GREAT LAKES/SEAWAY’S FIRST COMMITTED CONTAINER VESSEL JOINS CLEVELAND EUROPE EXPRESS
There’s a unique vessel trading in the system. Peyton Lynn C is a dedicated container ship that can carry 850 TEUs, with reefer plugs for 200. Originally purchased by Doornekamp Construction to launch a feeder line service between the Lake Ontario port and Halifax, the ship is now under long-term charter to Spliethoff.
Peyton Lynn C has joined the Cleveland Europe Express (CEE)—doubling the number of ships transporting cargo between the Great Lakes/Seaway and Antwerp, Belgium. While the partnership was being formed, the ship was being outfitted at a Baltic yard for passing through the system’s locks.
For her maiden voyage, the ship loaded in Antwerp August 23 and headed across the Atlantic. After a 12-day transit, she delivered containerized cargo to Picton, Ontario. She then sailed three more days to unload at Cleveland, Ohio, and take on new containers for the return trip—all part of the dedicated service which has been operating since 2014.
“The reason we took the vessel on charter is demand,” says Bart Peters, Great Lakes/Atlantic regional representative for Spliethoff. His company approached Doornekamp about joining forces. “Our shared vision is developing the Great Lakes trade. This extra, pure-container vessel is just another step in building the Great Lakes trade. There’s more to come.”
Peyton Lynn C was built in 2007 and formerly sailed under the Antigua Barbuda flag. She previously sailed as Gesina Schepers and Eemsdijk.
Two onboard cranes were temporarily removed to accommodate the system’s locks. According to Graham Seymour, Picton Terminal General Manager, the cranes are being modified and will be reinstalled during the next drydock. For now, onshore cranes are being used. Picton has also purchased container handling equipment to move and stack containers.
“We are prepared to receive up to 500 loaded containers and to export the same,” Seymour says, noting an expectation to move heavy containers because of weight restrictions for road and rail. An example of this type of containerized cargo is scrap steel.
Based on demand, Picton will begin as a monthly stop along the CEE.
Picton Terminals is owned by the Doornekamp family, which also owns Doornekamp Construction and Hendriks Aggregates. It has a final mile trucking partnership and is versed in shipping road salt, aggregates, farming products, heavy-lift cargo, containers, dry bulk, new steel products and recycled scrap steel.
Doornekamp Construction purchased Picton Terminals in 2014. It has since refurbished the port and, in 2020, purchased the tug Amy Lynn D and a new flat deck barge Jacob Joseph C from Damen Marine Services to support its marine construction projects.
Since CEE launched eight years ago, container and breakbulk cargo has been moved on Spliethoff’s tweendeckers, multi-purpose vessels that can adapt based on contracted cargo for each voyage. The versatility has allowed the feeder line to move steel, project cargo, forest products, windmill components, bulk cargo and on-deck containers.
Sailings occur year-round, twice monthly. “Now, with this full container vessel we take the next step,” Peters says, noting that adding container capacity allows the service to offer the market pure-container capacity, both coming into the Great Lakes and sailing back to Europe.
Congested land-based transportation on the East Coast is prompting shippers and receivers to look at more inland waterborne options. Regional companies like Picton Terminals, Spliethoff, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and Hamilton Container Terminal are expanding their visions and infrastructure to move more cargo in boxes.
Global orders for container ships are on the rise. For the first half of 2021, contracts to build these ocean-going ships more than doubled the orders placed in 2019 and 2020, according to VesselsValue Ltd. A short-term dip in maritime trade—prepandemic— has turned into a shortage of carrying capacity as companies struggle to restock warehouses and shelves.
“The current world market in containers is changing,” says Seymour. “Every day, there is new demand. There’s a domestic uptick because of this.”
Seeing the trend and having Dutch ownership accustomed to the waterborne freight domination in Europe, Picton purchased Peyton Lynn C with intentions to launch its own service—connecting the port with one of the region’s container giants—Halifax, Nova Scotia. Marketing itself as Doornekamp Lines, the company was approached by Spliethoff with an offer to charter the vessel for two years and include Picton Terminals as a regular stop.
As Seymour puts it, the port has the benefit of being within two hours of the Metro Toronto area. Peters, too, mentioned the value of having access the area. Picton now joins regional stops that include Valleyfield, Quebec; Ramey’s Bend, Ontario; Cleveland, Ohio; Monroe, Michigan; Chicago, Illinois; Thunder Bay, Ontario; and Duluth, Minnesota.
