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Cleveland and Spliethoff plan Seaway service to Europe

Spliethof StatengrachtOCTOBER 25, 2013 — The Port of Cleveland plans this week to start a regularly scheduled express freight shipping service between the Cleveland Harbor and Europe utilizing the Saint Lawrence Seaway, starting next April.

Spliethoff's M/V Statengracht

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 William Friedman, president & CEO of the Port of Cleveland. "The Cleveland Europe-Express will allow local companies to ship out of their own backyards, simplifying logistics and reducing shipping costs."

The Port is in final negotiations with Spliethoff Group of the Netherlands to run the service via the Saint Lawrence Seaway. The company owns and operates a fleet of about 100 multi-purpose, heavy-lift, and ro-ro vessels ranging in size from 9,500 to 21,000 tons, all of which sail 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, said. "We believe that providing scheduled, reliable capacity to the America's industrial heartland via the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence Seaway routing will enable shippers to connect more efficiently to the European continent."

Estimates are that the Cleveland-Europe Express is estimated to carry anywhere from 250,000 to 400,000 tons of cargo per year. This volume equates to approximately 10-15% of Ohio's trade with Europe.

"This service will be a game changer for manufacturers in the region, keeping shipping dollars local, while opening our shores to the global market in a new way," Mr. Friedman said.

Betty Sutton, administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation called the new service "a breakthrough for Great Lakes shipping" and says it will establishi the Port of Cleveland as the only port with scheduled international container service in the Great Lakes," Sutton said.

Marc Krantz, chairman of the Port of Cleveland Board, explained that the Port pursued this direct route export and import service to Europe as a way to spur job creation and to help the Northeast Ohio region and the Midwest compete globally by connecting businesses to world markets. "We expect there to be a lot of indirect benefit to companies who service the Port as a result of increased cargo coming through Cleveland Harbor," Krantz said.

The Port is in final negotiations with the Dutch company Spliethoff Group to run the service via the Saint Lawrence Seaway. Bart Peters, manager of Spliethoff Group's America Service, explained that Spliethoff Group plays a leading role worldwide in the transport market for various cargoes. The company owns and operates a fleet of about 100 multi-purpose, heavy-lift, and ro-ro vessels ranging in size from 9,500 to 21,000 tons, all of which sail 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," Peters said. "We believe that providing scheduled, reliable capacity to the America's industrial heartland via the Great Lakes/Saint Lawrence Seaway routing will enable shippers to connect more efficiently to the European continent."

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