The CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE joins the fleet: the first 23 000 TEU container vessel in the world to be powered by liquefied natural gas

Marseille, September 22, 2020

 A pioneering technology aimed at preserving air quality and accelerating maritime transport’s energy transition.

  • CMA CGM Group’s new flagship is the first of a series of nine 23 000 TEU container ships, a homogeneous LNG-powered fleet flying the French flag.
  • The CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE joins the French Asia Line, CMA CGM Group’s most emblematic line between Asia and Northern Europe.

The CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE has joined CMA CGM Group’s fleet thus becoming the largest LNG-powered container ship in the world. A global leader in shipping and logistics, CMA CGM has made the symbolic choice of naming its new flagship after its founder, Jacques Saadé, a visionary and entrepreneur.

A unique naming ceremony for a unique ship

The joining of the fleet of the CMA CGM Jacques Saadé was marked by a first-of-its-kind digital naming ceremony that saw the shipyard’s representatives in Shanghai and CMA CGM Group’s management in Marseille share an emotional landmark moment in their common history. Blessed by father Francis Fang, the vessel was then officially named by her Godmother, Tanya Saadé Zeenny, who wished the ship, the captain and its crew the best of luck on their future voyages with the traditional words “May God bless this ship and all who will sail on her”.

LNG, a pioneering choice aimed at preserving air quality and driving the energy transition

In November of 2017, Rodolphe Saadé, CMA CGM Group’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, decided to equip this series of container ships with LNG-powered engines – a first in the history of shipping for Ultra Large Container Vessels. The CMA CGM Group has thereby proven its commitment towards driving forward maritime transport’s energy transition.

Today, LNG is the most advanced solution when it comes to preserving air quality. It enables a 99% reduction in sulfur dioxide and fine particle emissions, and an 85% reduction in nitrogen dioxide emissions, going well above and beyond existing regulation. LNG emits up to 20% less CO2 compared to fuel motorization. This technology is one of the first step towards achieving CMA CGM Group’s ambitious 2050 objective of carbon neutrality.

Innovation-packed vessels, the result of 7 years of research and development from CMA CGM experts

These nine vessels are packed with innovations, the result of a long cooperation between CMA CGM’s research and development experts and industrial partners.

In addition to LNG motorization, the vessels offer advanced technologies:

  • The cockpit boasts the latest embedded digital technologies to assist the commander and crew, in particular for port maneuvers;
  • They feature a redesigned straight bow with an integrated bulb, a redesigned rudder, and a redesigned propeller all of which substantially improve the vessels hydrodynamics, thereby reducing energy consumption.

These 9 vessels bear a specific “LNG Powered” label that will be recognizable on all seas across the globe.

An extraordinary construction project that mobilized the know-how and expertise of CMA CGM Group’s experts and their industrial partners

From its design all the way to its operation, without forgetting its construction, The CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE benefited from the know-how and expertise of the best French, European, and global industry leaders. A number of specialized companies played their parts in this landmark construction project, including:

  • BIO-UV Group, a French specialist in ultraviolet-based water disinfection systems who provided the BIO-SEA system, a ballast water treatment technology,
  • CSSC, Shanghai’s shipyards who developed a globally recognized know-how and expertise in container ship construction,
  • Cryostar, a French expert in high technology cryogenic equipment who provided the LNG pumps,
  • Bureau Veritas, a French classification company in charge of guaranteeing the certification of the CMA CGM JAQUES SAADE and its sister ships,
  • BLM, a French company who provided winches and windlass,
  • GTT, a French technology and engineering company expert in membrane containment systems, selected for the design of LNG tanks and related technical services.
  • Schneider Electric, a French industrial group who designed the vessel’s electrical switchboards,
  • Sperry Marine, company based in the United Kingdom and responsible for radio navigation and platform equipment,
  • Total and Rotterdam port who provided LNG refueling services,
  • Wartsila, a Finnish gas provider who handled system and auxiliary systems,
  • WingGD, the CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE’s primary engine designer.

