Arrival of Eastern Canada’s largest ship-to-shore crane marks final stages of PSA Halifax expansion

By Alexander Quon Global News

Posted June 29, 2020 1:17 pm

Updated June 29, 2020 2:01 pm

Early-morning risers in Halifax were treated to the sight of a vessel laden with multiple cranes making its way through Halifax Harbour on Monday.

The container ship, Zhen Hua 29, is delivering multiple cranes but only one is meant for Halifax.

The newest Super Post-Panamax (SPPX) crane was ordered as part of the expansion of PSA Halifax in February 2019, when the location was known as Halterm.

The delivery of the crane marks one of the final stages in the expansion, Lane Ferguson, a spokesperson for the Port of Halifax told Global News on Monday.

The existing pier at PSA Halifax has already been extended to 135 metres long and 65 metres wide.

The new crane will be the fifth SPPX crane at PSA Halifax and will allow the terminal to service two mega container vessels simultaneously.

PSA Halifax is the only container terminal in Eastern Canada that can service mega container vessels, the largest ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Asia.

The newest crane is larger than the four pre-existing SPPX cranes at PSA Halifax, which can span across 22 containers.

A specialized piece of equipment, the new crane will be able to span across 24 containers, making it the largest ship-to-shore crane in Eastern Canada.

The Zhen Hua 29 vessel began its journey on April 24, departing from Shanghai, China.

Halterm Container Terminal to rebrand as PSA Halifax

Alexander Quon

The Halterm Container Terminal will now be known as PSA Halifax.
The decision to rebrand comes after PSA International Pte Ltd., a Singapore-based port operator, announced earlier this year that it would be purchasing Halterm from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners.
“We are proud of our history dating back to 1969. While developing new capabilities, greater capacity and further strengthening our bench, it is with pride that our team now becomes PSA Halifax,” said Kim Holtermand, CEO and managing director of PSA Halifax.
“Our new name, PSA Halifax, reflects our port city focus and vision as well as our aspiration to be recognized among existing and new customers as Eastern Canada’s gateway for global trade in 2020 and for decades to come.”
PSA beat out several bids for Halterm, including a joint bid by Canadian National Railway Co. and a partner.
The terminal is PSA International’s first coastal terminal in Canada and the only container terminal that can service mega container vessels.

PSA sees new opportunities for Halterm

by CanadianSailings | Oct 22, 2019 | Business and EconomyFeaturedGateways and CorridorsOtherPorts and TerminalsTom Peters

By Tom Peters

PSA International Pte. Ltd. (PSA), the new owner of Halterm Container Terminal in the port of Halifax, is looking at positioning the terminal as a logistics hub, says David Yang, PSA’s Regional CEO for Europe, Mediterranean and the Americas. PSA recently acquired Halterm from Macquarie Infrastructure Partners of Australia. The company has flagship operations in Singapore and Antwerp and has a portfolio that features a network of over 50 coastal, rail and inland terminals in 18 countries. In Canada, PSA also operates Ashcroft Terminal, British Columbia’s largest inland port facility, located about 300 kilometres east of the port of Vancouver.

Yang, in a keynote address to delegates attending the annual Halifax Port Days conference, discussed how rapidly things are changing within the supply chain and getting goods to market. As terminal operators “we need to anticipate these mega ships and design strategies around them,” he said. He also noted the rapid change in technology within the industry stating “technology drives production, consumption and subsequently trade.”

Yang pointed out there is “a consumer power revolution happening” with more people buying online and supporting growing e-commerce. “Trade logistics are being hugely affected by this” he said, adding that by 2030, e-commerce will increase to about 30 per cent of global retail sales.

Yang said maritime logistics are still quite fragmented so, to improve the supply chain, there needs to be a stronger collaborative effort with new partnerships doing things better, good data and good data governance. He said PSA believes that with a co-operative effort, its Ashcroft terminal can be transformed into a logistics hub. PSA purchased the terminal and over 300 acres and “we think one location can create a transporting hub and really change the supply chain in Canada. “We are hoping rail operators and all of you can help us. Hopefully this will be a game changer,” he said.

“Looking at Halifax, we see opportunities to participate in supply chain logistics. We have met with CN which gave us some very encouraging ideas,” Yang said, adding that PSA would like to work with partners to create an efficient inland hub which connects the Halifax terminal by rail, truck and data flow, and develop tailor-made solutions with them, and to make sure the terminal runs efficiently.

