Container feeder service operating between Hamilton and Montreal

by Inside Logistics Online Staff

At the end of June, almost 300 containers were loaded onto the M/V Sedna Desgagnés at the Port of Hamilton, Ontario, as part of a new short-sea shipping service launched by Hamilton Container Terminal (HCT) in 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 and the Port of Montreal.

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.

“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.”

Greener and cleaner

Short-sea shipping uses the Great Lakes as a marine-highway alternative to road-based transportation for city-to-city container shipments. This alternative has a number of advantages, chiefly a 500 percent lower carbon footprint, along with the ability to by-pass congested southern Ontario highways.

At the Port of Montreal, most of the containers were transloaded onto ocean-going 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.

Darren Edwardson, vice-president of commercial exports at MSC Canada said the new feeder service will “offer Canadian shippers alternative solutions to their logistics’ needs…this 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.”

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 and 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.”

Since its establishment at the Port of Hamilton in 2015, HCT has been building its container handling business, providing an alternative to some of the more congested depots in the Toronto and Hamilton area.

“We have been creating the business ecosystem to bring this service to life,” said Kaloti. “We have invested in infrastructure and established the right partnerships for it to succeed.”

All export bookings are being handled by Hamilton-based freight forwarder Avancer International Freight Systems.