CMA CGM pioneers France’s LNG field of excellence in maritime transport

The CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE, along with its eight 23 000 TEU sister ships (twenty-foot equivalent unit) will be registered at the French International Register (FIR). They will bear the names of landmark Parisian monuments and other renowned venues and institutions from throughout the French capital (Champs Elysées, Palais Royal, Louvre, Rivoli, Montmartre, Concorde, Trocadéro, and Sorbonne). CMA CGM has chosen Total as part of a major industrial partnership to supply them with gas. Thereby making CMA CGM the initiator in structuring a genuine LNG field of excellence in maritime transport.

A first journey on the largest sea route in the world at the heart of exchanges between Asia and Europe

The CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE will start its maiden voyage as of September 23rd on the French Asia Line (FAL), CMA CGM Group’s most emblematic line between Asia and Northern Europe. Its rotation will lead it to the ports of Pusan in South Korea; Tianjin, Ningbo, Shanghai and Yantian, China; Singapore; Southampton, Dunkirk, Hamburg, Rotterdam, Algeciras in Europe; and Port Kelang in Malaysia. This line provides a weekly service comprising 13 calls over the course of 84 days.

On the occasion of the CMA CGM JACQUES SAADE’s coming into service, Rodolphe Saadé, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, declared: “The CMA CGM Jacques Saadé embodies our commitment to the planet. This vessel has been enhanced with the latest technologies and is the result of 7 years of research and development. While guaranteeing the safety of our crew, it preserves air quality and will be part of our fight against global warming. It significantly improves the environmental footprint of carried goods. We have taken a big step forward. We need to go further to build transport that is even more respectful of the environment.



Led by Rodolphe Saadé, the CMA CGM Group is a world leader in shipping and logistics.

Its 500 vessels serve more than 420 ports across five continents around the world and carried nearly 22 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) in 2019. With CEVA Logistics, a world leader in logistics services, CMA CGM handles more than 500,000 tons of airfreight and 1.9 million tons of inland freight every year.

CMA CGM is constantly innovating to offer customers new maritime, inland and logistics solutions.

Present on every continent and in 160 countries through its network of 755 offices and 750 warehouses, the Group employs more than 110,000 people worldwide, of which 2,400 in Marseille where its head office is located.



SHIPPING NEWS: Record-setting call for Halifax

Peter Ziobrowski


The CMA CGM Brazil called Thursday on PSA Halifax and, in doing so, set the record for the largest container ship to call in Canada and the largest to call on the east coast of North America.

The ship, which entered service in May, is capable of carrying 15,072 20-foot equivalent units and measures 366 metres in length, with a beam of 51 metres.

Tipped on end, the ship would be the third-tallest structure in Canada, after the CN Tower in Toronto and the Inco super stack in Sudbury, Ont.

COSCO Himalayas, at 14,200 teu, called at Prince Rupert, B.C., in 2017 and held the previous record for largest ship to call in Canada.

The largest ship to call on the west coast and current North American record holder is the 19,000 teu MSC Anna, which called at the ports of Oakland and Long Beach in California in April. That was not a regular call but part of a strategy to make up for blank sailings and address an oversupply of empty containers.

CMA CGM has slowly been increasing the size of ships on its Columbus JAX service, and several Port of Halifax records have been set. The 14,414 teu CMA CGM T. Jefferson previously held the Canadian record after a call in March, and beat the record held by CMA-CGM Libra set in January 2019 at 11,388 teu.

The Columbus JAX service sails from Asia to the east and west coasts of North America. Eighteen vessels provide weekly service, and one full trip takes 126 days. West coast stops are limited to Los Angeles and Oakland, however, the service at one point called on Vancouver.

The Port of Halifax’s other terminal is also seeing size records. YM Upsurgence is due to return to Ceres on Wednesday. At 8626 teu and 333 metres in length and with a 43-metre beam, it is one of the largest vessels to call at the Fairview Cove Container Terminal.

The Fairview terminal is restricted in the size of vessels it can candle due to air draft restrictions at the bridges. Ships this size will pass under the bridge with only a couple of metres of clearance, about the same height as a doorway in your house.

The comparison between YM Upsurgence and CMA CGM Brazil demonstrates how significant capacity can be added to a ship by making it wider and allowing containers to be stacked higher, demonstrating the need for newer, larger cranes.

The post-Panamax cranes installed at PSA Halifax in 2000 were two small to handle the Brazil and went unused.