In further discussion on PSA’s plans for an intermodal hub, Kim Holtermand, Halterm’s CEO and Managing Director said in an email that, “Halterm’s customers depend upon Halifax’s fast efficient intermodal links in order to serve shippers globally with cargo sourced from or destined for major Canadian centres and across U.S. Midwest. Going forward we will look to build on current services with greater rail service frequency, ‘destination trains’ direct to and from Halifax and inland cities and a customer approach that delivers greater transparency in our service and confidence in our product.” Holtermand couldn’t offer a specific time line on these changes, only to say they are “Incremental changes. There is no ‘big bang’ approach.” He said that a few years ago Halterm worked with “customers and CN to open up the ramp for international importers and exporters at Moncton, N.B. More recently we have converted a number of customers from truck to coastal services up and down North America’s East Coast. As traffic grows for various inland and coastal centres, our focus is not in fact on the geography, but rather on each and every opportunity that we see to add value for customers. We will never simply add cost to our supply-chain. In recent years in particular we have built Halterm’s capabilities and customer-base by ensuring that doesn’t happen.”

On capital investment for Halterm, Holtermand said Halterm will add a fifth super post-Panamax crane and supporting landside equipment in the middle of 2020, offering all carriers access to unrivalled quayside capability in Eastern Canada. “Along with that capability comes a responsibility to ensure that customers have high quality data to navigate their vendor relationships and customer expectations,” said Holtermand. “As part of the PSA family we have access to new technologies that can bring performance improvements and our challenge as a management team is to bring the right solutions to our customers at the right time,” he said.


Government delays labour regulations that would have caused chaos for transport companies and shippers

by  | Sep 30, 2019 | Alex BinkleyFeaturedGovernment and RegulationOther

A furious mid-summer protest by transport companies and shippers has won them a one-year exemption from several Canada Labour Code hours of work changes that could have created chaos in the federally-regulated air, marine, rail, and interprovincial trucking industries. They were scheduled to come into effect on September 1. The Labour Code changes were intended to provide better work-life balance and strengthen workplace standards in federally-regulated industries. They were buried in the 2018 Budget Implementation Bill passed last December.

In a letter to Labour Minister Patty Hajdu in mid-August, Bob Ballantyne, President of Freight Management Association of Canada (FMA), said the hours of work provisions were impractical for transportation and would disrupt daily business operations. Employees in this sector are protected under collective agreements. The proposed changes could also have resulted in transportation companies and their operating employees unintentionally violating the existing federal Hours-of-Service regulations, he said. That issue was apparently not discussed with Transport Canada. “Now we want to make sure the exemption is made permanent,” he said in an interview in early September. Industry organizations are “having discussions about what we can do. We’ll see what the election brings.” Of equal interest is how the government “got industry into this fix,” he said. There should have more fulsome consultations with employers. Burying the announcement of the changes in the budget bill, and then launching consultations on them with little notice months before the federal election was not a good move.

The proposed regulations would have required the companies to provide workers with 96-hour notice of schedule changes, 24-hour notice for shift changes and paid absences for personal and medical leave, without requirement for verification.

In addition to FMA, a coalition of national transportation groups led by the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA), the Coalition of Rail Shippers, Federally Regulated Employers – Transportation and Communications (FETCO), the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and Western Grain Elevators Association (WGEA) all filed arguments with the minister opposing the amendments.

In a letter to its customers, CP Rail said the amendments “could threaten the efficiency and affordability of rail operations and cause significant disruption to the continuous rail supply chain. Unfortunately, these impacts will unavoidably affect your own supply chains. “If Canada is able to compete in this global marketplace, then Canada as a whole must be cost competitive and able to deliver on all levels on time, or another country will,” CP said. The railway urged its customers to contact key federal cabinet ministers with details of the economic damage the proposed changes would cause them. It said the 24-hour shift notice would hold up trains if the assigned engineer falls sick. The result would be disrupted “shipments of commodities or goods, which will cascade throughout the interconnected supply chain. Similarly, employees working in rail terminals building the trains to carry your goods cannot simply stop working to avoid overtime negotiated in their collective agreements.”

