Cleveland (AP) - The Port of Cleveland plans to offer direct, scheduled freight shipping to ports in northern Europe starting in April.

Port leaders say the plan announced this week would provide the only scheduled international container service on the great lakes.

They say the monthly service, via the saint lawrence seaway, means businesses in the region will be able to ship goods faster and save money by skipping east coast stops.

They estimate the service will annually haul hundreds of tons of cargo, such as industrial and consumer products and automotive equipment.

The plan is for an Amsterdam-based company, the Spliethoff Group, to manage the service and provide the ships. The Port of Cleveland wouldn't subsidize the service or invest capital under the deal, which hasn't been finalized.

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