Newest Sydney cruise berth Liberty Pier officially opens

The Chronicle Herald

Published: Sep 10 at 5:30 p.m.

Updated: Sep 10 at 8:40 p.m.



Sydney’s newest infrastructure project, a $20 million docking pier on its waterfront, was officially opened Thursday with supporters claiming it was a great investment that will generate millions in economic opportunities.

Liberty Pier was unveiled before a gathering of municipal, provincial and federal politicians along with community business leaders.

“This will definitely drive economic opportunity and this is really just the beginning. Don’t lose sight and don’t lose hope,” boasted Premier Stephen McNeil, who was in attendance for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

McNeil said the project will help drive the economy of the entire island and that the provincial government and others are working hard to secure business opportunities.

Among such opportunities, he said, could involve attracting some regional cruise ships from Quebec and elsewhere to begin making Sydney a port of call.

When asked by reporters to respond to criticism that the cruise industry is not a safe investment, McNeil said he disagrees.

“Yes, that industry was hard hit but it is a shortsighted view to think the industry is dead.”

This year was supposed to be the inaugural season for the Port of Sydney’s second cruise ship berth which was to record a total of 117 cruise ship visits to the harbour, including 27 at the new dock.

The season was expected to see 212,597 passengers arrive on the island along with 89,351 crew members. There were 18 days scheduled for two-ship visits and another nine days when three ships per day were expected in port. The 2020 cruise season was to begin April 28 and wrap up on Oct. 30.

But that all came to a screeching halt in March when McNeil’s government imposed a province-wide state of emergency in a bid to stem the spread of COVID-19 which by then had developed into a global pandemic. Other provinces and territories did the same. Nova Scotia remains under a state of emergency and some of the restrictions initially set in place have been relaxed or lifted.

However, Canada continues to ban vessels with more than 500 on board from entering any port.

“This industry is an opportunity and will rebound. We will see tourism rebound,” said McNeil.

Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor Cecil Clarke agrees.

“We are ready to welcome the world,” cooed Clarke.

From his vantage point on the new pier, Clarke noted it was nice to see cranes protruding the waterfront skyline as work continues on constructing a new community college. He pointed to the dredging now underway near the coal pier as yet another welcomed harbourfront development and told his audience that over $3 million will be spent next year to transform Sydney’s main downtown street – Charlotte Street.

Also in attendance was Marlene Usher, CEO of the Sydney Ports Development Corporation. Usher said critics of the project need to get past thinking only in terms of cruise ship business.

“We are working on a number of opportunities from bulk carrier business to a ferry service to harbour tours,” said Usher, in listing a few projects that could be developed.

“Sydney is a harbour city with one main berth. It’s hard to grow with only one berth. We’ve now doubled that capacity,” said Usher.

She said the second pier development is a 50-75-year project that will help Sydney become a full-service port.

She said other projects being examined include providing fuel service for Marine Atlantic whose ferry service to Newfoundland and Labrador currently now only fuels in Newfoundland.

Usher said there are many other possibilities for business development at the pier other than cruise ships.

Although the pier is not located in his district, regional councillor Darren Bruckschwaiger said the project is a benefit to all.

“This was not a waste of money. Tourism is a mainstay of the island economy so any new business coming in benefits all.”

Until the COVID-19 outbreak, the cruise industry was the fastest-growing part of the travel sector with an estimated 32 million expected to take a cruise this year alone. While estimates vary, the industry is valued at $150-billion.

On-shore visits have aided local artisans who are able to sell their wares in various locations in downtown Sydney on cruise ships days. Such visits also help local merchants, museums and other points of cultural interest across the island.

A quick scan of websites suggests cruise lines are now offering discounts and other benefits for next year’s season.

Halifax welcomes largest containerized cargo vessel to call at a Canadian port

The Halifax Port Authority says CMA CGM Brazil berthed at around midnight

 By: Meghan Groff

CMA CGM Brazil at PSA Halifax – Photo provided – credit Steve Farmer

The largest containerized cargo vessel to call at a Canadian port has arrived in Halifax Harbour.

The Halifax Port Authority says CMA CGM Brazil berthed at around midnight.

She’s 366 metres long with a 15,072 TEU capacity.

