The shipping season for the Port of Hamilton is officially underway. Canada Steamship Lines’ bulk carrier, Baie St. Paul, became the first vessel to arrive at Hamilton port, kicking off the 2021 marine shipping season. Coming all the way from Dartmouth N.S., this self-unloading ‘Laker’ docked along pier 26 with a load of gypsum for stevedore QSL to unload.
Captain Serge Chevrier was presented with a ceremonial top hat and gift by the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority’s Harbour Master, Vicki Gruber and HOPA Ports President & CEO, Ian Hamilton, at the base of the gangway.
“Transportation systems and supply chain became part of public consciousness and conversation last year. Canada’s networks and shipping partners rose to the challenge and kept goods moving,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports. “We are optimistic about the season ahead, and HOPA’s integrated multimodal network is ready to support a blue recovery across the Greater Golden Horseshoe. We’re here to help get Canadian products to market efficiently and sustainably.”
Marine shipping was deemed essential from the outset of the pandemic, to keep the economy going, as vessels that ply the Great Lakes and international waters deliver key commodities for sectors like construction, manufacturing, agri-food, and steelmaking. Nova Scotia generates 75 per cent of all gypsum produced in Canada, and the gypsum delivered today will be turned into drywall by a local manufacturer for the construction industry. “As a key link of the supply chain, QSL is proud to support the Canadian economy.” Bruce Graham, Vice President, Ontario and Atlantic for QSL.
The Baie St. Paul is a “Nova Scotia-class” vessel representing improved vessel design, The ship has a modern engine and hull design to increase fuel efficiency and decrease air emissions. Its double hulls prevent spills in the event of an accident and state-of-the-art cargo handling systems to minimize dust and cargo residue. “The new technologies built into the design of Baie St. Paul and her sister ships helped launch a transformation in Great Lakes shipping that is making it safer for our crews to navigate and healthier for the environments and communities in which we operate,” said Louis Martel, President and CEO, The CSL Group.
Harbour Master, Vicki Gruber, is also looking forward to a strong season. “We’ll be maintaining a lot of the same protocols that were developed last season. We just have to stay vigilant.” Some of these safety precautions, which include monitoring crew health and checking in with the Public Agency of Canada upon entering Canadian waters, apply to all (domestic and international) ships calling Canadian ports, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and variants.
After leaving Hamilton, the Baie St. Paul will be on route to Thunder Bay to pick up grain. In 2020, HOPA’s cargo levels dipped 30 per cent in the early months, but a good Ontario harvest and strong showings in grain and other commodities made up the balance by the fall. The port saw a final tonnage total of close to 10 million MT by season close, almost exactly on-par with 2019’s results.