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Planet CLE: Cleveland's Argonauts on a quest to keep waterways clean and safe

Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School students spend classroom time on a barge, helping to make an impact on Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River.

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A group of high school students are spending some classroom time on the water. They take their name from the Greek Myth of Jason and the Argonauts, though they are not on the hunt for the golden fleece. Instead, they are on a quest to keep our waterways clean and safe.

The crew casts lines from a small barge that is doing yeoman's work on our local waterways.

The Port of Cleveland owns 2 vessels, appropriately named "Flotsam" and "Jetsam" and they are crewed by Argonaut - the team of students from Davis Aerospace and Maritime High School.

"Big logs will get stuck in propellers and it will bend the propellers. And that's not good for the freighters that will go up and down the river," said Argonaut Captain Aidan Hall. 

The crane on board lifts up to 4,000 pounds and has pulled everything from 50-foot tall trees, to smaller branches from waterways. Once pulled on board, the crew cuts them down to size. 

"Being out on the water doing stuff in the engine room, because I want to be a mechanical engineer on boats. That's going to be a big thing," said Devin Carrington, a senior at the high school.

The crew also cleans the North Coast Harbor and local marinas. Carrington says Argonaut collects far more trash than natural debris. "More plastic than any other thing we picked up. Just mostly water bottles."  

Their work is helping researchers learn more about Lake Erie by deploying buoys with sensors to collect information.

"Our students are out on the water. They are contributing to the community, the health of the water and they are building empathy for our waterways, which is vital for the economic development of Cleveland," said Tim Sisson, Argonaut Program Director.

For now, mission accomplished! This day's clean-up is a success.

"It keeps the water looking beautiful. Keeps people wanting to go down into the river and walking along the Flats and going to all the restaurants," said Captain Hall.

For some of the students working on the boat this summer, it is their first job. And thanks to Youth Opportunities Unlimited, they are also earning a paycheck.

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