PSA Halifax is the only port in Eastern Canada that can accommodate these larger ultra-class vessels.

In July, it received a new ship-to-shore super post-Panamax crane, bringing the total number to five.

The port authority has also been working on extending the south end terminal so it has the capacity to accommodate two ultra-class ships at a time.

SHIPPING NEWS: Port of Halifax gains from situation in Montreal

Peter Ziobrowski

As the longshoremen strike in Montreal enters its second week, diversions to Halifax continue. Thousands of containers that normally sailed past the port are now headed here.

It now seems the port may have captured some of the business.

I have been told that CN Rail and PSA Halifax have signed a six-month agreement to handle 2,500 20-foot equivalent units a week from MSC. While no official announcement has been made, MSC ships continue to call on Halifax. CN Rail has added a second train in and out of Halifax most days.

Saint John has also picked up several diversions, and Canadian Pacific has been running container trains on its newly reacquired route into Saint John.

MSC was already a caller in Saint John, but now Hapag-Lloyd has mostly diverted its MCA service to Saint John, which has been undergoing a modest expansion at the container terminal for several years.

In 2018, DP World took over as operator, and two new post-Panamax container cranes went into service. Work is underway to expand the pier, as well.

Saint John’s loss of Tropical Shipping to Halifax in 2018 represented a significant decline in container traffic for the port; capturing the MCA Service would be a big win.

If the Montreal labour action continues, there is a chance that shipping lines and customers will become accustomed to the new service, leaving a risk they will not return. The Port of Montreal was already in danger of losing business due to environmental delays and limits on the size of ships that can reach the port. Extended labour action forces a new normal.

This is a risky strategy for the unions. While they want higher pay and better scheduling for their members, they risk driving away ships. Fewer ships mean less hours of work, translating to lower pay, even if it’s at a higher rate.

A smarter strategy would have been to continue with periodic short strikes, which would have caused delays but likely wouldn’t have forced the massive diversions we are seeing.

With all the extra traffic, dwell times at PSA have reached six days. This is a rail capacity issue and, if it can be resolved quickly, Halifax would be well placed to keep some of this extra traffic.

ROGER TAYLOR: Port of Halifax mines data for new business

Roger Taylor (

Published: 14 hours ago

Updated: 11 hours ago

The days of ships sailing into Halifax Harbour and simply dropping off and picking up cargo, without any thought by the port managers about where the goods would eventually end up, were over long ago.

As time has progressed, so has the sophistication of the methods used to examine the market potential of the port.

The Port of Halifax has been using a software system called Datamyne since 2008 as a source of global trade intelligence, but lately Halifax’s port authority has renewed its commitment to using it.

It was described on Monday as a “market research tool,” which uses data to provide information in a variety of categories, according to the Halifax Port Authority.

“It allows users to receive this, oftentimes, very complex information on international trade in a way that is easy to use and easy to visualize,” a port representative said in an email Monday.

Based in Miami, Datamyne has been used by the Halifax port operation since 2008 to examine shipping around the world by sourcing bills of lading, which provide the details of various transactions, including cargo descriptions, ports of departure and arrival, shipping lines, importing companies and foreign suppliers.

When privately held Datamyne was acquired by Waterloo, Ont.-based Descartes Systems Group in December 2016, the goal never changed.

Descartes announced on Monday that the Port of Halifax is “enhancing its business development efforts for containerized shipping operations” by using the Datamyne product to access detailed import-export data in its prospective trade lanes.

“Our goal is to make Halifax the east coast choice for cargo arriving from central Canada and the midwestern U.S. by demonstrating to importers, cargo owners, freight forwarders, terminals and rail providers how the port can fit into their supply chain,” Rob McInnes, manager of business development at the Halifax Port Authority, said in the Descartes news release Monday.

The data examined by the Datamyne software reportedly allows the port to research and make informed decisions about potential trading and logistics partners.

“We are a longtime subscriber to Descartes Datamyne and continue to find it invaluable, especially the in-depth information it provides on cargo transportation at competitive ports in the northeast,” McInnes said.

Descartes vice-president Mark Segner said the Port of Halifax can use the software to more effectively target new business opportunities.