Wade Sobkowich, Executive Director of the WGEA, said his sector has worked for years to find long-term solutions to chronic capacity and supply chain performance deficiencies. The proposed hours of work changes would hamper the ability of grain companies and railways to properly staff their grain handling and transportation activities and disrupt their ability to handle and move grain.

“The export terminals and railways must be available to provide continuous service 24 hours per day, 7 days a week, in order to provide the necessary capacity to move the crop to our international customers when they require it,” he said. “If Canada is able to compete in this global marketplace, then Canada as a whole must be cost competitive and able to deliver on all levels on time, or another country will.

“Canadian grain farmers and exporters are already facing unprecedent trade issues with the likes of China, Italy, Peru, India, and Vietnam, among others. The timing couldn’t be worse for introducing additional roadblocks in the way of supplying our international customers. The changes to the Canada Labour Code threaten to erode our competitive position in international markets.”

CTA President Stephen Laskowski said there is a concern that Labour Canada will still require transportation and other companies to provide justification for exemptions from the work rule changes on a case by case basis. “CTA supports modern labour standards. However, the Alliance has always held the positions that new standards that come into place must make sense for the industry and the customers we serve.”

FETCO President Derrick Hynes said his members, which are mainly 24/7, just- in-time operations, have negotiated with their more than 500,000 employees “alternate work rules to ensure continuous operations that avoid disruption for customers. There are business imperatives. And these negotiated work rules come at a price for employers—they are entered carefully.”


Proposed Cape Breton container terminal logistics park has first ‘green’ tenant

Chris Shannon (
Published: Oct 07 at 6:20 a.m.
Updated: Oct 07 at 6:39 a.m.

The dream posed by Sydney Harbour Investment Partners, responsible for marketing a 500-acre greenfield site near the Sydport Business Park as a future container terminal, just got an injection of environmentally friendly energy.
Sydney Harbour Investment Partners released its plans Thursday for a “green design strategy” for the proposed Novazone logistics park that would complement the Novaporte container terminal for storage and transshipment purposes.
The “park-in-a-park” concept would look to grow a commercial industry around green technology and environmentally friendly practices.
Sydney Harbour Investment Partners CEO Albert Barbusci said in an interview Friday that he has secured his first tenant for his new green tech park within Novazone called NovaRe.
According to Barbusci, Michigan-based plastic waste recycler Quad City Innovations LLC has already signed on to the project.
“We’ve always been thinking about how do we make our port green? How do we find a method to get to a carbon-neutral footprint and, as I said, we stumbled into it because there are technologies out there that are leading edge and we’ve visited with a number of (these companies),” he said.
Barbusci said Quad City Innovations “checked all of those boxes” that could operate successfully in Sydney.
“QCI have been developing technologies . . . from around the world to ultimately create what they have which is a beautiful closed-loop system that would allow us to install their system at Novazone and create a park within a park.”
The company has developed three proprietary technologies to re-mine, reform and recycle nearly 100 per cent of municipal solid waste, waste plastic, scrap tires and rubber waste streams in Michigan.
Quad City Innovations indicated in a news release it processes large quantities of plastic and other solid waste into sulfur-free, carbon-free, renewable fuels suitable for use in current gasoline and diesel vehicles, locomotives, ships and other conventional diesel and gasoline industrial applications.
Quad City Innovations CEO Dean Rose said the Novazone park is the ideal location for a waste plastics-to-fuel plant.
“It gives us the opportunity to process waste streams from many regions delivered by ship, rail or road transportation. Additionally, it allows us to export our renewable fuels and chemicals via the same network,” he said in a release.
Quad City Innovations received approval last month from the Michigan Strategic Fund board to raise $60 million through private activity bond financing to build a plastics recycling plant in Michigan with the promise of creating 150 full-time jobs.
“It’s not a question of whether it will happen, it’s just a question of when.” — Albert Barbusci
The project is expected to begin in December and will be completed over the next two years.
Barbusci said Quad City Innovations could also be operating at the NovaRe park within 24 months, with no need for a container terminal port “to be up and running.”
“It’s not a question of whether it will happen, it’s just a question of when,” he said.
“Now, we don’t have to sit and wait for the port. (NovaRe park) could be the catalyst that drives the other. We don’t know. We just know it’s the future and we want to be in the game.”
The last time Barbusci spoke publicly was in May when he announced New York City-based private equity firm Avaio Capital, a division of Aecom, would invest in the container terminal project because the firm believed the port had the greatest potential as a large greenfield site with enough acreage to support a logistics terminal. Aecom will now be in charge of Novazone’s green design.
The Avaio Capital deal came at a time when SHIP’s partnership with China Communications Construction Company Ltd. stalled due to tense diplomatic relations between the governments of Canada and China. The Chinese conglomerate had signed on to design and build the proposed container terminal a few years ago.
At this point, there has been no news of shipping customers signing on with the intent of using the proposed Novaporte container terminal.
Barbusci would not discuss whether he’s made any headway in attracting shipping lines to Sydney harbour.

