A Belgian cargo ship dropped anchor this weekend in the Port of Cleveland, marking the inaugural voyage of a new export route between Antwerp and northeast Ohio. ideastream’s Brian Bull has the story:
Saturday morning found dozens of workers hustling to unload the ship with cranes and trucks.
A port official says the Fortunagracht arrived around 11pm Friday, and unloading would continue through Monday, breaking only for the Easter holiday. Wind energy components and heavy machinery were among the items shipped in from seven European nations.
Nearby, exports ready to go -- including a school bus bound for Germany -- waited to be loaded for the Fortunagracht’s return voyage.
David Gutheil, Vice President of Maritime and Logistics for the Port of Cleveland, says the goods come from companies across five Midwestern states, including Ohio. He’s hoping more will take advantage of this new, direct trade route as it will shave 4 to 5 days off the transit time compared to larger, busier ports out east.
“And then we can get that cargo in and out of the port quickly with no congestion issues," adds Gutheil. "If you’re going through East Coast ports, the delays are much more significant due to congestion issues, lack of capacity.”
Port authorities announced its agreement with the Dutch Company, the Spliethoff Group, last fall. The Fortunagracht is scheduled to head back to Antwerp later this week.
Stay tuned to 90.3 as we’ll have more coverage Tuesday afternoon. Local – and European – officials are holding a press conference to further discuss the Cleveland-Europe Express.