of Fame,” said John Wellington, President of Sault Historic Sites, the organization that operates the hall of fame. “Great Lakes shipping has greatly benefited from his body of work.”

James R. Barker, Chairman of The Interlake Steamship Company, one of the largest U.S.-flag carriers operating on the Great Lakes, credited Ruge with raising Great Lakes shipping’s profile in the halls of Congress and the White House.

“Great Lakes shipping was not fully appreciated in Washington until Mark took the legislative helm. Words cannot express my admiration for Mark,” he said.

“Mark’s advocacy for Great Lakes shipping has been an important part of our success,” said James H.I. Weakley, President of the Lake Carriers’ Association, the trade association representing Interlake and other U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleets. “His skills and wisdom have benefited our industry in countless ways.”

“Mark played an important role in saving the carferry Badger,” said Bob Manglitz, President of Lake Michigan Carferry Service, Inc. in Ludington, Michigan. “He and the K&L Gates team skillfully helped us reach an arrangement that allowed the vessel to continue to operate while we surmounted some engineering challenges that could have led to the Badger’s retirement.”

For more information on the Marine Hall of Fame, including past inductees going back to 1955, click here.

Maritime Editorial