The Port of Cleveland said it plans to start a regularly scheduled express ocean shipping service between Cleveland Harbor and Europe in April.
The Cleveland-Europe Express Ocean Freight Service will be the only scheduled international container service on the Great Lakes.
“Currently, local manufacturers use East Coast ports to ship goods to Europe, incurring additional rail and truck costs along the way,” said Will Friedman, president and chief executive officer of the Ohio port, in a statement. “The Cleveland Europe-Express will allow local companies to ship out of their own backyards, simplifying logistics and reducing shipping costs.”
The service will allow regional companies to ship their goods up to four days faster than using water, rail and truck routes via the U.S. East Coast ports, the port said. The Cleveland-Europe Express is estimated to carry anywhere from 250,000 tons to 400,000 tons of cargo per year. This volume equates to about 10 percent-15 percent of Ohio’s trade with Europe, according to state officials.
The port authority said it’s in final negotiations with the Dutch company Spliethoff Group to run the service via the Saint Lawrence Seaway. “The port will not have to invest any capital costs to start the service and has designed the service to be revenue generating, which it will reinvest in maintaining job-producing infrastructure, cleaning up ship-channel infrastructure, and opening up the waterfronts to public access,” the port authority said.
Spliethoff Group transports various cargoes, such as heavy lift, general cargo, forest products, project-based machinery, and yachts. It owns and operates a fleet of about 100 multi-purpose, heavy-lift, and roll-on/roll-off vessels ranging in size from 9,500 tons to 21,000 tons, all of which fly under the Dutch flag.
“Spliethoff Group regularly looks for new business opportunities in which to utilize our vessel capacity, and we are excited about the prospect of partnering with the Port of Cleveland on this venture,” Bart Peters, manager of Spliethoff Group’s America service.
Mark Chesnes, founder, chairman and president of InterChez Corp., explained the cost of moving oversized, break bulk cargo to East Coast ports by truck or rail to ship is expensive. But having service out of the Port of Cleveland will greatly reduce those costs. “The companies that make manufacturing equipment in the region can suddenly become more competitive because they won’t have to incur the large costs to get their equipment to port,” he said.