Cruise industry continues to grow in importance for Halifax local economy

by CanadianSailings | Sep 11, 2019 | Business and EconomyFeaturedGateways and CorridorsPorts and TerminalsTom Peters

By Tom Peters

The Halifax cruise industry continues to sail along nicely with another record year for cruise passengers on the horizon.

A recent study released by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 2019 Cruise Trends and State of the Cruise Industry, found 30-million people worldwide will take part in a cruise this year. Over 320,000 of those cruisers are expected to visit Halifax.

While the global economic impact of cruising in 2017 was $134 billion according to CLIA, the latest financial statistics for the Port of Halifax found cruising has an economic impact of $171 million for Halifax and the surrounding region, an increase of 40% compared to the last study conducted two years ago. Direct spending by passengers, crew and the shipping lines was $74.3 million in 2018, but when spin-off aspects are calculated, including employment generated (both full-and part-time), taxes paid and other factors, the direct spending increases almost two and a half times.

“The economic impact basically mirrors the growth we are seeing in the number of cruise guests, so we try to update the economic impact study every couple of years,” said Catherine McGrail, Associate Vice-President, Strategy and Cruise, for the Halifax Port Authority (HPA). She said the HPA is constantly looking at trends and passenger numbers, adding, “we are pleased with where things are at currently, and we recognize that not only Halifax but the (Atlantic) region, from a cruise perspective, is growing overall, so we anticipate that the economic impact will grow with that.”

The CLIA report found the greatest percentage of cruise passengers globally, 11.9%, are American and that statistic bodes well for Halifax because of its designation as a premiere destination on the Canada-New England itinerary. Several cruise lines departing out of New York bring hundreds of thousands of Americans to Halifax to enjoy the scenery, the tours, the history and the laid-back atmosphere.

The many cruises out of the U.S. and other parts of the world combine to make a relatively long and busy season for the port.

“The season kicked off on April 8 and to date it is continuing to run really well. Everything is going per schedule,” said McGrail. “We have a great line up of ships scheduled to call on Halifax, and we are anticipating 320,000 guests. At this point in the season, we are on track to meet that target.”

There is a wide variety of shore attractions and programs that draw cruise lines and passengers to Halifax, but it’s the effort of dedicated people and organizations that keep the port in the limelight.

“I think, from our perspective, it’s important that we work closely with all of our partners in the tourism industry to ensure we continue to provide the experiences that our guests are looking for,” McGrail said. “When we talk to the cruise lines about the overall guest experience in Halifax, we continue to receive extremely high ratings in terms of guest satisfaction. We continue to see positive results,” she added.

The last cruise vessel of 2019 is scheduled to visit Halifax November 6. Over the course of the eight-month season, some of the highlights will include eight inaugural calls that started with the arrival of Zaandam, a Holland America Line vessel, in late April; on July 26, the Queen Elizabeth and Queen Mary 2 were in port; the Queen Mary 2 will visit Halifax four times over the course of the summer and there will be a visit by Disney Magic on Sept. 23. The busiest day in port this year is expected to be October 2 with five vessels arriving carrying over 10,000 passengers in total.

While 2019 has been busy, next year is expected to be another strong cruise season, says McGrail and as passenger numbers continue to increase and ships keep getting bigger, the Halifax Port Authority is looking to the future and making plans to accommodate this fast growing industry.

“I can certainly say cruise is a very important line of our business and right now, we are looking at how we can continue to ensure we have the infrastructure that supports the large vessels that are coming,” McGrail said, noting cruise infrastructure has been part the HPA’s infrastructure planning program that has been under way for the past few years.

“At this time we are still evaluating sites on both sides of the harbour and we are working with various partners to explore some of the options,” she said. “We haven’t actually made any final decisions but we recognize that if the cruise business is growing and that the vessels are getting larger, we really need to look at how to increase our infrastructure and support growth in the cruise business,” she said.

