Wagenborg has been active in the shipping business for over a century. We used to sail the Baltic Sea and the North Sea but gradually expanded our sailing areas. Over the past decades, the recognizable sight of the name Wagenborg, emblazoned on our vessels’ hulls, has been increasingly spotted in many ports around the Great Lakes. With the changing dynamics in the shipping industry, shipping companies like Royal Wagenborg have managed to stay in the forefront of a rapidly changing industry.
Smaller cargoes in the range of 8,000 to 12,000 tonnes appear to be a trend that will likely continue for the foreseeable future. With chronic low water level issues in the Upper Great Lakes, larger vessels in the 35,000-tonne capacity are finding it difficult to load to their potential. Wagenborg’s fleet consists of over 180 vessels, ranging in size from 1,000 to 23,000 tonnes. The Dutch company has revolutionized the dry-cargo segment with ice-strengthened bulk carriers and multipurpose vessels. Wagenborg’s reputation for exemplary cargo handling has served the shipping community well. Shippers around the world have discovered that they can count on this company to “cut the cloth to fit the suit” and deliver their cargo in a timely and cost-effective manner. During the past decade, the number of transits of Wagenborg vessels through the Great Lakes has been growing steadily.
Wagenborg has played an increasingly larger role in all areas of shipping at many ports around the Great Lakes. Tim Heney, Thunder Bay Port Authority CEO: “Wagenborg is a frequent visitor to the port. Its ships are flexible and can easily handle a variety of cargo. The relatively small size of its vessels appeals to a wide variety of shippers. The first vessels loaded and unloaded by our new crane were Wagenborg vessels, and we believe that this type of vessel, when combined with the capability of the new shore crane, can lead to a regular liner service between Thunder Bay and Europe, which we believe will generate new opportunities for cargo diversification in the port. Our quest in recent years has been to increase inbound cargo destined for Western Canada to take advantage of our readily available backhaul cargoes of grain, potash, coal, and now pulp.”
Pulp and paper – millions of tonnes
If it was up to Wagenborg, they would sail vessels full of pulp and paper from Europe to North America. Wagenborg has become an international shipping company and does not shy away from a direct line between the Great Lakes and Europe. After years of transatlantic journeys, it even became one of Wagenborg’s focus areas. Recently Wagenborg set a next step in her existence when the m.v. Reestborg and m.v. Reggeborg - the newest and largest type of vessels in the Wagenborg fleet - made their first transatlantic journeys to the Great Lakes. To illustrate our trading line between Europe and the great Lakes: the m.v. Reestborg recently loaded fertilizers in Riga destined for Three Rivers (St. Lawrence). On her way back, she loaded corn in Hamilton (Canada) for Waterford. The m.v. Reggeborg loaded steel plates and roles in Raahe (Finland) and Ust Luga (Russia) destined for Hamilton, Cleveland, Windsor, and Detroit. On the way back, the Reggeborg transported bentonite from Duluth to Amsterdam.
A versatile and ice-strengthened fleet
Wagenborg continuously strives to come up with intelligent logistics solutions. That is why the company applied her knowledge to trade between Europe and North America. Wagenborg’s experience with the limited accessibility of the Baltic region during the winter period helped in developing types of vessels that were ice-strengthened and could sail for a long time in winter conditions. Hudson Bay is quite similar to the Baltic, as you can sail there only between July and October. By using this knowledge intelligently, Wagenborg has an advantage in the North American market. With our ice-strengthened fleet, Wagenborg is able to make the crossing really early in the season.
R-class: a new step in versatility and efficiency
It’s quite simple – the larger the vessel, the wider the trading area. With the new R-class vessels, Wagenborg combines a large loading capacity of 23,000 DWT with low fuel consumption. The vessels are equipped with an innovative “eco-bow”, which performs well over the whole range of draughts, and especially in bad weather. With only 4,500 kW the R-class vessels are certified with the Swedish/ Finnish 1A Ice Class and represent the world’s most efficient ice-strengthened type of vessel suitable for worldwide trading, including transatlantic journeys. Thanks to an excellent ratio between cargo capacity and fuel consumption, the R-class is an efficient and versatile type of vessel, which already outperforms the IMO standards for 2025 thanks to its unconventional design.
Wagenborg presence in North America
Over the years, Wagenborg has acquired a solid reputation and position in North America. In 2003, Wagenborg opened a branch office in Montreal. One of the reasons was to bridge the time difference between Europe and North America. However, an even more important reason was to acquire local knowledge and to have a closer presence for American and Canadian customers.
Nowadays our vessels sail regularly between Europe and the Great Lakes, with cargoes varying between 6,000 and 16,000 megatons. From Europe we mostly ship steel, break bulk, fertilizers, and project cargoes to the main ports of the Great Lakes, such as Chicago, Detroit, Hamilton, and Duluth. Outbound to Europe we mostly ship agricultural products.