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The Atlantic Spirit wins Montreal’s Gold-Headed Cane


Montreal, January 1, 2021 – At 2:59 p.m., the Atlantic Spirit was the first ocean-going vessel of 2021 to cross the Port of Montreal’s downstream limit at Sorel without a stopover. True to a tradition dating back over 180 years, the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) is awarding the Gold-Headed Cane to its master, Captain Oleksandr Popov.  The port also announced preliminary results of decreased traffic in 2020.

The Atlantic Spirit left the Port of Flushing in the Netherlands on December 18, 2020. Flying the flag of the Marshall Islands, this ABC Maritime shipping line tanker was carrying a cargo of refinery distillates (hydrocrack bottom) used as a feedstock for lubricants, headed for Vopak Terminals at Section 94 of the Port of Montreal. 

Ukranian-born Captain Popov has served more than 30 years as master and four years with the ABC Maritime line. 

The crossing, which was made in somewhat rough weather with strong winds and at times intense waves, took 14 days.

Due to the health restrictions in force during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Gold-Headed Cane engraved with the name of the winning captain and the ship’s name was awarded to him on the dock by Port of Montreal Harbour Master. The traditional Gold-Headed Cane awarding ceremony where the Montreal marine industry usually gathers will not take place due to the pandemic (EN What a shame!). 

At the end of an extraordinary year, marked not only by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also by the rail blockade and strikes by checkers and longshore workers, the MPA posted a 14.1% decrease in traffic, with a total of 34.9 tonnes of goods handled.

Containerized cargo traffic was less affected than anticipated, dipping 5.7% compared to 2019 for a total of 14.2 million tonnes handled, or over 1.6 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units).

Liquid bulk was the sector most affected by the pandemic-related economic crisis, falling 24% from 2019, while bulk goods dropped 10%, except for grain due to bumper crops in Western Canada and increased global consumption of agricultural products.

Despite these declines in all sectors, the last quarter of 2020 was marked by an encouraging recovery, notably in containerized trade with Asia and in the handling of certain dry bulk commodities such as iron ore and grain. 

Lastly, the cruise season was entirely cancelled in compliance with Transport Canada directives.

To learn more about this great Port of Montreal tradition click here. Photos Montreal Port Authority.