Our shared vision is developing the Great Lakes trade. This extra, pure-container vessel is just another step in building the Great Lakes trade. There’s more to come.
— Bart Peters, Great Lakes/Atlantic regional representative, Spliethoff
“It’s been our goal to help initiate container trade in the Great Lakes, to get it further into the system than Montreal,” Seymour says. “There are smaller ports that can get the containers to huge markets.”
Cleveland Diversifies Cargo
The driving force behind CEE has always been improved service for shippers. The sailing distance between Antwerp and Cleveland is 3,745 nautical miles. The sailing distance between Antwerp and Baltimore, Maryland is already 3,653 nautical miles—and then containers must be transloaded to truck or rail to travel another 375 road miles to reach the Cleveland port. The same rationale is being used at other ports as the idea of moving containers throughout the system gains momentum.
Cleveland Europe Express (CEE) Route
“The potential savings on double handling and longer trucking/ rail transport—both in time and money—benefits customers,” Peters says, adding that water transportation can accommodate greater volume and deliver better environmental results.
The Port of Cleveland is Spliethoff’s original David Gutheil partner. In addition to moving containers for regional manufacturers, the port has discovered a market for shipping yachts across the ocean, says David Gutheil, chief commercial officer for Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority.
“At the beginning, there were more containers than project cargo,” he adds. “Each year is different. When we started this, bringing yachts into the Great Lakes and into Cleveland wasn’t even a thought.”
Marketing itself as Doornekamp Lines, the company was approached by Spliethoff with an offer to charter the vessel for two years and include Picton Terminals as a regular stop.
The containers themselves are a commodity because demand is strong to move them back to Europe. With companies like Home Depot and GM chartering vessels to improve logistics, and Amazon becoming its own transportation network by purchasing planes and trucks, the carrier and the ports along the feeder line see new and expanding opportunities.
“We’re always trying to be creative and improve on what we have,” Gutheil says. “We have the scanning equipment to clear containers and other ports don’t.”
As CEE enters a new era, Spliethoff continues to make cargo and delivery decisions. And with the new partnership, Peyton Lynn C carries the name of both Spliethoff and Doornekamp for onlookers to see as she sails past.
Janenne Irene Pung ■
MEET THE TEAM
Nelson “Spence” Spencer Jr.
Nelson “Spence” Spencer, Jr. is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Bound Media Group as well as publisher of Great Lakes/Seaway Review. Additionally he is the third generation Spencer to man the helm as publisher of The Waterways journal, a 134-year-old weekly trade journal, and for other Bound Media Group’s publications, such as Marina Dock Age, International Dredging Review (IDR), the Inland River Guide, Inland River Record and Quimby’s Cruising Guide.
After graduating from DePauw University and working for a law firm in Denver, Spence joined The Waterways Journal staff in advertising sales and then also as business manager until he worked his way to being named publisher. With a passion for growing B2B and B2C connections that server consumers and businesses alike, Spence continue to develop media publications to serve its constituents far into the future.
Janenne Irene Pung has been Editor of Great Lakes/Seaway Review for 16 years. During her time with the magazine, she has represented the company at binational meetings, more fully activated the Editorial Advisory Board, developed new departments and evolved editorial styles.
Prior to joining Harbor House Publishers, Pung worked in mainstream media as a reporter and editor. She then moved into risk communications for the nuclear industry, documenting (visually and in writing) and communicating the process of decommissioning a plant and returning the lakeside property to a natural state.
In addition to being a professional, Pung is a wife and mother. She teaches life skills at a woman’s transition home and is a member of the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office Victim Services Unit. In both roles, she helps people work through trauma.
Digital Media Director
As Digital Media Director with Bound Media Group, my desire is to help develop effective digital strategies for our advertising partners across all our publications. Whether it is a custom print publication or advertising in one of our many properties such as The Waterways Journal, Harbor House or High Plains Journal, I am here to help you navigate the digital landscape.
I also have my own film company and enjoy teaching at Wichita State University and Southwestern College such as film production, storytelling, editing, computer science, web development, business strategies and marketing.
“For years, Great Lakes/Seaway Review was the monster project in our office that I didn’t have to tackle. When becoming Creative Director, I was nervous about the daunting task of designing the magazine. Since then, the team has worked hard to modernize our look and make the magazine as beautiful as it is informative.”
