In December 2013, Dutch shipping company Spliethoff and The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority in Cleveland, Ohio struck a deal to start the first combined container and general cargo shipping route between Cleveland and Northern Europe. Now with the opening of the Great Lakes, the first shipment is underway to Cleveland.

The route dubbed the ‘Cleveland-Europe Express’ (CEE) has just opened for the season, slightly late due to the cold winter conditions in North America. The Fortunagracht, one of Spliethoff modern multipurpose vessels, loaded its first containers and project cargo at the port of Antwerp for its 12-day journey arriving mid April. The route will take the vessel from the Atlantic Ocean through the Saint Lawrence Seaway, a system of locks, canals and channels to the Port of Cleveland in the Great Lakes.

In Europe, through Bills of Lading offering door to door service, Spliethoff’s utilizes its rapid European logistics network between Antwerp and Russia, Finland, Baltic States, Poland, UK and Spain. In the U.S., Spliethoff Cleveland will take care of onward connections to and from Cleveland and the Midwest. Spliethoff will operate a year round service. Cargo will range from containers to project cargoes such as yachts, windmill equipment, heavy lifts, and breakbulk cargo such as steel and dry bulk.

Spliethoff Group

Amsterdam-based Spliethoff Group is one of the largest shipping companies in the Netherlands with a fleet of over 100 multipurpose vessels ranging in size from 2,100 to 23,000 tonnes. The group consists of Spliethoff and subsidiaries BigLift Shipping (heavy-lift), Sevenstar Yacht Transport (yacht transport), Wijnne Barends (short sea), Transfennica (liner service for Ro-Ro and containers) and Transfennica Logistics (door to door). Spliethoff has vast experience sailing the Great Lakes and sees great potential in this new contract. The partnership will mean that more European businesses can reach Midwestern markets and vice versa. The Dutch ice-classed ships that can sail through the seaway will operate a fast direct monthly scheduled service between Cleveland and Antwerp.