Much of the world’s maritime industry has been rushing to take advantage of the larger locks at the Panama Canal by building wider ships but one Polish company is continuing to operate narrow-beamed tonnage across the North Atlantic to trade into the Great Lakes.

Polska Zegluga Morska PP, better known as Polsteam, or the Polish Steamship Co, is taking delivery of 18 ships from two yards in China.

The Yangfan facility at Tianjin is completing a dozen 38,000dwt bulk carriers designed for worldwide operation while competitor Jiangsu Yangzijiang is building six smaller 36,500dwt for Great Lakes trading.

Many of the vessels have already been delivered, with the remainder due out later this year or in early 2018, but Polsteam has already indicated it may order further ships, despite a lagging market for dry bulk transport.

The Polish company currently operates a fleet of 75 vessels totaling over 2,500,000dwt, the majority of which are dry bulkers but a number of tank ships are also operated, as are several Baltic Sea ferries employed by subsidiary company Unity Line.

Report by Jim Shaw