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Hamilton port partners launch container ship service to Montreal


 HAMILTON, Ontario – Nearly 300 containers were being loaded June 11 onto the M/V Sedna Desgagnés at the Port of Hamilton, as part of a new short sea shipping service launched by Hamilton Container Terminal (HCT) in very close collaboration with Desgagnés. Bound for the Port of Montreal, this new container service was developed by HCT, in partnership with the Hamilton-Oshawa Port Authority (HOPA Ports), Desgagnés, Federal Marine Terminals, MSC and the Port of Montreal. 

“A Great Lakes container service has been a goal for our organization since we set up shop in Hamilton six years ago,” said HCT President Amandeep Kaloti. “We are thrilled to see this initiative come to life with the help of our partners at HOPA, Desgagnés and FMT.”

‘Short Sea Shipping’ refers to city-to-city container shipments using the Great Lakes as a marine-highway alternative to road-based transportation. This marine alternative has a number of advantages, chiefly a 500 per cent lower carbon footprint, along with the ability to by-pass congested southern Ontario highways. Every day, more than 10,000 trucks move goods between the GTHA and Montreal. This service proves the potential to accommodate some of that traffic on a greener, less congested water route. Upon arrival at the Port of Montreal, most of the containers will be transloaded onto oceangoing vessels, destined for overseas markets in Europe, India and the Middle East. 

The service feeds Canadian export markets for products such as steel, agricultural products and lumber. HCT also sees significant opportunity in ‘flexibags’, a fillable insert that allows the transport of liquid commodities by container, potentially enabling exports of Canadian goods like edible oils and Ontario wine. 

“As we put the pandemic behind us and begin to focus on growing our economy and trade, this service could not be starting at a better time,” said Ian Hamilton, President & CEO of HOPA Ports. “There is an appetite to consider new solutions that help us build back smarter, greener, and more efficiently. Short sea shipping on the Great Lakes has been talked about for a long time, but a number of factors have aligned now to make it work.” 

This shipment is the first of what is expected to be an increasingly frequent service for container movements on the Great Lakes. This trip will be followed by other Hamilton-Montreal voyages later this year, building up to 20+ sailings in 2022. By opting to move freight originating in the GTHA through our waterways, HCT’s customers will be choosing a cost-effective, efficient and more sustainable solution than truck travel to get their goods to distant markets. To learn more about the service, and plan a future booking, please contact HCT (Director Commercial), Sanjeev Saraf at

Commented Alexandre Beauchamp-Parent, President and General Manager of Navigation, Desgagnés : “Desgagnés has been developing this niche for the past year and we are excited and proud to now be working with HCT and HOPA on this first container shipment from Hamilton, ON to Montreal, QC. Further to last year’s voyage performed with MCS Canada, we continue believing that shippers have many reasons to look favourably at short-sea shipping for transporting their goods out of the Great Lakes. As we succeed with these sailings and surmount some of the remaining challenges with our dedicated partners, we are convinced it is a matter of time before the market becomes aware of this environmentally friendly alternative solution to rail and trucking which can develop into a regular maritime service in the months and years to come.” 

Bernie Mailloux, Regional Director, Great Lakes Region, Federal Marine Terminals Hamilton, declared: “FMT is thrilled to be a part of this short sea shipping solution connecting the Port of Montreal to HOPA. We look forward to collaborating with all stakeholders and a successful startup of the service. FMT has extensive experience in handling containers throughout our network of terminals. We are always eager to find new ways to maximize the Port’s potential and to develop new business relationships.” 

Martin Imbleau, President and CEO, Port of Montreal, stated: “The Port of Montreal welcomes this news with great enthusiasm. Adding a new Hamilton-Montreal container service via the St. Lawrence Seaway provides an efficient route to international markets by transiting the Port of Montreal, together with a value-added service that makes it possible to cut greenhouse gas emissions through the sustainable transportation mode of marine shipping.” 

Bruce Hodgson, Director, Market Development, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, remarked: “The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) welcomes the expansion of container shipments on the Great Lakes-Seaway system. This new service led by HCT is a modern and innovative venture that makes use of a safe, reliable and sustainable waterway.”

For his part, Darren Edwardson, Vice President of Commercial Exports, MSC Canada, affirmed: “As the leading carrier in Canada, we are excited to partner with HCT to offer Canadian shippers alternative solutions to their logistics’ needs. Introducing this feeder service opportunity with HCT will offer shippers the flexibility required to maintain the fluidity of their supply chain, as well as ensuring expanded freight capacity, and expeditious operations to maximize on-time delivery.” (Photo HOPA)