Great Lakes welcomes regular dedicated liner service

The Great Lakes now has a regular container shipping service linking the North American heartland to Europe.

Spliethoff has partnered with the Port of Cleveland to provide regular monthly container services on the St Lawrence Seaway between the ports of Antwerp, Belgium; Picton in Ontario, Canada; and Cleveland. The Cleveland-Europe Express is using the Peyton Lynn C, an 869 teu that is 140.67 m long and 23.28 m wide.

The ship has been taken on charter by Spliethoff from Doornekamp Shipping Services, a family owned business based in Odessa, Ontario, about 12 miles from Kingston. It also owns and operates Picton Terminals, located in Prince Edward County in northeast Lake Ontario and has been leading the charge to get greater liner connectivity into the Great Lakes of late. The ship is on Lake Erie this morning on its first rotation from Europe to North America.

Prior to chartering the Peyton Lynn C, Spliethoff had been using multipurpose tweendecker vessels to link the Great Lakes with Europe over the past seven years.

“This extra pure container vessel is just another step in building the Great Lakes trade,” Spliethoff stated in a release.

The Port of Cleveland has established a foreign trade zone (FTZ) to overcome one of the major hurdles that the new service will face, namely the annual two-month closure of the St Lawrence Seaway for lock maintenance.

Cleveland’s FTZ allows import duties to be deferred indefinitely as long as these goods remain in place.

Speaking with the Ohio Times, Dave Gutheil, chief commercial officer for the Port of Cleveland, discussed how liner shipping had all but disappeared from the Great Lakes as container ships got larger and larger over the decades.

“The container business pretty much went away in the Great Lakes in the mid-1970s when ships got much bigger and containerisation really exploded. From the perspective of containerisation, the Great Lakes have been forgotten,” Gutheil said.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Fantastic development f a long-term vision by the Spliethoff guys, who have struggled against all sorts of headwinds and adversity. A genuine pioneering and entrepreneurial effort in a world of opportunists and profiteers.

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