The Port of Cleveland this month responded to global supply chain problems by expanding the Cleveland-Europe Express service with a container-only vessel. This is the first Great Lakes container-only shipping route to and from Europe.
When the Cleveland-Europe Express service first launched in 2014, the Port used multi-purpose vessels to manage both non-containerized and containerized cargo, said Dave Gutheil, Chief Commercial Officer at the Port of Cleveland. But due to global delays in container shipments, the Port partnered with Dutch company Spliethoff to acquire a vessel that handles only containers. This will allow for more access to Midwest markets and broadens the scope of the Port’s capabilities.
With the addition of this vessel, the Peyton Lynn C, the Port expects shipping business to grow by 30% to 50%.
Gutheil said in the last 12 to 18 months, container shipping prices have skyrocketed while congestion at ports on the West and East Coasts has created logistical problems for businesses relying on foreign imports and exports.
The Port of Cleveland can get goods into customer’s hands faster than if businesses were to go through large coastal ports. If you are a shipper in the Midwest, you can get that cargo to the Port of Cleveland two to three days in advance of the vessel sailing. The Port’s main gate is a two-lane in, two-lane out system, which reduces wait time for trucking companies. Once loaded on the ship in Cleveland, container cargo will move out through the St. Lawrence Seaway and arrive at the Port of Antwerp in 14 to 15 days.
Gutheil said containers are sitting in larger ports for days and sometimes weeks as shipping demand increases every August to October in preparation for holiday shopping. Labor shortages have increasing loading and unloading wait times.
The Port of Cleveland’s smaller scale also means cargo is easier to track and turnaround times are shorter.
The current container service is bi-weekly, and the addition of the Peyton Lynn brings the total to three sailings a month. The short-term goal for the Cleveland-Europe Express is to provide weekly service with at least four sailings per month.
During the annual St. Lawrence Seaway shutdown in January to about mid-March for maintenance on the series of seven locks, the Express is still operating through warehousing at the Port of Cleveland and direct rail connections to coastal ports. This ensures a seamless 12-month operational window.