By Tom Peters

Big ships, new lines and a 33 per cent increase in cargo marked a stellar 2017 for Halterm Container Terminal Ltd., operator of the South End container terminal at the port of Halifax. Kim Holtermand, Halterm’s CEO and Managing Director, said Halterm’s staff and the ILA workforce, were key to the strong year. “They have met every challenge in 2017 with an open-mind and some seriously hard work, keeping each other safe and keeping our customers in touch with the opportunities that import, export and transshipment connections have via Halterm,” he said.

Holtermand said he looks forward in 2018 to a continuation of the strong growth experienced in 2017. A positive start to the year was the arrival in January of the terminal’s newest piece of yard equipment, a Konecranes rubber-tired gantry crane (RTG). Halterm will use this equipment, together with two more RTGs that are expected to arrive in the summer, to build on its recent growth and increase performance, he said.” The RTGs will span six lanes and allow Halterm to stack containers five-high across import and export zones, an effective increase in yard capacity of 40 percent, or 160,000 TEUs.

Also in 2017 Halterm’s in-house engineering team was busy bringing in other new equipment, from Kalmar Ottawa T2 terminal tractors to Konecranes reachstackers which are used extensively throughout the container yard, but especially for the dedicated ‘on-dock’ CN rail operation. With the RTG’s still to come, Halterm’s total investment in new equipment stacks up to $13.5 million.

Tropical Shipping set the stage for the strong year in cargo when it began service from Halterm in January. Tropical’s Vega Omega, with a capacity of 1,118 TEUs, launched the service adding improved import and export connections to customers in Florida, The Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. The vessel is also equipped to handle over 200 refrigerated containers.

At the time of the launch, Holtermand said Halterm’s workforce will ensure “the terminal can meet both Tropical Shipping’s performance needs in 2017 and its plan for extended operations through 2019 when Tropical will take delivery of larger capacity vessels.”

Halifax Port Authority supported Tropical’s move to Halterm with additional electrical plugs for refrigerated cargo, bringing the number of plugs at Halterm to approximately 615.

Halterm got a further bump in cargo when Icelandic shipping line Eimskip began a weekly service Nov. 30 and also signed a feeder service agreement with CMA CGM to move cargo between New England and Halifax. Eimskip’s weekly service port rotation includes Reykjavik-Argentia-Halifax-Portland-Argentia-St. Anthony (seasonally June-December)-Reykjavik. The service connects through Reykjavik to Southern Europe, Russia and the Baltics. Eimskip offers a FCL and LCL service, including dry and reefer containers and flat racks, project cargo, break bulk and oversized cargo.

Andrew Haines, Vice-President, Sales and Logistics Manager for Eimskip in the US, said he expects the feeder service with CMA CGM will add about 100 TEUs of cargo for Eimskip by mid-2018 each way and by 2019 or a bit later double that amount, about 200 TEUs, each way. He also anticipates the new connection from Portland to Southeast Asia and China with CMA CGM will generate new business for both Eimskip and CMA CGM.

Earlier in the year, the arrival of Ocean Alliance service in May brought Evergreen, APL and OOCL to the terminal, and in June Halterm welcomed the first 10,000 TEU capacity container vessel ZIM Antwerp. Holtermand said the terminal is capable of handling the largest 14,000 TEU ships now regularly calling North America’s East Coast. The Halterm spokesman said the terminal was “honoured” to receive Halifax’s first, 10,000 plus TEU vessel, a commitment to eastern Canada’s entire port and shipping community made by ZIM on its Asia to Halifax ZCP service.

Holtermand said Halterm has “the capability and determination among a dedicated work force to meet the opportunity for growth that these vessels represent in serving eastern Canada and the arrival of Zim Antwerp plays to our strengths as a deep-water, big ship international container terminal.”

In late 2017, in its efforts to optimize its existing container yard, Halterm removed three redundant 1970’s era ship-to-shore cranes. Space is at a premium, as vessels with a container capacity of more than 10,000 TEUs are regularly calling at the terminal with a vessel beam that older cranes cannot service. Holtermand said by removing the three inactive cranes, Halterm is optimizing its container yard and improving terminal operations for both container and ro/ro customers.