The HPA is also reviewing the program of “turnarounds” which it has been developing in partnership with Atlantic Canada Cruise Association (ACCA) and Tourism Nova Scotia.

“Turnarounds are when one set of passengers disembarks a cruise vessel and another group gets on. In Halifax, these vessels tend to go on to visit the smaller, niche ports in the region that larger cruise vessels cannot easily access,” McGrail said.

“We believe niche ports in the region bring tremendous value to the overall cruise offering in Atlantic Canada. Niche ports have the ability to provide unique experiences that some cruise passengers are looking for,” she added.


Port of Halifax’ Port Operations Centre has become the focal point around the creation of a digital port

by CanadianSailings | Sep 11, 2019 | Business and EconomyFeaturedGateways and CorridorsOtherPorts and TerminalsTom Peters

By Tom Peters

The Port of Halifax, through the Halifax Port Authority (HPA), is evolving in the digital world. It’s a process that has been ongoing for several years, says Lane Farguson, HPA’s Manager, Media Relations and Communications.

“We have been working on becoming a digital port for more than a few years,” he says. “When we started our initial infrastructure planning process quite a few years ago, we realized then that there was going to be a big shift, not just with the physical infrastructure but with our digital assets as well,” he said, and the HPA took steps at that time “to not only make an infrastructure plan but we also started looking at what steps to we needed to be taking to cover the same thing on the digital front. Over time we have done a lot of different things. We started small but they are all tied together,” he said.

In an interview, Farguson referenced some of the digital projects the HPA has undertaken such as updating the port’s website which cleared the way for the introduction of the Port Operations Centre.

The Port Operations Centre became the digital location for the truck traffic monitoring system on the HPA’s website. There was also early adoption of the IBM-Maersk TradeLens platform and its blockchain component. The HPA’s involvement in the TradeLens digital global shipping platform was a significant move in the digital process.

The goal of TradeLens is to develop a highly secure digital ledger system incorporating several aspects of the industry, that promotes the sharing of information across the global shipping industry which can reduce costs, improve productivity, increase the speed of the delivery of goods, and provide transparency. The Maersk-IBM blockchain will enable the needed safety and security for the digital platform, says a release.

The platform will reduce paperwork with a digital process for documents, offering the potential for significant economic efficiency and improved security. This technology can reduce the need for multiple records and documents that are produced at each point in the supply chain.

Derrick Whalen, the HPA’s Director of Information & Technology Services, says the HPA, “is in a very good place with TradeLens. It was a good decision to be involved with TradeLens and get in with the big players.”

Earlier this year the HPA carried out an exercise that involved engaging the TradeLens platform. Whalen said the exercise dealt with many questions: Can we access the TradeLens platform? Can we subscribe to it? Can we look at the data that is there? Can we pull that data down and use it as a database? Can we attach business intelligence tools?

“We came through the process quite pleased with the potential, and quite pleased we could access the data and work with it,” he said, adding the next step is to utilize those concepts within the global supply chain. He said the important part of this process is really about governance. “It is establishing some global rules around data standards and data quality.” He said it is important that the major players get together to discuss data standards because the rules of engagement are necessary to enable the TradeLens platform to be what it can be. “Technology is one component, but governance is also vital,” he said.

The latest digital application added to the HPA’s Port Operations Centre site is the Vessel Forecast Summary (VFS) which provides additional visibility on expected container vessel arrival times. Cargo owners and port service providers including terminal operators, pilots, tug operators, truckers and CN Rail now have access to an accurate estimate of container vessel arrivals at the port, the HPA said in a release.

The application is powered by eeSea, a Copenhagen-based leader in global vessel forecasting. All container vessels serving the port are covered by the application which shows a vessel’s pro forma arrival date, an eeSea-estimated arrival date and any difference between the two which is listed in hours and minutes. Anyone can track an inbound vessel up to 30 days prior to scheduled arrival at Halifax, the release said.

As the digital strategy grows at the port “one of best places to see it coming together is the Port Operations Centre,” said Farguson. “It has been evolving over time and will continue to evolve. We hope and believe it will become the communication’s hub for our customers and stakeholders to find out information about their cargo, about vessel calls and about the port in general, and make it very easy for them to grab that information and use it. It’s one thing to make information available but how useful is it? We just feel the more we can move into the digital space and provide information the more useful for everyone,” he said.


