By Tom Peters

The massive, green decks of Grande Halifax were glistening on a cool May day in Halifax Harbour. It was a rare occasion in the Nova Scotia port as representatives of the marine industry and government gathered for the christening of the Grimaldi Group owned vessel. The christening of a commercial hasn’t occurred in Halifax in several years.

Karen Oldfield, President and CEO of Halifax Port Authority, who will serve as the ship’s Godmother, christened Halifax Grande with the traditional bottle of champagne. Oldfield said it was a great honor for her to be named the ship’s Godmother plus a great honor to have the vessel named after the Port of Halifax.

Grande Halifax is a pure car and truck carrier and the latest addition to the Grimadli Group’s fleet. Docked at CN Autoport for the ceremony and to discharge several vehicles, Grande Halifax is a sister ship to Grande Baltimora and Grande New York, also new ships recently brought into the Grimaldi fleet. Costantino Baldissara, Commercial, Logistics and Operations Director of Grimaldi Group, told those at the ceremony that Grimaldi plans to add another seven vessels of this type in the upcoming months.

Italian-flagged Grande Halifax is deployed on the Mediterranean-North America weekly ro/ro service operated by Grimaldi serving the ports of Halifax, Davisville, New York, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Houston, Tuxpan, Veracruz, Antwerp, Valencia, Savona, Livorno, Salerno and Gioia Tauro.

Halterm, which operates the port’s Southend container terminal, provides stevedoring for Grimaldi, the parent company of Atlantic Container Line (ACL) which has been continuously calling the Port of Halifax for 50 years. ACL recently introduced five, new container/roll on, roll off ships to its North Europe-North America service.

Sixty-three thousand gross tonne Grande Halifax, built in the Chinese shipyards of Jinling, has a length of 199.9 metres or nearly two football fields, a width of 32.26 metres and a cruising speed of 19 knots. The ship has a capacity of 6,700 CEU (Car Equivalent Units) or alternatively 4,000 linear metres of rolling freight and 2,500 CEUs. She is equipped with four hoistable decks which make her able to transport any type of rolling cargo with a height of up to 5.2 metres.

Grande Halifax has a side ramp and a quarter stern ramp, the latter allowing the loading of freight with a weight up to 150 tonnes. The configuration of the various decks and the system for the internal ramps reduce to the minimum the risk of damage during the loading/unloading operations.

On the environmental side, Grande Halifax is fitted with an electronically-controlled (Man Diesel & Turbo) main engine that allows compliance with the new regulations for reducing NOx emissions, while the installed scrubber reduces sulfur oxide (SOx) emissions. Grande Halifax is also equipped with a ballast water treatment unit which will allow her to meet future international regulations.

The vessel, under the command of Capt. Salvatore Aiello, has a crew of 27.