“By providing detailed information on the flow of trade, ports, carriers and logistics, service providers can be more precise in their business development activities, increase revenue, understand the competitive landscape and keep sales and marketing costs in check,” Segner said in the release.

The software system can scale up or down the amount of data collected from postal codes and customs records, including shipment contents, volumes and values. The data can be used to reveal trends and new market potential.

Descartes describes itself as the global leader in providing on-demand, software-as-a-service solutions focused on improving the productivity, performance and security of logistics-intensive businesses.

Data mining isn’t exactly the most visual part of the Port of Halifax, but it may be one of the most important aspects of port business. The proof of the value the software reportedly provides will be increased activity at Halifax’s two container terminals.


Montreal port strike adds to container activity in Halifax


Roger Taylor (

Published: Aug 14 at 4:30 p.m.

Updated: 1 hour ago

There is no joy at the Port of Halifax about labour strife at its largest Canadian competitor.

There is no denying there has been an increase in activity in Halifax due to an ongoing labour dispute at the Port of Montreal, which has been briefly beneficial to the local terminal operators and longshoremen, but in the longer term it could have a negative effect on all Canadian ports.

An industry observer told me on Friday that companies in Asia shipping goods through ports on the East Coast of North America could very well take a look at what’s happening in Montreal, assume all of Canada has a problem and decide to bypass this country altogether.

That isn’t good news for the long-term effort to attract more business to Halifax, the observer said. The hope is that the companies bringing additional business to the Nova Scotia port will be pleased by the performance at Halifax and will consider bringing more trade to the port even after the Montreal situation has been settled.

Longshore men and women in Montreal, members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Local 375, began an indefinite strike Monday after talks with the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) in Montreal broke down.

The union has been without a contract since December 2018. It has been reported that both sides have had more than 60 negotiating sessions since that time but the sides have not been close to a settlement.

The walk out on Monday by the CUPE members is the fourth staged in Montreal since July 1. The employers complain that Montreal is adversely affecting about 6,000 business, including some in Atlantic Canada.

It has been reported that CUPE’s main complaint is the lack of a work-life balance. The union local has said its 1,225 members — heavy machinery operators, signalers, ship handlers, electricians and mechanics — work 19 consecutive days before receiving a day off, according to the Journal of Commerce.

Lane Farguson, who speaks on behalf of the Halifax Port Authority, said he didn’t want to get into the details or comment on what may be happening at another port, but added that supply chains are interconnected.

“What happens with one link will have an impact across the entire chain. We are seeing cargo diversions through Halifax, which means an increase in cargo, and we are working closely with the terminal operators, CN Rail and the hardworking men and women of the ILA (International Longshoreman’s Association) workforce to manage that increase,” Farguson said.

Empty containers have been strategically stored at different locations away from the terminals, he said, to free up space at the terminals – PSA Halifax (formerly known as Halterm) in the city’s south end and the Fairview Cove terminal operated by Ceres in the north end.

Things are busy at the terminals, said Farguson. Rail service out of Halifax has increased and so have the hours of operation at the terminals.

“It’s important to keep in mind that this (added activity) is not Halifax cargo we are seeing. This would normally be moving through a different port and other East Coast ports are working to manage this situation to keep the supply chain fluid.”

Another industry insider, who asked not to be identified, said he believes the stockpile of goods brought to North America at the start of the COVID-19 crisis has been largely used up. North American companies are restocking now, and that has helped to increase shipments from Asia.

While Montreal has not completely shut down, the bulk of the cargo normally handled in that port is being diverted to Saint John, N.B. and Halifax. U.S. ports like New York are also believed to be handling some of the Montreal cargo.

“Our focus right now is to do all that we can to ensure our regular services receive precedence and that cargo normally moving through Halifax continues to do so with the efficiency and reliability we are known for,” Farguson said. “Following that, we are working to accommodate requests as capacity allows.”

The federal government has stated it would not intervene in the Montreal port dispute, but industry people I spoke to on Friday suspect there will be a limit to Ottawa’s non-involvement, considering Montreal’s importance as an economic centre and a political one.


Port of Sydney to lose 65 per cent in revenue due to COVID-19 pandemic

Jeremy Fraser (

The Chronicle Herald



The COVID-19 pandemic has caused its fair share of revenue loss in the world market and the Port of Sydney is no different in feeling those effects.