Port of Halifax extending South End Terminal to accommodate larger vessels

by CanadianSailings | Sep 11, 2019 | Business and EconomyFeaturedGateways and CorridorsPorts and TerminalsTom Peters

By Tom Peters

The size of the vessels carrying containerized cargo calling along the East Coast of North America continues to increase. Earlier this year, the Port of Halifax received its largest Ultra-Class vessel so far, the 364-metre CMA CGM Libra, with TEU (twenty foot equivalent units) capacity of 11,400. As the only Canadian East Coast port capable of handling the ultra-class vessels, the Halifax Port Authority is taking the necessary steps to ensure these giants continue to have the space they need when they come calling.

The Halifax Port Authority (HPA) is moving forward, on schedule, with the construction of an extension to its South End container terminal operated by Halterm. The $35-million project will extend 134 metres and boast a working width of 57 metres. The goal of the extension to the existing terminal is to bring the total berth length to a continuous 800 metres, which will allow the Port of Halifax to accommodate two ultra-class container vessels simultaneously.

Greg Baker, Associate Vice-President, Engineering and Infrastructure for the Halifax Port Authority, said recently that the dredging aspect of the project had been completed with approximately 70,000 cubic metres of dredged organic silt and sand from the site deposited on the bottom of a HPA water lot at Fairview Cove. He said the material was perfectly clean but too soft to build on.

The extension will be anchored by eight, reusable caissons (concrete cribs) which are built at Richmond Terminals and then towed by tug to the site. At the time of the interview, three caissons were on site, “sitting on a prepared rock mattress, which is level,” Baker said.

The larger caissons are 21 metres high, 17 metres wide and 33 metres long. Five caissons are of this larger size while the other three vary in size but are all 11 metres wide. Construction of these caissons is being done by McNally Construction Inc., the lead contractor for the project.

Building, moving and positioning these caissons at the project site is an interesting process.

The wooden forms for the caissons were built inside Shed 9B at Richmond Terminals this past spring.

Each caisson begins with the casting of a reinforced concrete base slab on a semi submersible barge. The prepared form work, which totally defines all external and internal walls of the caisson, is placed on this slab. These forms are approximately 1.5 metres high and have an integral working platform, lights and hydraulic jacks. Once casting begins this formwork is continuously filled with concrete and reinforcing steel, as the concrete sets all forms for the entire caisson are uniformly jacked upwards.

The caissons are built high enough on the barge so when they are taken off, they float with no possibility of overturning. While floating, construction continues upwards and water is used as ballast to prevent them becoming top heavy. When a crib reaches the required height of 21 metres with proper ballast, it will draw about 14 metres of water, and that’s when it is ready to be towed to the South End container terminal for placement.

“On site, they get ballasted further but are kept level,” said Baker. “What you want to do is let the tide put them on the bottom, because if you try to do that with ballasting and they touch one corner first, they are difficult to control and can spin out of position. You want the tide to go down level, the crib to go down level with it. You want the caisson to uniformly touch the mattress.”

Once they are placed in position and the surveyor agrees they are within tolerance, the built-in valves are opened to allow water to flow in to the caisson, ensuring it doesn’t float again. “When they are fully flooded, they won’t move, regardless of the weather,” Baker explained. “They then get ballasted to the top with rock.” When filled, they will weigh approximately 26,000 metric tonnes.

Once the final caisson is in place, the entire extension will then be infilled with rock, which may result in additional caisson movement. “We will survey them, and when we are confident movement has stopped, we will build a cope wall around them which will be the portion everyone sees and the ships dock against,” said Baker. “The whole structure will then look straight.”

After the cope wall is completed, work will continue for supporting infrastructure such as lighting, asphalt and installation of 100-foot gauge crane rail for a new super post-Panamax crane which has been ordered by terminal operator Halterm. The new crane will reach across 24-containers.

“Halterm is working with the Halifax Port Authority to ensure dynamic demand-led capacity development,” said Kim Holtermand, Halterm’s CEO and Managing Director. “For example, the new berth extension will allow Halterm to handle two, Ultra-Class vessels while recent container yard expansion and inland rail initiatives with CN provide highly efficient low impact through-port container movements. The cranes and support equipment are key to the terminal’s unique position as Eastern Canada’s ‘Ultra-vessel’ container gateway,” he said.

