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St. Lawrence Seaway Opens for Shipping Early

Picture of the Port of Cleveland

The St. Lawrence Seaway opened today, kicking off its 58th season of shipping on the Great Lakes. Because of the lack of ice this past winter, the event is two weeks earlier than usual. WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports on the early opening’s impact on Cleveland’s shipping industry.

The St. Lawrence Seaway gives the Port of Cleveland international access for freighters exporting steel and machinery and for imports coming to the region. Jade Davis is with the Port of Cleveland. He says the seaway and its early opening are boons for the local shipping industry, especially for the Cleveland-Europe Express which transports cargo twice monthly to and from Belgium.

“Since we started the Cleveland-Europe Express, the tonnage of international cargo has increased dramatically, by at least 15 percent over the last couple of years.”

The Express system is planning to include stops in India as well.  The Port of Cleveland is the closest major U.S. port of call on the St. Lawrence Seaway system.  And Davis says the overall shipping outlook for Cleveland this season is positive.

“We’re anticipating to have a lot of steel and steel aggregates within the steel- maker process. We’re expecting a lot of iron ore and possibly some more steel coming in dealing with the shale and things like that again this year. And so we’re expecting some growth this year in cargo overall.”    

Davis says, with the lack of ice, some inter-lake shipping activity is underway a little earlier than usual.

“Some of them have begun conducting everything from ship tows to getting ships positioned for cargo pickup and delivery and things like that. So we started seeing within Cleveland harbor action toward the end of February.”

Davis says the season’s first ship is scheduled to arrive at the Port of Cleveland on March 30th.  Last year’s first freighter was scheduled to arrive April 7th, but was delayed because of too much ice.