Marlene Usher, chief executive officer for the port, said revenues will be down 65 per cent this year because of the pandemic and the cancellation of cruise ship season for basically the entire year.

“It’s been a struggle,” she said. “We’ve had a number of layoffs, we’ve cut all of discretionary spending and we’re just trying to keep the doors open.”

With revenue loss, the Port of Sydney was forced to lay off 10 people in various positions. Lost revenue is expected to be around $1.5 million.

“We have to remain open because we’re an essential service and we need to have fuel being received at our dock, so we definitely need to keep the doors open,” said Usher.

“We’re looking at other ways to market the port in terms of cargo and other things because we could have the impact of COVID-19 for a couple of years, but hopefully not.”

The Sydney port was scheduled to have 118 cruise ships visit this year. However, all visits were cancelled in May following the federal government’s cruise ship ban as part of measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“We’re going from the best year to the worst year,” said Usher. “Right now, we’re closed until the end of October to any cruise lines and that’s by order from Transport Canada.”

The port remains in operation, providing service for fuel tanker ships as well as the Canadian Coast Guard. The Port of Sydney also operates the marina.

Meanwhile, the newly named Liberty Pier second berth, a project worth just over $19 million, is expected to open for business next month, according to Usher.

“We are looking for business to come to the second berth,” said Usher. “It’s pretty much completed.

“There’s a couple more fenders that have to go on and they’re also doing some work with respect to the grounds and the shape of the landscaping and some electrical lighting, but the concrete is all poured … it’s pretty much ready to go.”

In the province’s capital, the Port of Halifax is also seeing a decline in revenue because of the cancellation of cruise ship season, however, wouldn’t say the estimated loss.

“There is no question that the loss of one of our lines of business will have an impact,” said Lane Farguson, manager of media relations and communications for the Halifax Port Authority, in an email.

“The Halifax Port Authority had been forecasting the busiest season ever in terms of both vessel calls and overall cruise guests – it’s disappointing, but we recognize the importance of maintaining the health and well-being of all involved.”

Farguson told the Cape Breton Post the Halifax cruise industry contributes an estimated $165-million annually in the Halifax and surrounding area, according to the most recent economic impact study. It includes passenger spending, port fees and the provisioning that takes place when vessels are in port.

The Halifax port receives revenue from three business lines including cargo, cruise and real estate.

“Fortunately, we entered 2020 in a strong financial position,” said Farguson.

The Post contacted the ports in Charlottetown and St. John’s, N.L., regarding the economic impact the virus has had in those cities with no cruise ship passengers, however, nobody was immediately available for comment.

Back in Sydney, Usher acknowledged the difficult year, but is hopeful the port will receive some type of help moving forward.

“We’re hoping that we will get some government support somewhere, but today we haven’t got a whole lot,” said Usher.

As of now, the Sydney port hasn’t had any cancellations for the 2021 cruise ship season. Although the schedule hasn’t been released, Usher anticipates more than 100 calls, but that could change.

“We are concerned about the 2021 schedule,” said Usher. “We just don’t know what will happen with vaccines and U.S. and Canadian ports.”




The Chronicle Herald – 22 July 2020

  • A new size record was set Monday for container ships calling on Halifax with the arrival of the CMA CGM Christophe Colomb. While it does not hold the record for most containers carried by a vessel, coming in at 13,830 20-foot equivalent units, it does have a gross tonnage of 153,022 gt, making it the largest physically. Gross tonnage is a measure of the internal volume of a ship, and its calculation is governed by international convention. It is used to figure charges for services such as berthing, pilotage and canal tolls. The record holder for largest ship by container count to call on Halifax is the 14,414 TEU CMA CGM T. Jefferson. Its gross tonnage is 140,872 gt.
  • Maersk Cutter and Maersk Detector returned to Halifax on Tuesday morning with the Deep Panuke production platform aboard the Boa Barge 34. The barge and platform will eventually be anchored in Mulgrave for storage, pending reuse. The anchors for that were installed in Mulgrave this past week by the Horizon Arctic.
  • Carnival Cruise lines previously announced it would be shedding at least 13 ships as a result of the pandemic. Two of the ships sold for scrap include Halifax regulars Maasdam and Veendam, which sail under the Holland America Line brand. One of the ships called almost weekly during cruise season for the last few years.


