Robert F. Dorn has devoted his professional life to the Great Lakes shipping industry. He began his maritime career in 1976, when he was hired by The Interlake Steamship Company as Assistant Personnel Supervisor because of his background dealing with management and union issues and anticipated changes in marine technology. He exemplifies a true hawsepipe, deck side mariner, advancing through increasingly senior positions with Interlake as Personnel Manager, Operations Manager; Fleet Port Captain, and Vice President of Operations. He was named Senior Vice President of The Interlake Steamship Company in 1988.
Mr. Dorn’s career has spanned the Great lakes merchant marine industry’s transition from the traditional, coal-fired, reciprocating steam engines and straight deckers to the modern, 1,000 foot-long, diesel-powered, fully-automated, self-unloaders, and self-unloading, articulated tug/barge operations.
Mr. Dorn was instrumental in supplying operational insights as Interlake moved to private ownership by James R. Barker. Through innovative fiscal management practices and collaborative union contracts, he also added valuable expertise and leadership when Interlake restructured again as it weathered repeated steel industry collapses.
Mr. Dorn continues to be a sought after presence by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for dredging and maintenance projects. He initiated an informal system of conference calls with other vessel operators to monitor ice conditions and vessel traffic, which has now been adopted formally by the United States Coast Guard. Mr. Dorn directed the implementation of the United States Coast Guard’s Streamlined Inspection Program in which Interlake is the only U.S.-Flag company on the Great Lakes in full partnership with the Coast Guard. He continues to work with Federal and State Environmental Protection Agencies on invasive species and water quality issues in the Great Lakes.
As Senior Vice President, Mr. Dorn leads the operations of The Interlake Steamship Company, the largest privately-held U.S.-Flag Great Lakes fleet. He is responsible for providing safe, efficient, reliable marine transport of bulk cargo throughout the Great Lakes.
He is an active member of many professional associations and currently serves on the Great Lakes Maritime Task Force; Lake Carriers’ Association’s Board of Directors, Advisory Committee, and Navigation Committee; Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association’s Board of Trustees; Board of Governors of Northwestern Michigan College/Great lakes Maritime Academy; and the Board of Directors for Arvak Ltd. of Bermuda.
In addition, Mr. Dorn is a past President of The Propeller Club of the United States-Port of Cleveland and a Trustee of The Great Lakes Historical Society. He is a member of the International Ship Masters’ Association and American Bureau of Shipping, and has chaired and served on numerous committees of lake Carriers’ Association. He is also a Past President of the Clifton Club, spent five years on the Bay Village Board of Education’s Citizen Advisory Board, and served as a volunteer for Lake Erie Nature and Science Center and Lorain County Habitat for Humanity.
A Lakewood, Ohio, native, Mr. Dorn earned a B.A. from Hiram College. He is married to Deborah Kidder Dorn. They have two children, Elizabeth Dorn Mather (Jason) and Philip R. Dorn, and three grandchildren.