The extension and crane are expected to be operational in 2020.


Halifax port survey backs up south-end terminal expansion over Dartmouth option

Francis Campbell (

Halifax Herald
Published: 24 June

A recent Halifax Port Authority-sponsored survey found that a majority said they were concerned by the volume of container truck traffic downtown and supported train options to reduce it. – Eric Wynne
The Halifax Port Authority has propped up its plan to expand its south-end container terminal with the findings of an online survey.
“We wanted to let people know the information we had and part of that was letting them know that this is what it would take to make any of those options work,” said Lane Farguson, communications manager for the port authority.
Farguson referred to an option for a new Dartmouth terminal and three separate Halifax terminal options, the primary one being a permanent northern expansion of the Halterm terminal into Ocean Terminal, with new rail and terminal capacity where containers will be moved, stacked and loaded onto rail.
The authority’s plan will follow a $35-million temporary expansion project announced last year that is expected to be finished next spring. Farguson said the temporary expansion is going forward because the port requires an “800-metre berth face in place by this time next year” to maintain shipping schedules.
The larger berths allow the port to accommodate the bigger ultra-class container ships and the authority has indicated that without first a temporary and then a permanent expansion, shipping lines will bypass Halifax, resulting in lost business and lost jobs.
“We’re getting vessels approaching 400 metres in length that are calling now. We can certainly berth and service one of those but we need to be able to berth and service two (at the same time). The temporary extension will extend that existing Halterm berth space by 135 metres and that will give us an 800-metre continuous length of berth.”
But the temporary project does not extend the overall footprint of the Halterm yard.
The survey, conducted by Hill and Knowlton Strategies from March 21 to April 18, reportedly reached 2,100 Nova Scotians.
The survey found that a majority of respondents agreed that the port plays an important role in the region’s economy, understood the need for expansion, and trusted the authority’s decision-making.
More respondents favoured the Halterm option over the Dartmouth choice. The impact on local neighbourhoods ranked as a more important factor among respondents than did the overall cost and the length of time it would take to complete.
The Halterm north proposal would cost an estimated $416 million and could be complete three years after approval, according to the authority. It will require relocating existing Ocean Terminals users and tenants.

Brand new container ships enhance Halifax reefer trade

by CanadianSailings | Jun 10, 2019 | Keith Norbury, Ocean, Ocean Carriers, Other, Other Stories, Shipbuilding and Repair
By Keith Norbury

Tropical Shipping expects to debut a second brand-new container ship on its Halifax run by this July to transport fresh and frozen foods and other products to the Caribbean. “It may even be earlier, but we’re going public with saying early July,” said Gordon Cole, the company’s Assistant Vice-President for Canada, Hispaniola, and the Virgin Islands.

The maiden voyage of Tropic Lissette will come about six months after a sister ship, Tropic Hope, made its inaugural call at the Port of Halifax this January. The ships, capable of carrying the equivalent of 1,145 standard 20-foot shipping containers, are among six new vessels Tropical Shipping is adding to its fleet. “I would say it was fantastic,” Mr. Cole said of the arrival of the Tropic Hope. “It was the first Tropical-owned vessel that we’ve had into the Canadian service.” Mr. Cole added that it was also “pretty special” to have the vessel christened in Halifax. “Godmother” Lori Nadeau, a longtime Tropical employee, performed the christening honours.

500 brand-new cans

Tropic Hope didn’t bring in any cargo on its initial voyage to Halifax. However, it did arrive with 500 brand-new 40-foot containers, including reefers. “That’s one of things that I kind of joked about a little bit is that we’ll never see that many empty containers on her again,” Mr. Cole said.

The containers — each twice the size of a standard 20-foot equivalent unit, or TEU, took up almost all the capacity of the 1,145 TEU vessel, which also has 260 reefer points, according to the company website. The two new ships are products of a US$150 million contract that Tropical Shipping signed with China’s Guangzhou Wenchong Shipyard Co. Ltd. in 2016 to build six new Carib class vessels, according to a press release posted on the Facebook page of Port St. Maarten in the Caribbean.