Maritime World Logistics thrives on breakbulk and project cargo

By Tom Peters

Maritime World Logistics, Inc. (MWL) is “just one link in the supply chain,” says Managing Director Serge DiPenta, and for more than 20 years, the Halifax-based company has grown to be a vital link in that chain, specifically in the breakbulk and project cargo business. With an office on the Bedford Highway overlooking the Fairview Cove cargo terminal in the Port of Halifax, MWL was born out of a necessity, to fill a void at the port to handle these types of cargoes. MWL President Mike DiPenta, who had been Manager Ports Halifax for CN Rail, dealt with project cargo as part of his responsibilities, said his son, Serge. “That was sort of his passion,” he added. Following his retirement from CN in 1999, however, Mike’s absence created a gap in the railway’s breakbulk and project cargo service.

“One of his client’s asked him at the time, if you are not getting back into breakbulk, and CN is not really that interested, who is going to carry the ball,” said Serge, who joined the company in 2010 and has been managing if for the past three years. “So Mike started Maritime World,” he said.

The business got its start in Mike’s home. It has slowly grown and has evolved into a six-person office operation plus four to six contractors, some lifelong railroaders, “who are complimentary to what we do,” said Serge. Their job is to shadow or ‘babysit’ cargo from rail origin to its final destination, especially high profile, sensitive cargo. “They will follow the train, by vehicle, and stop at various railway stations to inspect cargo, present clearance files and do whatever is necessary to ensure the cargo arrives at its destination safely and efficiently. It’s all part of the company’s service package”, said Serge. These “cargo shadowers” were part of a company called, Transcontinental Transportation Services, which was acquired by MWL a number of years ago.

“MWL can work out of any port in North America,” said Serge but Halifax lends itself exceptionally well to handling dimensional cargo with ACL (Atlantic Container Line) and WWL (Wallenius Wilhelmsen Line) offering world class ro-ro capability and several on dock marginal tracks (running along the edge of the pier) to allow vessels with their own cranes to discharge cargo directly onto rail cars. In addition, CN’s clearances from the tracks in Halifax are wider than at any other port on the East Coast of North America. Most of the breakbulk and project cargoes are transferred to rail, due to weight and size considerations, but trucks are employed when they turn out to be more suitable. “We have very good trucking partners” and if some cargo needs to be moved by truck “then that is what we will do,” he added.

With rail being the principal mode of transportation for MWL’s business, Serge has high praise for CN Rail which is the only rail line serving the port of Halifax. Of all the railways they deal with “CN’s model for handling dimensional is one of the best in North America, in our experience. We have a good relationship with them,” he said. Serge added that project cargo only makes up a small portion of CN’s overall freight car business “so we do our best to be in touch with people in the local (CN) operation as well as CN marketing and customer service, and that makes a big difference.”

A considerable amount of the project cargo that moves over Halifax is associated with the energy sector and is headed for the “oil patch” mainly in Western Canada. As the energy sector moves to “greener” types of energy, there will still be a need for large power generation equipment, but different types.

Like any business, moving large, oversized cargo has its challenges which are not just limited to cargo dimensions. One issue, for example, says Serge, is getting all the detailed information on the cargo before it arrives, in order to properly handle and process it when it arrives.

“Getting complete information is always paramount. Once we have everything, we have to make sure there are no last-minute surprises. Mike likes to use the phrase, “the big issues are easy to spot,” suggesting it’s not the big issues that cause the problem, the “devil is truly in the details,” Serge says.

In addition to the commitment to its clients, MWL also has a commitment to the local community and a number of local organizations. MWL is an annual gold sponsor for the Halifax Employers Association golf tournament, Drive For Hope, which raises money for Hope Cottage, a charitable organization which feeds those in the community most in need. MWL has also been a major contributor to the Mission to Seafarers for the past six years; has been a banner sponsor for a local high school hockey team (Lockview High School); a regular sponsor of Halifax Port Days; and a major supporter of the Hodgkin lymphoma society and Dartmouth General Hospital.