“Growing up, the Great Lakes were a place to swim and watch sunsets. After helping produce the magazine, I’ve learned that they are home to an entire network of companies which provide materials that support my everyday life. Each time I send the magazine to press and help prepare the digital edition, I feel a deep sense of accomplishment.”
Michelle Cortright is Publisher-Emeritus of Great Lakes/Seaway Review and Harbor House Publishers. She purchased the business from her father, diversifying the company into custom publications for chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. It has and continues to assist in regional business growth by creating business magazines, visitor guides and aiding clients with image development.
As Publisher, Cortright oversaw every aspect of product creation, which encompassed the editorial and business sides of print, digital and mobile publications. She met with our clients, which we consider true partners, spearheaded business development and was always looking ahead for “the next thing.”
She is the mother of an adult son, who is now a business owner in the same town, and is married to Rod Cortright, who pretends to be retired but remains involved as our corporate pilot and jack-of-all-trades.
“For several years I worked with a Mackinac Island, Michigan-based company and had the pleasure of photographing and taking videos of vessels passing through the Straits of Mackinac, especially the Round Island passage. My love and admiration for them was formed—and continues to grow. I now have the pleasure of working in the maritime industry and understand how important and vital these vessels are to our region and the economy. My goal is to work with our partners in the industry to help us all reach our collective best in the years ahead.”
Senior Account Manager
“Great Lakes/Seaway Review knits together every aspect of the Great Lakes commercial maritime industry from deckhands to CEOs to ports.”
Senior Account Manager
“I’ve known the magazine since Volume 1, first as a consultant in St. Paul working with Great Lakes clients and later as the Great Lakes Commission Executive Director, partnering with Jacques LesStrang. The last 30 years, I’ve worked on the inside.
“What makes Great Lakes/Seaway Review different is informed advocacy. Everything in the magazine is informed, factual and researched. We have spearheaded and partnered in research that led us to advocate for season extension, forgiveness of Seaway debt and removal of tolls, designation of the Fourth Seacoast, recognition and control of invasive species and many other issues benefitting the system today.
“Informed advocacy draws people to Great Lakes/Seaway Review for information and understanding—and it’s what makes it valuable to our advertisers and our readers.”
“Any successful business relies on timely, accurate information to stay ahead in their industry. Great Lakes/Seaway Review magazine is a trusted source of news and analysis of information needed by all members of the maritime community.”
“Historically, many of my family members have traveled the Great Lakes as ship captains, first mates and engineers. In fact, I had a family member perish when the Bradley went down in November 1958. As a child, my aunt would take me to the port in Rogers City to watch the ships load and unload their cargo. The mystique and beauty of the Great Lakes have been of particular interest to me.
“For the past 26 years, I have had the privilege of working with this talented team, which truly supports and advocates for the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system.”
“I have early childhood memories of my dad loading us in the car on a Sunday afternoon and driving up to the Soo to watch the boats go through the locks, eat ice cream and buy saltwater taffy. I still go several times during the season. I have always loved that you can talk to the sailors on the ships—asking them where they’ve been and what they’re hauling. It’s like the whole world is at your doorstep.”
“Lake ports can grow no faster than shipping will permit. Shipping cannot grow beyond the capabilities of the ports. Yet neither has come close to reaching their present potential and will not until the savings in time and in dollars is fully understood by those who make the decisions on how and when and where to move goods. To the ends of development and information, the Seaway Review dedicates itself.”
Editor from 1985-2003
“Jacques LesStrang, founder of Great Lakes/Seaway Review, had many talents, or “skill sets,” as we say today. But one that served him particularly well throughout his career as a writer, editor, publisher, publicist, etc., was his knack for knowing a good story when he saw it. And the story he recognized in 1969—the 10th anniversary of the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway—was as good as it gets. In fact, that story was so good it is still being told today, 50 years later.
“The publication created by LesStrang, or “J.L.” as his staff knew him, to mark the Seaway’s 10th anniversary was so well done, and so well received, that it grew legs, as it were, and took off running as a full-color, high-quality quarterly which became the most widely recognized chronicler of the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway system. Having Great Lakes/Seaway Review continue in that role today speaks volumes about the ongoing commitment of the current Publisher Michelle Cortright to Jacques LesStrang’s vision and high standards. Staying competitive in today’s information scrum is challeng-ing, to say the least, for print media. It requires dynamic, well-researched, topical content presented accurately and in a visually compelling format. In other words, it requires telling a good story. That was true in 1969, it is still true today and nobody tells it better than Great Lakes/Seaway Review.”