Tropic Lissette is named for the wife of long-time former Tropical Shipping CEO Rick Murrell, who now works for Saltchuk, Tropical’s parent company, Mr. Cole said. Lissette will replace a chartered vessel of a similar capacity, Bomar Rebecca, on the Halifax run, which Tropical introduced in 2017. Tropical had originally planned to use another of the new ships, Tropic Island, on the Halifax schedule. The first was initially expected to begin service last September and the second in November. “We’ve built four of these ships (so far) and it’s been a juggling act of which ship is going where,” Mr. Cole said.

Tropical Shipping has one sailing a week of out of Halifax. So the two ships are each on two-week rotations that take them to Tropical’s main port in West Palm Beach, Florida, and then to Puerto Rico, St. Thomas on the U.S. Virgin Islands, and St. Maarten, Mr. Cole explained.

Serving 30 Caribbean ports

Tropical serves 30 destinations in the Caribbean. Much of the cargo is transloaded at West Palm Beach for such locales as the Bahamas, Grand Cayman Island, Turks and Caicos, Trinidad, and Guyana. About the only major Caribbean islands Tropical doesn’t serve are Cuba and Jamaica.

“It’s pretty well everything that can go inside a container,” Mr. Cole said of the cargos Tropical ships carry. “There’s a lot of frozen goods. There’s a lot of fresh product for the reefers. There’s building materials, and even some personal household goods as well too, and groceries.”

Most of the cargos go south from Halifax, with very little going north from the Caribbean. Exceptions are organic bananas from the Dominican Republic, as well as mangos and melons. “There’s different items but very limited as compared to the exports,” Mr. Cole said.

In total, Tropical employs about 1,000 people. They include its own crews on the new ships, unlike on the chartered vessels, which hire their own crews. About two dozen Tropical employees are based in Canada, mostly in Saint John, N.B., where the company still has its head office. A few sales people are based in Montreal and Toronto.

In 2017, Tropical moved its Canadian port operations to Halifax. The move has been “everything that we thought it would be,” Mr. Cole said, citing operational efficiencies and connectivity with other carriers, including Canadian National Railway.

Halterm strengthens capabilities

Tropical’s Halifax ships dock at the Halterm container terminal, which has more than 140 longshore workers, noted a news release from Halifax Port Authority in January about Tropic Hope’s inaugural visit. Halterm “strengthened its basic workforce, operational capabilities and its handling capacity to meet its commitments to Tropical Shipping around the carrier’s delivery of the larger capacity vessels,” the release quoted Kim Holtermand, Halterm’s Managing Director and CEO, who called the occasion “a landmark day in our service to Tropical Shipping.”

Port Authority spokesperson Lane Farguson said that “we get excited anytime any of our customers can upgrade their vessels or add new infrastructure because it generally means that their business is doing well and that there is the potential for growth.” Mr. Farguson said reefer cargo is significant for the entire Halifax region. The economic spinoff from each export container of seafood is worth almost $74,000, nearly triple that of an average export container, he said.

“This shows the value of the seafood industry in Nova Scotia, and the importance of having an international gateway so those producers can get their product to international markets,” Mr. Farguson said.

Halterm’s South End Container Terminal has 615 reefer outlets, while the Ceres terminal at Fairview Cove has 500 reefer outlets. In 2018, Halifax handled 54,281 TEUs of reefer cargo, just below the record 56,660 TEUs of reefer cargo in 2017.

Reefer cargo ranks highly

“There is a wide range of refrigerated cargo moving through our international gateway,” Mr. Farguson said. “We see fish and seafood coming from Northern Europe, frozen shrimp from Asia, wines and beverages from southern Europe and the Mediterranean, and specialty fruits and vegetable products moving from Europe and North Africa, with a good portion of it moving into inland markets like Montreal and Toronto via CN’s intermodal temperature-controlled cargo service.”

Blueberries and frozen french fries are other significant reefer commodities. Mr. Farguson could not offer specifics but said that in 2018 frozen vegetables were the fourth largest export commodity and seafood was the fifth largest, with Latin America and the Caribbean making up 13 per cent of containerized cargo activity. While Halifax doesn’t break out specific categories, Mr. Farguson said, “the Caribbean is a major destination for reefer cargo, as is Europe.”

Regarding the latter, Mr. Farguson said that trade agreements like Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement, a.k.a. CETA, that went into effect in 2017 “are good for Canadian importers and exporters because they open new markets and create opportunities for growth.”